Jefferson College officials are considering the possibility of eliminating the Jefferson College-run Police Department.
However, President Dena McCaffrey cautioned that discussions about the department are preliminary and there is no intention to stop having armed personnel protect the college, which has campuses in Hillsboro, Arnold and Imperial.
“Jefferson College continues to keep safety as a priority for anyone who steps foot on the college’s campus,” McCaffrey said Sept. 19 in a written statement. This includes students, employees and members of the community. Like all programs on campus, Jefferson College regularly assesses operations to ensure the highest quality of academic and support services.
“The Police Department is going through the College’s Institutional Assessment process this academic year. Although the review is not yet complete, there is absolutely no intention of reverting back to unarmed security officers. It is yet to be determined whether the college remains as an independent police agency or partners with a local commissioned police department.”
At an all-employee meeting in mid-August, she announced the upcoming assessment and review of the Police Department.
In an Aug. 25 memo McCaffrey sent staff, she said Jefferson College Police Chief Paul Ferber “has been asked to assess the department and make recommendations by spring 2023 for future operations relative to costs and staffing challenges of the department.”
She said the college will consider several possibilities for policing the college’s campuses, including “(1) maintaining the current operation of the (Police Department) by the college, (2) outsourcing security to a private agency or (3) creating a hybrid model or establishing a (memorandum of understanding) for operations by the Hillsboro Police Department or Jefferson County Sheriff’s (Office).”
McCaffrey said it’s also possible other alternatives could come to light as a result of the assessment.
“Nothing has been decided at this time,” she said in the memo. “Any decision to deviate from the current operational system would not be implemented until next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2023, at the earliest.”
Steve Meinberg, president of the college’s Board of Trustees and chief of the Hillsboro Police, said Monday he had just learned about the plan to assess the Jefferson College Police Department, adding that staff normally completes studies before presenting the information to the board.
The Jefferson College Police Department became an official, independent police department in December 2014 during a swearing-in ceremony for its leaders. Prior to that, campus public safety team members did not carry weapons or make arrests. They were authorized only to enforce campus regulations.