New Public Safety director to allow armed officers on campus

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New Public Safety director to allow armed officers on campus

The new Public Safety uniforms are blue to help officers stand out, instead of their traditional black uniforms.   Photo by Kayla Drake

The new Public Safety uniforms are blue to help officers stand out, instead of their traditional black uniforms.
Photo by Kayla Drake

The new Public Safety uniforms are blue to help officers stand out, instead of their traditional black uniforms.
Photo by Kayla Drake

The new Public Safety uniforms are blue to help officers stand out, instead of their traditional black uniforms.
Photo by Kayla Drake

Garrett Anderson, Reporter

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GARRETT ANDERSON | Reporter

The new director of Public Safety, Ryan Anderson, set ambitious plans to change the way the office currently operates, including hiring armed officers on campus.

“We want to set the bar higher for who we hire onto our staff,” he said.

Anderson says the program plans to hire and train certified officers to carry a firearm on campus.

This will be the first time campus security on the Lindenwood-St. Charles campus will have armed officers on staff.

“We are not taking that decision lightly, we want the right person with the right demeanor to have that responsibility,” he said.

Anderson said the changes are necessary for the safety of students and faculty.

A transfer from Lindenwood-Belleville’s campus, Ryan Anderson was previously the director of Public Safety at Belleville. Once Lindenwood-Belleville announced that they were ending their undergraduate program, Anderson moved to the St. Charles campus. John Bowman, the previous Public Safety director at St. Charles, essentially switched, as he is now the director at Belleville.

Anderson said he wants to encourage more officer interaction with students and said it starts with training.

“Instead of just patrolling and writing tickets…we’re stressing [for officers] to make contact with whoever.”

After looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the office, Anderson decided to order new uniforms.

“We sat down at a conference and I looked around and we had four different [Lindenwood] departments sitting right next to each other and I couldn’t tell the difference,” Anderson said.

Ryan Anderson moved from the Belleville campus this fall to become the public safety director for Lindenwood-St. Charles.
Photo by Garrett Anderson

The idea of getting new uniforms is meant to professionalize the department and make officers more recognizable, Anderson said. Campus Security plans to soon pass out S.O.S. cards, containing important emergency numbers on campus, at crosswalks.

Anderson began his law enforcement career as a probation officer in the third judicial circuit in Madison County, Illinois in 1999. He worked at a detention center as a juvenile correctional officer, then became a supervisor. Ten years later, he was laid off due to state budget cuts to the program.

“I then got into policing,” he said. “A guy came to our academy class from Lindenwood and said if you come work for us we will give you free education.”

Anderson then started attending classes at Lindenwood-Belleville part-time and worked for campus security on Mondays. Anderson graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s in criminal justice administration and in 2016 with a masters in business administration.

Until a few years ago, Belleville did not have a full-time department for Public Safety. The campus used commissioned cops to help supplement security for campus housing and buildings. In 2014, they created a full-time staff, and hired Anderson as assistant director; then, he worked up to become the director.

Even when dealing with parking tickets, Anderson said he takes it as an opportunity to meet with the student body and ask for feedback on Public Safety. He said he can have as many as five students come in a day.

Anderson said he wants to encourage more reporting from Public Safety and says more reporting resulted in increased transparency on Belleville’s campus.

Editor’s note: Kayla Drake contributed to this story.