Ohio State increases crime patrols, adds private security

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Ohio State will hire private contractors to increase patrols around campus, but these contractors do not act as police officers. Credit: Sarah Szilagy | Patricia B. Miller Special Projects Reporter

Ohio State will work with the private sector to increase security patrols and safety measures in the university area.

In a Sept. 24 press conference, University President Kristina M. Johnson announced Ohio State will hire private contractors to increase patrols around campus, but these contractors will not act as police officers. University spokesperson Dan Hedman said it is important that students know who to look for in case of an emergency.

Monica Moll, director of public safety, said the new safety plan enlists help from these private companies as well as University and Columbus police, members of the non-profit Community Crime Patrol and campus service officers. The different types of officers make up a larger network and have to work together, Moll said.

Campus service officers are university-hired students who patrol on and off-campus in a marked vehicle, reporting suspicious behavior to police as needed. The Department of Public Safety is looking to hire more campus service officers throughout the month of October.

“We would like to go from about six to 30,” Moll said. “Anyone that has an interest in the public safety field in police or security, we would love to have them come join our team.”

Hedman said campus service officers, along with members of the Community Crime Patrol and private security, are not the same as police officers. These security personnel cannot make arrests or carry firearms.

Moll said private contractors learn procedures, observation skills, how to communicate over the radio channel and how to receive assistance from the police.

“We wouldn’t ever just put a private security company out to deal with all off-campus crime on their own,” Moll said. “They work because they fit in with a bigger network of police officers, cameras, our 911 dispatchers and the people that monitor our videos.”

Moll said these private security officers are in cars marked as security so students can seek them out without mistaking them for police officers.

“They patrol around to be an extra set of eyes and ears, and they don’t have law enforcement authority,” Moll said. “When they see things, they then call in the Columbus police and [University] Police to respond and assist.”

Security officers look for indications of crime, including break-ins, robberies and potential threats, to report to Columbus Police, Moll said.

“They’ll be looking for suspicious behavior; people breaking into cars, people attempting to break into homes, people that might be carrying weapons,” Moll said.

These increased patrols with private security officers will occur Thursday through Sunday, nights when crime is more likely to happen, Moll said. The private security officers never substitute for police, but rather patrol in addition to police officers.

“We always have Columbus Police out 24/7 every day and every night patrolling the University District just on their regular patrol shifts,” Moll said.

For nonemergencies, students can reach University Police at 614-292-2121, and should always call 911 in an emergency.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly described the campus service officers as a private entity. Campus service officers and Community Crime Patrol are not private contractors. They do not act as police because they are not sworn in, they can’t make arrests and they do not carry firearms. To reflect these changes, the story and headline have been updated at 4:10 p.m.

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