Department of Public Safety
Peace Officer FAQ
In March 2013, 25 members of the University's Department of Security Services were sworn in as the first group of peace officers, embarking upon a five-month training and certification program for this new distinction. Additionally, to more accurately reflect the purpose and services of the department, the Department of Security Services has changed its name to the Department of Public Safety, effective September 1, 2013.
Below are additional details on peace officers at the University.
What is a peace officer?
A peace officer is an appointed individual who has the sworn authority to make arrests, including warrantless arrests under specified conditions, complete warrantless searches, and investigate all manner of criminal and non-criminal offenses. University peace officers and Public Safety staff will not carry firearms. The specific provisions of University Public Safety are listed in subdivision 83 of section 2.10 of the criminal procedure law.
How is a peace officer different from a police officer?
Generally speaking, there is very little difference in the powers of a police officer and a peace officer. The main distinction is that peace officers’ powers of arrest are limited to the scope of the duties of their employment and, in our case, only on University property.
Why did the University support this move to peace officer/sworn status?
Peace officer status was sought after a deliberate, comprehensive and thoughtful review of security and safety issues at the University by a Security Commission comprised of employees and students, which conducted a complete assessment of the UR safety efforts. The review was in consultation with the security team, local law enforcement and the University community. After several months of review and discussion, the Security Commission released several recommendations to President Seligman, including seeking peace officer status for a portion of the Security staff.
Will all current Public Safety staff become peace officers?
No. At this time peace officer status will be for a component of the University’s Public Safety team. In the first two years of the implementation of peace officer status, approximately 50 members of the Department will be sworn in, including members of patrol, investigations and supervisory staff.
What different duties/functions will peace officers have?
Peace officers and Public Safety officers will have the same duties except that peace officers will be able to arrest for a criminal offense. There are some criminal felony offenses (i.e. involving firearms) in which assigned peace officers will not complete apprehension/arrest and the appropriate law enforcement agency will be contacted.
Will peace officers be able to place an individual under mental health arrest?
Yes. This is an important aspect of peace officer authority. It will allow an officer to immediately take an individual into custody during a life-threatening situation.
Will peace officers have different uniforms and equipment?
Peace officers will wear badges along with the standard dark navy colored uniform shirt. Peace officers will carry pepper gel, batons and handcuffs. Public Safety staff will carry pepper gel and handcuffs.
What training /certification is needed?
Appointed University officers are receiving 400 hours of peace officer instruction at the Monroe County Public Safety Training Facility. This is over 50 hours of additional training beyond what is mandated by the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services. And this is in addition to 500+ hours of basic training all patrol staff receive.
When will this new status change take place?
After providing appropriate documentation to the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), identifying existing staff to be appointed, and completing the state mandated training, the first group of University peace officers deployed on October 1, 2013.
What areas are peace officers able to patrol/respond to?
No change. Sworn peace officers will be deployed to roving posts (both on foot and in vehicles), to respond quickly to all areas of the University.
Will peace officers or public safety officers carry firearms or other defensive equipment?
No firearms. As noted above, peace officers will carry pepper gel and batons, while public safety officers will carry just pepper gel.
Are peace officers and public safety officers able to use defensive equipment at all campuses and in all areas?
Public safety officers and peace officers will use assigned equipment only under extreme defensive needs in the patient care environment while assigned to work at Strong Memorial Hospital.
Will I get better service/response from a peace officer?
You will receive the same professional response, whether from a public safety officer or a peace officer.
Will the Rochester Police Department continue to respond as requested or needed?
Yes. They will continue to support the Department of Public Safety as they have done in the past. They will be contacted in most felony offense investigations, any weapons situations, and in transporting prisoners to jail. Public Safety is currently working with area law enforcement agencies to develop a memorandum of understanding regarding specific agreements.
Will peace officers now be guarding patient prisoners at Strong Memorial Hospital?
No, they will continue to be guarded by the agency that has custody of the individual.
Will peace officers be required to arrest for any criminal offense they observe?
No. Public Safety will still be able to divert most minor offenses involving staff and students into the current judicial and disciplinary processes currently used at the University.
What about domestic violence cases?
Domestic violence cases are the only exception to the previous question. New York State law requires that for certain designated offenses, persons in a domestic relationship as defined in the law must be arrested, even if the victim does not desire criminal action. Public safety officers will be giving out much more specific information on this topic in upcoming publications and meetings with University community members.
Who can I call if I have any additional questions?
You can call Public Safety headquarters at 275-3437 during normal business hours and your question will be directed to the appropriate person. As always, if you have an emergency, please call the communications center at 275-3333 or x13, 24 hours a day.
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