The City of Meadville and Allegheny College signed a Cooperative Agreement on Aug. 1, allotting more authority and responsibility to campus security.
Within the first weeks of school, students have noticed a change in the interaction between themselves and the combined forces of the Meadville City Police Department (MCPD) and Campus Security.
Josh Perez, ’17, heard that more Meadville police officers had been added to the force who are expected to bring extra security to the Meadville, including the Allegheny campus.
“There are more sirens than last semester,” said Perez, noticing the upped police presence.
But when it comes to knowledge about the relationship between the college students and the residents of Meadville, Perez and many students were in the dark.
“[Safety and Security] have the authority to exercise powers of a police officer,” read the Cooperative Agreement. Campus security can investigate, make arrests and file charges for criminal conduct on Allegheny’s campus.
Despite these additions to the agreement, Safety and Security is required to call on the MCPD for certain matters. When conducting an investigation or apprehending suspects in matters of simple assault, felony violation, violations involving drugs and drug paraphernalia and suspected hostile persons or hostile acts on campus, Security is required to request help from Meadville police according to the Cooperative Agreement.
Campus Security employs four sergeants responsible for responding to non-traffic violations (underage drinking, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct), thefts less than $2,000 and harassment. This has forced more reliance on the MCPD, although according to Ashleigh Lawton, ’18, it does make students feel safer.
It is understood, therefore, that although campus security does not have all the means of forgoing an investigation or manning a major event, the new and cordial relationship between themselves and the MCPD will allow those cases to be handled with proper resources and technology.
These resources include three new police officers. According to Allegheny College Director of Safety and Security Jeff Schneider, these young, eager police officers want to do their job and will be more aggressive than the older officers in upholding the law.
“And while our guys will only do it if they have to… When they see someone staggering out of a bar, they will be arrested,” said Schneider.
Both Chief of Police Eric Young and Schneider stressed that their goal is not to rid the campus of all alcohol but to create a safe environment for students and the neighbors of the college itself. They hope to foster positive relations among the Meadville community as a whole.
Because of the fact that the college has stood in the center of a residential area since it was founded, the safety and comfort of both students and residents has remained essential. Both campus security and the MCPD have taken steps toward creating a positive relationship between students and residents.
In addition to controlling the extent of distribution of alcohol on and off campus, the college has also taken steps toward curbing sexual violence.
The college and the city have done extensive work as of late to follow the state’s new Title IX of 1972, which protects women from discrimination in education systems, and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act regulations which ensures that police respond to crisis calls and advocate for victims.
The college has hired a new Title IX coordinator, Catherine Pope, who will ensure that the college and the MCPD respond to cases of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual violence.
According to Schneider, much of these new advancements in sexual assault are in response to the Sandusky trial at Pennsylvania State, which exposed the lack of reporting safety violations within schools.
The ordinance itself has been set forth since 2004, and continues to grow in order to provide safety to students and maintain a peaceful relationship between the college and the greater residential community.
Schneider mentioned that his goal is creating safety and a living, learning environment. The Safety and Security office hopes to create a relationship of mutual respect between students and Security officers in order to prepare them for the world beyond.
“We want [students] to understand that they live within a neighborhood and they will be accountable… It’s a little common courtesy,” Young said.
Schneider mentioned that the campus security officers’ are striving for peace of mind across all fronts.
“We want everyone to be happy as an end result,” Schneider said.
Everyone, including local citizens and Allegheny students.