Temple Police expects to add 18 new officers to its force, nine of whom are already trained and could be hired in the next couple of months.
President Theobald first announced the news at a state budget hearing March 2 at the Capitol building in Harrisburg.
Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said the 18 new officers would cost the university between $1.1 and $1.3 million from “existing resources and dollars” that are held for decisions like this.
Nine of the officers are already trained, Leone added. Nine more would be sent to the Philadelphia Police Academy for training.
The Temple News previously reported in “Crime and Campus” on May 5, 2015, that Temple Police deploys more than 130 officers and is the largest university police force in the country. Leone said because some officers will choose to retire and resign during the current hiring process, the total number of officers should remain about the same.
It’s unclear, however, whether Temple will still have the largest university police force, Leone said.
“It’s hard to predict what others are doing out there,” he said. “Usually, you have Howard and Penn, and a few others that are right there neck and neck with us … if all stays the same, then we’d probably stay around the same. If not one, at least in the top two or three when it comes to having the officers on hand.”
He added collaboration between Theobald and COO Kevin Clark has made the process easy.
Leone said the department also recruits from nearby police departments and hosts career fairs for candidates, including one scheduled for next month at Bright Hope Baptist Church at 1601 N. 12th St.
Leone said he and other officials want to see candidates who are innovative.
“We want to ensure that people have a good balance among themselves,” he said. “What I mean by that is you have to be able to, on the one hand, be part of the law enforcement package … and if you have to, making arrests and all that technical stuff. … On the other hand, we want to make sure you have the people skills, you’re able to think a little bit differently, a little more broadly.”
One challenge for new officers is adapting to the climate of the relationship between students off campus and community members, Leone said.
“We want to make sure that when [new officers] are coming here, they realize that we’re in a very, very diverse population between the university and our neighboring community,” he said. “And we have to think like that. It really is more about building the bridges than creating more of those gaps.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.