Public Safety Hirings Expand Force

By Nate Sans

The Department of Public Safety has recently added two new officers to its staff in order to bring personnel levels up to full strength. But the move also accompanies a long-term discussion between Public Safety and Old Chapel regarding a permanent increase in the size of Public Safety.

The new employees, Officers Raymond Reed and Robert Stearns, started work last week. Officer Reed grew up in Brandon, Vt. and worked for 20 years in retail at Gregg’s Meat Market in Middlebury. He said in an interview that his people skills, refined after years in retail, will make his job as a Public Safety officer easier, and that he was attracted to work at the College by the people and the atmosphere here. Officer Robert Stearns grew up Ferrisburgh, Vt. and spent nine years in the United States Navy aboard attack submarines. He also worked as a security guard at UTC Aerospace Systems in Vergennes. He told The Campus that he looks forward to the dynamic atmosphere at the College. Officers Stearns and Reed will spend three months shadowing an experienced Public Safety officer in order to become accustomed to the job.

According to Sergeant Chris Thompson, the vacancies in the Public Safety staff opened after “some [former officers] chose to move on to different and new opportunities.” In an email, Associate Director of Public Safety Daniel Gaiotti emphasized that “Public Safety is currently not increasing the number of officer staff. We are hiring to fill existing positions which are vacant at this time.”

Gaiotti explained that the hiring process for a Public Safety Officer involves interviews and scenario questions for applicants with experience fitting the job description.

Although the new hires are not representative of a current plan to increase the size of the Public Safety officer force, both Old Chapel and the Department of Public Safety have confirmed that they are looking into increasing the size of the overall force. Associate Director of Public Safety Daniel Gaiotti wrote in an email that enrollment at the College has grown, new buildings have been constructed, and the College has established more programs. However, Gaiotti explained, the size of Public Safety has remained unchanged.

Gaiotti also noted that “Federal requirements and regulations pertaining to emergency planning, preparedness and response have also increased.”

Due to all of these factors, Gaiotti wrote, “There have been preliminary discussions about proposing an increase in staff to better meet the needs of the department and the College.”

Dean of the College Shirley Collado cited the scope of the challenge faced by Public Safety at its current size, calling it “a 12-month-a-year, 24-hour-a-day operation supporting a complicated organization that has grown beyond Vermont.”

Collado said that she and Director of Public Safety Lisa Burchard are “Reevaluating how to move forward with enhancing the department’s role and function in terms of health and safety.” However Collado clarified that this reevaluation did not inherently include an increase in the size of the officer force.

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