Ryerson is proposing a change to the way it keeps the campus safe, by adding security employees who would have “special constable” status.
“Special constables will be accountable to both the university and Toronto Police Service (TPS). They will respond to emergency calls on-campus and have the authority to address issues that current security guards cannot,” says Denise Campbell, director of community safety and security.
The proposal was made to TPS in August, following multiple focus group consultations with faculty, staff and students about their concerns with safety on campus. Results from security incident data and written feedback from community members were also taken into consideration.
The consensus gathered from these groups, was that Ryerson’s security services were in need of an upgrade. According to Campbell, the current team is “limited in skills” to address issues that come with an urban campus incident, such as assault, theft, vandalism, smoking bylaws, and traffic control.
Community members voiced their concerns, stating that on a daily basis, they’ve had to change their behaviour in how they operate in the area, in order to feel safe and secure, says Campbell.
During consultations in the spring, groups were given three options to choose from on how to improve the current security team. The options were: increasing the number of security guards, creating a team of only special constables, or a mixture of both security and special constables. The third option received the most votes.
With this proposal, comes other changes to Ryerson’s security services in the next year, including a mass notification system for security alerts, restricted access to buildings after-hours, and the addition of bicycles for the team to increase mobility around campus.
The proposal is pending approval from Toronto police. However, Campbell says if it is accepted, a phased implementation of the approach will begin in 2020.
This article has been updated.