Public Safety’s Disintegration

Our issue is that there was a major lack of transparency to the student body regarding this change, which led to the disintegration of the entire organization of Campus Public Safety and the hire of Gardaworld. Many worry about the reputation of this self-described ‘militaristic’ security company, which appears in multiple scandals involving hoarded weapons and the hiring of ex-child soldiers without offering sensitivity training. Concerns have also arisen regarding the lack of accountability that a private police force would bring to Goucher, which some believe may intensify existing problems of racial discrimination.

The official source of our grievances is within the following email sent to the student body by Dean Bryan Coker on November 12, 2019, at 5 PM:

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

I am writing to provide an update on Public Safety, given the recent leadership changes in the department. You will recall my previous communication, sharing the news of our engagement with GardaWorld, an international security services company, to provide an Interim Director of Public Safety and to conduct an assessment of the Public Safety department. We have been very impressed with GardaWorld, specifically their professionalism, resource network, and their desire to learn and understand our campus culture.

This afternoon, we informed Public Safety staff members that, effective December 16, 2019, GardaWorld will become the sole provider of security services for Goucher, assuming all responsibilities now fulfilled by the Public Safety department. As we hone our focus on the college’s core functions and seek efficiencies, it is only prudent to consider partnerships with specialized external vendors such as GardaWorld, who can provide high-quality services while freeing the college of administrative tasks and overhead. We already have such a model for our food/dining services, through our partnership with Bon Appétit Management Company.

Until December 16, current Public Safety staff members will continue to be employed by Goucher, and in the coming days they will have the opportunity to apply for positions with GardaWorld, both at Goucher and other GardaWorld sites. It will be the choice of existing Public Safety staff members whether or not to apply for these GardaWorld positions, and ultimately GardaWorld’s choice to hire them.

With this transition, we will also be changing the department name from “Public Safety” to “Campus Safety.” And of course, our Campus Safety focus will continue to be one that is community-oriented, with non-armed and non-sworn officers, who do not have powers of arrest. We anticipate that you will see only positive improvements from this overall change, as GardaWorld will expand our security expertise tremendously, providing the vast resources of an international company with a strong Baltimore-area network.

Attached to this message you will find a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document, with additional information regarding this transition. We are excited about this partnership with GardaWorld, which will further actualize our commitment to a campus environment in which all community members can learn, live, and serve successfully.

Sincerely,

Bryan F. Coker, Ph.D.

Vice President and Dean of Students

The content of the FAQ mentioned in the email is below:

What’s happening?
Effective December 16, 2019, GardaWorld will become the sole provider of security services for Goucher, through a contractual agreement with the college. GardaWorld will assume all responsibilities now fulfilled by the Public Safety department. There will be a Director of Campus Safety, employed by GardaWorld, who reports – and is accountable – to Goucher. With this transition, we are also changing the department’s name from “Public Safety” to “Campus Safety.”

What is “GardaWorld?”
GardaWorld is the largest privately-owned security services company in the world, serving 35,000 clients worldwide, with 92,000 employees across 45 countries. We are fortunate that GardaWorld has a strong local leadership team in our area, with longstanding ties to Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

Why this change?
While we have successfully administered Public Safety ourselves for many years, it has not been without challenges, such as scheduling complications and employee turnover. The GardaWorld partnership provides us with access to a large pool of vetted and highly trained staff members, as well as with relief from administrative tasks including recruiting, payroll, and scheduling. Through the Administrative Review Process, we have been seeking more efficient and smarter ways of operating and given the recent departure of the Director of Public Safety, this was an opportune time to consider and make this change.

Will the current Public Safety staff members continue working at Goucher?
Until December 16, current Public Safety staff members will continue to be employed by Goucher, and in the coming days they will have the opportunity to apply for positions with GardaWorld, both at Goucher and other GardaWorld sites. It will be the choice of existing Public Safety staff members whether or not to apply for these GardaWorld positions, and ultimately the prerogative of GardaWorld to hire them. On December 16, any and all employees working in Campus Safety at Goucher will be GardaWorld employees.

What is “outsourcing” or “privatization?”
Outsourcing or privatization is the practice in which a college or other entity partners with an external vendor to perform tasks, handle operations, or provide services that have previously been performed by the college’s own employees. Goucher already has such a partnership in place for food/dining services, with Bon Appétit Management Company. Outsourcing allows a college to focus more on its core functions, by partnering with an external provider who specializes in an area (such as security or food/dining services) and therefore has greater resources than the college has alone. Such partnerships also relieve administrative burdens on colleges, since tasks such as scheduling, payroll, and daily management are usually the responsibility of the external vendor. For a college, outsourcing typically means higher-quality services backed by an extensive resource network, all at lower costs.

What changes will the campus community see, with this transition?
Our community should see only positive changes, including improvements in Campus Safety operations, given GardaWorld’s high standards and expectations. Our Campus Safety focus will continue to be one that is community-oriented, with non-armed and non-sworn officers, who do not have powers of arrest. The guidelines and regulations that Campus Safety enforces will continue to be those guidelines and regulations determined and set by Goucher.  Otherwise, we expect that you will simply be seeing some new friendly faces on the Campus Safety staff.