The first USF security guards arrive
Just in time for tonight's Homecoming parade and post-parade festivities, the first of USF's new unarmed security officers have arrived on campus.
Lt. Meg Ross, USF police department spokeswoman, said two AlliedBarton officers this morning began foot patrols in the north end of campus that includes residence halls and the health sciences facilities. There are three shifts, with two officers working each one, for a total of six.
"That way we have 24-7 coverage," Lt. Ross said.
Eventually, USF will use more of the AlliedBarton officers, but the year-long contract with the national company -- announced by President Judy Genshaft last weelk -- is still being finalized. USF administrators expect to spend about $200,000 total.
That money comes largely from dollars budgeted but unspent last year for positions that were never filled. Among those positions: A dozen or so in the USF police department, which struggles to recruit and retain sworn officers because the starting pay is so low and the pay raises insufficient compared to other area agencies like TPD.
But USF administrators insist they are dedicated to improving the police department through current contract negotiations, and they stress the AlliedBarton guards are simply "augmenting" the police department -- not replacing it.
Lt. Ross said the unarmed guards might prove "very helpful" during tonight's festivities, but the department still is having to use all its officers on extended shifts.
"Every officer we have is working these events," she said. "Some who already worked a 12-hour shift will stay into the night."