The University of Manitoba is reorganizing its Security Services department, a move that has some students studying at the Bannatyne campus concerned.
Effective Dec. 12, 2011, the university will begin efforts to redeploy patrol officers at the Bannatyne campus to the Fort Garry campus. All officers currently employed on the Bannatyne campus will be offered a position at Fort Garry at their current salary level.
Currently, all Security Services staff have Special Constable training, a special designation under the province of Manitoba and City of Winnipeg. This designation enables a higher level of training than regular security staff, and also allows officers to lay charges under certain provincial and municipal statutes, such as the Highway Traffic Act and Intoxicated Persons Act.
Security Services positions left void at Bannatyne will be filled by security guard staff, but will not require the Special Constable designation, explains a letter signed by Deborah McCallum, vice-president (administration).
John Danakas, director of the Marketing Communication Office at the U of M, explained the reorganization comes after an extensive six-year review of Security Services duties between the two campuses that took place from 2004-10.
While it was expected the number of calls would be greater on the Fort Garry campus because of the size and level of activity, the nature of the calls officers responded to was also vastly different between Fort Garry and Bannatyne, he explained.
For example, the review showed that only 16 per cent of calls that would require a Special Constable came from the Bannatyne campus, and over 70 per cent of calls at the Bannatyne campus involved duties such as attending to building alarms or unlocked doors.
By contrast, officers on the Fort Garry campus often have to attend to traffic violations and alcohol-related incidents.
“What’s different about Bannatyne campus is that it’s a much smaller campus with fewer staff and students, and the nature of the activity is somewhat different than on the Fort Garry campus,” he said, pointing out that the student population on Fort Garry is a younger, more active community and also includes residence students.
The Bannatyne campus’ partnership with the Health Sciences Centre, which has its own security personnel, was also a factor in the decision. “As well, it has been our experience the area receives prompt attention from the Winnipeg Police Service,” McCallum wrote.
Danakas explained the Winnipeg Police Service typically addresses issues with crime in the Bannatyne campus’ downtown neighbourhood.
“Because the Bannatyne campus is situated as part of a neighbourhood, and not as part of a larger campus like Fort Garry, it’s important that the security provided involves partnership with those neighbours, such as the Health Science Centre and the Winnipeg Police Service,” he said.
“Security Services is prepared to deal with situations, [ . . . ] though if criminal activity is involved, then security services seeks the assistance of Winnipeg Police Service.”
However, students and staff the Manitoban spoke with at the Bannatyne campus were not impressed with the idea of reorganizing security at the U of M.
Andrea Emylie, a support staff employee in the faculty of medicine, said the campus’ location often creates security concerns for her, especially working late at night.
“We are in the core of the city, and it’s not exactly a great place to be,” she said.
Some students commented that they don’t feel comfortable being at the Bannatyne campus late at night, and that they would feel more comfortable relying on Security Services than on the Winnipeg Police Service to address issues while on or near the Bannatyne campus.
Melanie Walker, a student studying physical therapy at the U of M, said she understands the Fort Garry campus is larger and more heavily populated, which may create more issues for Security Services staff. However, she said she wasn’t impressed to hear university officials say it was their experience that the Winnipeg Police Service responded quickly to calls on or near the Bannatyne campus.
“I thought Security Services are here to deal with issues so that it doesn’t get to the point where you have call the police,” she said.
Walker went on to say that she thought she would be less concerned with security issues on the Fort Garry campus, due to the nature of campus community and geographical location.
“It’s a majority of students, faculty and people who work at the university that are there, whereas here you have a lot of people who are working in the area, who are here for [Health Sciences Centre] visiting people, or are receiving services, so there’s a lot more community members than just students,” she explained.
“I feel like that in itself is an increased risk to our safety.”