Eastern Michigan University’s Department of Public Safety swore in six new police officers Monday afternoon as the first step in their initiative to add a total of 10 officers to the EMU police force to ramp up off campus patrols and create an additional criminal response unit devoted to investigating high-profile crimes.
Five of the new officers – Emir Vila, Michael Richardson, Michael Harhold, Bridget Bofysil and Helaina Bell – will be full-time officers. The sixth new hire, Kevin Dorsey, will be a foot patrol officer.
“This is very exciting and historical in nature,” EMU Police Chief Bob Heighes said. “We have never hired this many officers at one time before.”
With these new hires, EMU’s police force now has 34 full-time sworn police officers.
“Our overall plan is to add 10 officers, so we’re nearly halfway there,” Heighes said.
According to Heighes, the six new officers will now go through four months of training with a field-training officer. This training is designed to familiarize the new officers with the campus, university policy and to help them build relationships with members of the EMU community.
After this training, Heighes said the officers are set to join the regular rotation and assist in patrols both on and off campus.
EMU sophomore and music education major Kayla Younkin said she is happy the EMU police force is expanding and patrolling more off campus.
“Campus is really safe, but I live not even a block away and it’s scary walking sometimes,” Younkin said. “It absolutely makes a difference when you can see people protecting you.”
The expansion of EMU’s police force is in response to a recent wave of violent crimes that have killed two EMU students and left several others injured.
Heighes said the funding to allow for such a large expansion of the EMU police force is reflective of the university’s commitment to the safety of students and faculty.
“We couldn’t do this without the support from the university, students, faculty and the DPS staff,” Heighes said. “This is just one more piece to the puzzle of creating a safe environment.”
EMU junior and music education major Alan Highe feels this expansion should have happened a long time ago.
“It’s about time,” Highes said. “I think this makes going off campus a lot safer, and it’s good EMU is taking this step.”
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