By David Yarger
On Tuesday morning, the Niagara County Community College Board of Trustees agreed to partner with the Niagara County Sheriff's Office to provide a uniformed off-duty deputy sheriff on campus grounds for a morning and afternoon shift.
Once approved, Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour and NCCC Interim President William Murabito signed a memorandum to confirm the agreement.
The agreement entails that the Niagara County Sheriff's Office will provide the officer to offer additional security, respond to law enforcement incidents as required, patrol the campus grounds and provide a visible deterrent. The officer will respond to law enforcement matters on campus in areas such as buildings, grounds, parking lots, housing and other public campus property.
NCCC BOT Chairperson William Ross said providing a safe environment for the public is at the top of the board's agenda.
"One of the priorities we talked about ... is safety and security of our NCCC family, our students, our faculty, our support staff. ... We've made great strides. We've come a long way and today we're taking another giant step towards providing this safety and security for our NCCC family," Ross said.
The NCSO will begin providing an officer this upcoming fall semester, Monday through Friday. Ross also thanked Voutour for a donation around $50,000 worth of technology and equipment.
Murabito said, "I want to compliment the board. I've been involved with SUNY for a long time and safety, security and police reported to me when I was at SUNY. Some campuses it takes years ... and you were able to do it in one year, so you did a great job."
Of the partnership, Voutour said, "Schools concern me. Schools keep me up at night. We have a long way to go still with some other institutions in this county, but I applaud you for taking this step. You're not getting just a deputy sheriff, you're getting an entire sheriff's office when that guy sets foot on this campus.
"I want to say thank you for taking a very bold step, and I hope ... this is a model that others will follow."
In a release from the school, Ross Annable, chief of Campus Public Safety, outlined other changes being made in the office. "Beginning in the 2018 fall semester, NCCC Public Safety will be making some significant changes in the way we operate. Not only will we have a presence of a Niagara County Sheriff's deputy on campus from Monday-Friday, but we will also see new technology in the office in radio communications and computer programs. We will continue to implement the 'public safety' model on campus, which includes armed campus peace officers in addition to the current staff. The Niagara County Sheriff's Office will offer assistance in training existing personnel."