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Public Safety Officer Ranks Rise After COVID Drop

After a hiring freeze was lifted in 2021, staffing levels are slowly returning to normal
Jay Kass
Lt. Jordan Caccavalla gets off patrolling the Ammerman campus on Thursday, April 4, 2024.

After placing a hiring freeze on public safety officers during the COVID-19 pandemic, when there were no students on campus for some time, the number of public safety officers dropped as low as 29 — down from a high of 50.

The hiring freeze was lifted in 2021, and the school expedited the hiring process when it recognized that it needed more officers again.

Now, the staff is back to 37, with trainees getting up to speed on what is required for the job.

“You will see more public safety officers,” said Assistant Director of Public Safety and Environmental Health Philip Sandusky.

“Part of the problem is that our officers have to go through the same physical and psychological testing as the police,” Sandusky said, referring to the two- to six-month-long county testing process, which can lead to hiring delays. If the officer fails the test, they can appeal and retake it, pushing the timeline out longer.

Justin Dang, a public safety officer trainee, has been with the school since February. It took him almost four months to get the job.

“Accounting for physical, agility, psychological, and the fact that I failed my physical the first time roughly three or four months ago,” Dang said.

Dang’s job consists of learning the ropes, responding to emergencies on campus, opening and closing doors as necessary, and helping out students and faculty wherever needed.

“I like it a lot,” Dang said. “Knowing how to respond to very counting situations — like you never know when you’re gonna be thrown into a situation where you’ve never been trained for it. You can’t train for certain things, so you’re just gonna have to learn how to adapt on the fly,” he said

The newest five officers have all been hired under a provisional basis, as is protocol, Sandusky, said. These officers have passed the physical, mental, and agility tests but have not taken the written test yet.

“When the written test is offered, then civil service does that, not the college,” said Sandusky, hoping to get his staff close to pre-Covid numbers.

“They haven’t stopped me,” Sandusky said. “I’m going to keep hiring, we hope to get back to 40.”

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About the Contributor
Jay Kass
Jay Kass, Multimedia Editor
Jay Kass is the multimedia editor of the Compass News, majoring in journalism. After Suffolk, she wants to go to Stony Brook University to obtain a bachelor's in journalism, or get a cosmetology degree at Navda Tech in the city to learn how to create crazy hair looks. Kass hopes to become a travel journalist to spread awareness of different cultures.

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    JoshMay 8, 2024 at 3:26 pm

    Great article, Jay! We appreciate our Public Safety officers here at Ammerman.