UNR Police Seek Outside Help

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UNR's Police department has faced some tough times in recent months, but say they're now making progress. A restructuring of their policing program was announced Thursday, changing the way officers will help keep the campus community safe.

UNR leadership hopes the new structure will simply mean more officers on patrol on campus, and therefore an all-around safer learning environment for students who go here...but there is some history to this story.

Since the start of the year, the department chief and his staff have been in the spotlight and not always for positive reasons.

Back in February, 14 UNR police officers signed letters of "no confidence" in Chief Adam Garcia's leadership. They claimed he left them logistically and mentally unprepared to keep up with patrols.

This, just over a month after 19-year-old Brianna Denison went missing from a home near the campus, frightening students and gaining national attention.

Even as recent as last month, the UNR police department was accused of circulating pornographic emails within the office. It's been a tough year for UNR police.

"All of them decided collectively that they would like to have an outside organization help them through some of the issues they had. I'll point out that most of those were professional differences," said Ron Zurek, Vice President of Administration & Finance at UNR.

Zurek says it wasn't one thing that led to the restructuring...but that a growing number of students on campus means a need for better safety measures and quicker response times.

He says the solution stems from better communication and organization within the department, starting right at the top.

"We have taken a number of supervision positions out and taken those supervisors and in fact, put them back out onto the street to patrol campus and the surrounding areas," added Zurek.

He says there are now more "feet on the street." 21 officers will now patrol the campus, instead of just 17. The school also added 25 new emergency phones to the campus, allowing students quicker access to "911." Students say they welcome the changes.

"I feel a lot safer after the whole Brianna incident. It seems like they've upgraded their security a lot," said UNR sophomore, Shayla Zeal.

Zurek says UNR patrol officers and sergeants no longer have a long chain of command to go through to get to the top. Instead, they all answer to Chief Garcia directly...which leadership hopes will clear up some of the communication issues.

Campus leaders say other changes have been made to increase student safety as well. Self-defense classes are now offered on campus, and the shuttle bus schedule has been modified to accomodate students with late-night classes.

They say most of all, recent crimes have brought personal safety to the forefront, and therefore, students themselves are reacting by making smarter choices and decisions.