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Published: Wednesday, 12/10/2008

Owens OKs conversion of security to police unit

Over the next year and a half, the department of safety and security at Owens Community College will become a campus police force, which means officers will be trained to enforce state laws as police and be able to carry weapons.

The school's board of trustees approved a resolution to make the shift to become a department of public safety at a meeting yesterday.

Security officers on the Perrysburg Township and Findlay-area campuses enforce the rules and regulations of the institution, but as a police force they will have the ability "to take away somebody's freedom," said Julee Cope, chief of the department of safety and security.

For current security officers to become police they will have to complete the eight-month police academy, offered at the school's Perrysburg Township campus. After the transition, the school's public safety department will contain a hybrid of about 35 security officers and commissioned police.

It will take about 18 months to complete the transition, mostly to allow for proper training of officers and to put the appropriate procedures in place.

"It will allow us to go one step further without calling Perrysburg Township," said Brian Paskvan, Owens' vice president for administration.

Mr. Paskvan was unsure of the cost to make the change, but said the funds would come from the institution's general fund. Costs include salary increases for officers because of changes to their job description and duties, training, equipment, and weapons.

"We've been looking at this for well over a year and, for a campus of our size, we just believe it's the right thing to do," Mr. Paskvan said.

Owens Community College has about 20,000 students.

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