Wheaton College Launches Public Safety Officers, Hires Private Safety Officers

The Public Security Department, which unionized about two years ago, has arrest powers, but its officers do not carry firearms.

NORTON, Mass. – Wheaton College is replacing most of its public security officers with a private security firm.

About a dozen agents from the Public Security Department, who have arrest powers but do not carry weapons, will work until January 11, when the transition will begin, reports Chronicle of the Sun. The department director and a lieutenant will stay.

“We do not comment publicly on personnel matters, but will provide organizational updates to our community as appropriate,” said director of communications Sandy Coleman of the change.

The Public security officers patrol the 478-acre campus around the clock and manage campus security and parking issues. Wheaton has a total undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1,774 students.

According to department website, officers have extensive training in law, crisis management, crime prevention, investigative procedures, fire safety, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid, and fire and emergency medical services.

In addition, the department runs various security education courses, and specially trained instructors run the campus Rape Assault Defense (RAD) program.

Part of the college’s public security service, which unionized about two years ago, has worked for the college for more than 30 years.

According to an email announcing the change, the school hired Securitas Security, a group of private security services, to patrol the campus.

Securitas employs more than 370,000 people worldwide. It also has over 400 branches in the United States, including one in Boston, which is located approximately 40 miles from the school.

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Susan W. Lloyd

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