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James Harper Special to the NNPA from the Daytona Times
Published: 16 April 2011

Bethune-Cookman University President Trudie Kibbe Reed


Bethune-Cookman University President Trudie Kibbe Reed and campus security chief Mel Williams are hoping to convince a majority of the Daytona Beach City commissioners that their officers should be sworn in and empowered through the Daytona Beach, Fla., Police Department.

City Manager Jim Chisholm and Police Chief Mike Chitwood are against the idea. Therefore, it will be up to a majority of the commissioners to override their recommendation for Daytona not to go into a partnership with the university.

Susan Cerbone, Daytona Beach's public information officer, said an item pertaining to B-CU addressing the commissioners is not on the upcoming city commission agenda.  However, the public and the commission are able to bring up any topic.

Plans developing for B-CU police

BCU spokesman Meredith Rodriguez told the Daytona Times the university has been developing plans to launch its own campus police force for the last several months.

"According to state law, as a private institution, B-CU cannot constitute a sworn police force on its own," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said B-CU hopes to follow the model used by the University of Miami (UM), which is also private.  UM has worked in partnership with the City of Coral Gables and the Coral Gables Police Department for the past 40 years.

B-CU is proposing a cooperative agreement with the City of Daytona Beach and the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD).

Chisholm: City can send officers

In a letter obtained by the Daytona Times sent to Williams from Chisholm, the city manager stated, "We do not believe that extending the city's police powers to a private entity would set an appropriate precedent or be in the best interest of the citizens."

Chisholm said the DBPD is able to satisfy any additional law enforcement needs of the B-CU campus.  He added that the city is willing to provide officers assigned and dedicated to the campus from the current police force.

Daytona Beach has an ongoing intern program with B-CU, and Chisholm pointed out the city employs eight police officers who graduated from the university.

B-CU no longer uses security guards from a private company.  They have been replaced by uniformed officers, hired by the school and working under the Office of Safety and Security.

Similar duty, similar name

Reed wants to give her security force arrest powers.

Williams, a former veteran officer with the Titusville Police Department, says he and his staff will come up with a plan and present it to the commissioners.

He hopes to educate local lawmakers to show that a partnership can work in Daytona Beach.

Williams and his second-in-command, Capt. Randy Davis, would have to be sworn in and classified as part-time Daytona Beach police officers.

The university's officers would have to be state-certified and sworn in with Daytona Beach police working strictly on the university's campus; they would follow the policies and procedures of the police department.

11 armed officers on campus

The new officers would be allowed to make arrests and transport their suspects to the county jail. By the same token, "any law enforcement action (at the university) would become public record," Williams said in a recent interview.

There are 11 armed security officers with Bethune-Cookman's security force and 35 unarmed public service officers.  Eight of the 11 armed officers are retired law enforcement officers who have worked with other police agencies, Williams said.  That includes him and Davis. If Bethune-Cookman gets its own sworn police department, the school would be able to hire five additional certified law enforcement officers, Williams said. Those employees would also be armed and sworn in as part-time Daytona Beach cops.

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