T-Sgt. Nate Leonard, Columnist
Hello everyone! My name is Nate Leonard and I am a technical sergeant with the SUNY Oneonta University Police Department here in Oneonta. Starting last school year, I have had the opportunity to contribute a column to the State Times on a regular basis. I thought for the first column I would give you a brief introduction to our department and the employees that make it up. Your university police department is comprised of 17 sworn full-time police officers and six dispatchers. Of the 17 sworn members, there is the chief of police, four lieutenants, four technical sergeants and eight officers.
The University Police Department is located in Alumni Hall and is open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. The university police mission statement states that our department “was established primarily to maintain it and preserve the peace on campus. It also serves to protect the life and property of all individuals who utilize the college facilities including students, faculty, staff and visitors. The UPD recruits personnel who are able to relate to and be part of the college community.” That last sentence brings me to one of the questions I am frequently asked by people: “How do you become a police officer at a college?” The process to become a New York State university police officer is no different than becoming a police officer at any other full-time department in NYS. The first step is to take the civil service exam, which is held every couple of years. One area that is different between a university police exam and other police exams is that you are required to have an Associates Degree or 60 college credit hours to even take the university police exam, while many police departments only require a high school education. If you score high enough, you may be contacted by several NYS universities to see if you are interested in a position with one of their departments. You will then need to go through the interview process, an extensive background investigation and pass a physical fitness test. If you make it through all of these stages you will then be sent to a police academy. In the police academy, you will receive approximately 700 hours of instruction, which include 160 hours of field training at your respective department. As you can see, there is a big commitment when one decides to become an officer in the State University police system.
I hope I have shed a little light on who we are and what it takes to become a member of the New York State University Police Department. You are likely to see us walking through dorms, watching athletic events or just out and about. Feel free to stop in and say “hi” and ask us any questions you may have. In future columns, I hope to give more information about the services and many programs that our department offers to the college community. If there is a topic you would like addressed, please send me an email at [email protected] and I will do my best to answer any questions.