Department of the Year Award
2020 National Finalist
The Department of the Year Award recognizes outstanding accomplishment in student and campus safety by a U.S. college or university administrative department.
Dixie State University
Department of Public Safety
With six sworn police officers, and one civilian employee, the Dixie State University Department of Public Safety worked collectively and individually to reach major milestones and benchmarks initially believed would take five years or more to achieve, in one year.
Chief Blair Barfuss on his first day of employment with the university literally found human feces in an evidence bag in the departments break room freezer and untested rape kits in the break room refrigerator. Add this to cash, valuables, and evidence laying on tables throughout the department, no policy manual or procedures in existence, a police administrator using department-issued equipment to record sex acts and pornography, a department lacking identity and credibility with the community, and missing evidence, it was apparent that immediate and significant changes needed to be made.
All employees of the Department of Public Safety answered the call, taking on significant and tedious reviews and assignments to make success occur. Below are bullet points highlighting key strategic changes made this past year, within Dixie State University’s Department of Public Safety. A few key web links of media coverage are provided for reference. These bullet points are an attempt to briefly recap significant projects, work, time, and collaborative successes. If additional information is requested for any achievements listed below, please contact me and I will provide what is requested.
2019 Key Changes
– A complete and legally defensible public safety policy and procedure manual was written, reviewed, and implemented, utilizing DSU’s General Counsel’s office, Administration, Human Resources, Risk Management, and many others, to integrate and work in partnership with DSU policy and procedure.
– Dixie State University Department of Public Safety is the first and only university in Utah, to complete and receive agency accreditation through the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, and the only university to have agency accreditation of any kind.
– A five-year strategic plan addressing community engagement, department and university growth, resource management, including new programs and partnerships, was created and implemented with yearly reviews and community input.
– A Career Development Program was created and implemented for police officers in conjunction with a complete compensation plan, which received approval after significant collaboration and review with Administration and Human Resources.
– The Start By Believing campaign was brought to DSU for the first time ever and will continue to occur yearly as part of our sexual assault awareness and response program. This received excellent community involvement, partnerships with community resource centers, victim advocates, and opened trust and dialog between students, staff, faculty, and the DSU Police Department.
– Creation and implementation of our Campus Safety Plan, in compliance with Utah House Bill 134, clearly accessible on the DSU main web page, the DSU Department of Public Safety main web page, and throughout the DSU website.
– Mandatory FBI and state BCI NIBRS police crime statistics are now in compliance with state law for the first time ever.
– Collaborative and positive working relationships developed with all surrounding police agencies throughout the county, attorney’s offices, and criminal justice partners, which previously did not exist.
– Body Camera Program – now fully functional and implemented, creating and fostering police transparency and accountability.
– Officers are in compliance with Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) mandates (first time ever), and receiving mandatory yearly training in sexual assault investigations, implicit bias, de-escalation, mental health, crisis intervention, legislative changes, campus safety, use of force tactics, specialty trainings including Trauma-Informed Interview (TIVI) techniques, the Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP), and many other trainings like defensive tactics, firearms, policy, and procedure, etc.
– All police action is reported and documented properly through police dispatch, and digital police records systems, for the first time.
– Outside independent evidence audit was completed by a local police agency. DSUPD’s evidence officer is now trained and certified in evidence handling, and evidence policy, process, and procedures have been implemented.
– Each officer is now fully uniformed and properly equipped, including standardized body armorer, weapons, and ammunition, with cataloging and documentation of all police equipment and resources. Officers previously had body armor over ten years old, were required to purchase their own firearms, bought their own ammunition, and had not qualified with handguns for many years.
– Department image and branding program implemented, including department Core Values, Mission Statement, uniforms, equipment, awards program, challenge coin, patch projects, and social media, geared around our community-oriented policing model.
– Vehicle maintenance program created and implemented with all vehicles inspected monthly. All vehicles and older vehicle s are now up to date with maintenance and standardized with approved graphics and equipment packages. Newer vehicles are now purchased through a lease program, cycling vehicles out of the fleet every three years, standardized for fiscal responsibility, while significantly reducing vehicle repair costs.
– Standardized cash handling procedures, lost and found process and procedures, and campus security policy and procedures created and implemented.
– Recruited and hired an administrative sergeant with 22 years of invaluable experience as a major crimes detective sergeant from larger agency, to train and mentor current DSUPD officers towards professional investigative and community oriented policing standards.
Start by Believing Campaign:
The 2020 Department of the Year Award will be presented to Dixie State University along with the Department of the Year Award winner and co-finalist at the National Campus Safety Summit Award Luncheon on February 26, 2020 (Day 1 of the conference).
All conference attendees are welcome at the (free) gourmet buffet luncheon. Join us in honoring this year’s recipients.