NORTON – Wheaton College is laying off most of its public security officers and hiring a private security firm to patrol the campus.
The dozen or so public security officers, who have arrest powers over all campus and college property but do not carry weapons, will work until Jan.11, according to two sources.
Only the director and a lieutenant of the department will remain. The college hired a private company, Securitas Security, according to an email announcing the change that was provided to The Sun Chronicle.
Securitas is a global company with 400 branches in the United States, including one in Boston, according to its website.
A spokesperson for Wheaton said in an email that although the college has not yet commented, “the safety and security of our community is still our top priority.”
“We do not comment publicly on personnel matters, but will provide organizational updates to our community as appropriate,” said Sandy Coleman, college communications director.
Some members of the college’s public security service, who unionized about two years ago, have worked for the college for more than 30 years, the sources said.
They have extensive training in law, crisis management, crime prevention, investigative procedures, fire safety and other security matters, according to the department’s website.
In addition to patrolling the campus 24 hours a day, the department manages campus safety issues and enforces parking rules, according to the website.
All officers are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid as well as fire and medical emergency services.
The department also runs various security education courses, and specially trained instructors teach the Rape Assault Defense program that many local police departments offer to residents.
Five years ago, Dean Junior College in Franklin removed police officers from its campus and hired a private security firm shortly after officers declared plans to unionize, according to the Metro-West Daily News.