Millikin University is now home to an official university police department.
Previously known as the Office of Safety and Security, the department is now known as the Department of Public Safety. This new department encompasses the police, security, risk management, parking, and environmental health & safety for the campus. The creation of a university police department was approved by Millikin's Board of Trustees in May 2013 in order to augment the University's efforts to provide a safe and secure environment for the campus community. The decision was not based on any particular issue, but rather was intended to improve the overall professionalism and service capabilities of the University's safety and security team.
The new Department of Public Safety is headed by Chris Ballard, director of public safety/chief of police. Ballard previously served as a police officer and police sergeant for the City of Champaign (1997-2006) and as a City of Decatur firefighter/EMT (2008-2011) before joining the Millikin University Safety and Security team as assistant director in 2011. Captain David Beasley will join the University in November as the assistant director of public safety/deputy chief of police after 28 years of service with the Illinois State Police. Beasley is currently serving as the district commander of Illinois State Police District 10 in Pesotum, Ill. It is anticipated that two additional police officers will join the department in January 2014. These officers will patrol the core campus area and oversee the proprietary security team.
Decatur Police and Millikin University Public Safety have agreed to a memorandum of understanding highlighting how the new campus police will supplement, not replace, the existing police services provided by Decatur Police. Decatur Police have been very supportive of this concept since the idea was first brought to them in January. Decatur Police have also agreed to provide dispatching services via their communication center to the new police department.
"Millikin University is fortunate to have a great partner in the City of Decatur in providing a safe and secure campus community," said Chris Ballard. "The addition of professional law enforcement to the campus will allow for more efficient and timely handling of a variety of issues and should simplify compliance with the Jeanne Clery Act and the Illinois Campus Security Enhancement Act."
Established under the Illinois Private College Campus Police Act, University Police Officers have the same legal authority within their home counties as municipal and county police officers and deputies. They can enforce all federal, state, and local laws and ordinances in addition to utilizing internal University processes for certain conduct violations. University police officers are also empowered to enforce the Illinois Vehicle Code on streets contiguous with their campus properties. When on duty, Millikin University Police will primarily respond to University-owned and controlled properties only. If Millikin University Police are not on duty, Decatur Police will respond as appropriate. Millikin's memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Decatur Police does provide for a patrol area around Millikin's core west end campus. Within this area, Millikin University Police can and will respond to assist Decatur Police at non-university property if requested or to immediately preserve life and property. The campus community and neighbors will begin seeing University Police patrol activity in the coming weeks. As this program is implemented over the next few months, the campus community and neighbors should begin noticing a more visible campus police presence in early 2014.
While this is a significant change, it should be noted that Millikin University is not unique in utilizing university police to improve the safety of its campus. Other private universities, including Lewis University and North Park University, have utilized similar organizations to secure their campuses.
For more information on the Millikin University Department of Public Safety, visit www.millikin.edu/publicsafety