Wheaton College Laying Off Public Safety Officers, Hiring Private Security

The public safety department, which unionized about two years ago, has arrest powers but its officers do not carry guns.

Wheaton College Laying Off Public Safety Officers, Hiring Private Security

NORTON, Mass. — Wheaton College is replacing most of its public safety officers with a private security firm.

Approximately a dozen public safety department officers, who have arrest powers but do not carry guns, will work until Jan. 11 when the transition will begin, reports The Sun Chronicle. The department’s director and one lieutenant will remain.

“We do not comment publicly on personnel matters but will provide organizational updates to our community when appropriate,” director of communications Sandy Coleman said of the switch.

The public safety officers patrol the 478-acre campus around the clock and handle safety and parking issues on campus. Wheaton has a total undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1,774 students.

According to the department’s website, the officers have extensive training in law, crisis management, crime prevention, investigative procedures, fire safety, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid, and fire and emergency medical services.

Additionally, the department conducts various safety educational classes and specially trained instructors lead the campus’ Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program.

Some of the college’s public safety department, which unionized about two years ago, has been working for the college for more than 30 years.

According to an email announcing the change, the school has hired Securitas Security, a private security services group, to patrol the campus.

Securitas employs more than 370,000 worldwide. It also more than 400 branches in the U.S., including one in Boston, which is located approximately 40 miles from the school.

About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and a handful of cousins are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband, her son and her dog.

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One response to “Wheaton College Laying Off Public Safety Officers, Hiring Private Security”

  1. Drew Neckar says:

    It will be interesting to watch this to see their results. Outsourcing staffing for Public Safety / Security does not have to be a negative, but I often see it driven by a desire to cut costs. When cost reduction is the goal but no other efficiencies are found other than replacing in-house employees with the same number of contracted employees the only place for that cost reduction is in pay and benefits of the Security / Public Safety Officers. While not universal, the majority of the time that reduction in pay and/or benefits results in higher turnover and personnel who are less qualified for the job and deliver service that is not at the same level. When seeking cost reduction strategies it is often best to assess the entirety of the security program to seek redundancies that can be eliminated rather than reducing the per FTE cost through outsourcing. I am not personally familiar with Wheaton College’s security program or the criteria the used to make the decision in this particular case, but it is something I see fairly regularly.

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