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Lawmaker urges USF to improve security



Nothing like a little political pressure to move things along.

The same day USF President Judy Genshaft announced plans to hire unarmed private security guards for campus residence halls and other high-traffic areas,she got a letter from Rep. Rick Kriseman urging her to boost the pay and ranks of her campus police force.

"You oversee more than just a campus -- it is a community, and I do not believe a community can function well if they live, or learn, in fear," Kriseman wrote in the Oct. 26 letter, obtained by Gradebook this week. "Your tenure as president has been marked by numerous successes, yet as you are surely aware, all the good can be erased by a single horrific incident."

The St. Petersburg Democrat told Genshaft that several constituents contacted him with concerns, and he suggests Genshaft and her administration make changes to ensure the USF police force is properly staffed and competitively paid.

The force now has 41 out of 53 officer positions filled, meaning it has one of the thinnest forces of all the state universities -- one officer for every 930 or so students. The police chief blames low starting salaries and the lack of a step plan that gives raises based on years served. He frequently loses officers to area agencies like TPD and the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office, which pay better.

Kriseman concludes his letter: "I am confident that you will help turn the USF Police Department into one of the finest in the nation, as you have done with the university's academics and athletics."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:25am]


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