Looking back on the campus safety transition

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Officers Carlos Tijerna and John Coulter stand in front of the campus map located in the new University of Dallas police department office. Photo by Gabriela McCausland.

Seven months after the Campus Safety Office became an official police station, both campus safety officers and police officers agree that the transition has created a well-balanced team that is able to serve the University of Dallas community better than before.

Despite initial concern that new officers could weaken the community atmosphere, long-time CSO officers say that this is not the case.

Charlie Steadman, director of campus safety, has been involved with UD since he came as a student in 1968.

When the UD Police Department (UDPD) was first proposed, Steadman was concerned that the police officers would cause division because they would not understand what UD is.

“They have to care about the community,” Steadman said. “That was the key. And they do.”

The campus safety team is improved by the complementary skills of campus security officers and police officers, according to Steadman.

“We have the institutional knowledge, and they have the police experience,” Steadman said. “And the the combination of the two things is just unbeatable.”

John Coulter, a UD police officer who joined the department over the summer, echoed this sentiment.

“It’s been an easy transition working with these guys because they have so much knowledge of the campus,” Coulter said.

Many of the police officers have worked with Chief Russell Greene, the head of the new campus police department, for a long time.

Another positive effect of the transition is that UDPD can now more easily coordinate efforts with Irving PD, Steadman said.

For example, the police presence on Northgate Drive has been a team effort of Irving and UDPD to decrease the speed of cars and protect students as they walk to campus.

Protecting campus is all about the people who make up the community.

“It’s all about the students and the character of the students,” Steadman said. “I don’t guard buildings. The buildings could burn down as long as the students are ok.”

For Steadman, UD is more than a work environment.

“My grandchildren were raised on this campus,” Steadman said. “I brought them here to play baseball and learn how to ride a bicycle.”

When asked about the UD students, he responded positively about his observance of their caliber.

“I’m proud of y’all,” Steadman said. “You have good character. It’s not that nobody makes mistakes, but overall, I’d trust you with my grandchildren.”

Altogether, the state of campus security is secure.

“Twenty-two years working here and I’m happier now than I’ve been in a long long time,” Steadman said of the new police officers. “I’m proud to be serving with them. They’re the highest quality police officers you will find anywhere.”

Steadman offered best evidence of the success of the transition with his own experience.

“My blood pressure is 20 points lower,” he said.

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