Onondaga graduates first-ever College Peace Officers

After 13 weeks of intensive, professional law enforcement training, 16 campus peace officers are now on duty on the Onondaga campus. The officers provide 24-hour security for faculty, staff, visitors and more than 10,000 students, including 600 resident students enrolled on the campus this fall.

Frank Lawrence, director of Campus Safety and Security, authored the initial statewide legislation that allows for peace officers on college campuses across New York state. Lawrence also implemented a peace officer program at his former institution, Herkimer County Community College.

The peace officers completed 480 hours of rigorous training at the College’s Public Safety Training Center (PSTC), home to the Central New York Police Academy. They have the same authority as police officers (who are required to complete 530 hours of training); however, peace officers are unable to make arrests or execute search warrants. As with police officers, training will be ongoing. “The resources available to us here on campus at the CNY Police Academy are top-notch,” says Lawrence. “And the proximity can’t be beat.” The Academy is located on the north end of the campus, at J. Stanley Coyne Hall.

Campus Peace Officer Don Shaver served for more than 14 years as a police officer in towns throughout Onondaga County. He says that he initially had no intention of returning to law enforcement, but he was intrigued by the small-town feel of Onondaga. “I like the campus environment and since my officer training only slightly surpassed what is required of peace officers, I was able to come in on the ground floor of this new program.”

Cassie Clere is one of four women hired as a peace officer. She recently completed Phase I training through the Central New York Police Academy and says she’s always had great respect for the law. “My father was a sheriff so I essentially grew up around law enforcement,” says Clere. “The training has been very intense both physically and mentally, but it’s preparing me to serve the campus community while keeping student safety top of mind.” By adopting a community policing approach, Lawrence says the officers will be out on the campus working with people and getting to know the many students, faculty and staff. Their goal is to ensure the Onondaga campus remains one of the safest campuses in the SUNY system.