USF Strengthens Campus Safety

TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 22, 2008) – The University of South Florida has appointed an emergency operations manager as part of several initiatives to safeguard its Tampa campus.

Tom Cisco will serve as emergency coordinator in the event of a campus crisis, as well as organize ways to prevent crises, including building campus safety groups, ensuring campus shelter availability, and working closely with government emergency agencies. He is the former emergency manager for Shelby County, Ohio.

"While USF enjoys a generally safe campus, the security of students and employees is always of paramount concern," said USF President Judy Genshaft. "Rapid, effective and organized response in an emergency is critical, and we’ve made this a priority despite a year of budget cuts."

The new emergency manager’s position comes as part of a series of public safety initiatives USF has launched this year.

Division of Public Safety: USF created a new Division of Public Safety and hired Bruce Benson as assistant vice president. Benson was the police chief and director of public safety at Michigan State University. The division comprises the University Police Department, AlliedBarton Security, Emergency Operations, and Parking Enforcement services.

Emergency notification system: Groundwork has been laid for the implementation of a coordinated emergency notification system. The first phase of this effort will be the installation of an initial alert system involving siren/loudspeaker/strobe light warnings. The second phase will involve an interface of existing communication systems such as MoBull text messages, e-mail, Web page and digital display screens to facilitate the distribution of more detailed emergency information.

Integrated Dispatch System: University Police, AlliedBarton Security and Parking Enforcement formerly operated three separate dispatch operations on campus. All three have now been consolidated into one Public Safety dispatch system. The new, 24/7 dispatch operation allows for instant radio communication among all units that support campus safety and security.

Bicycle patrol officers: University Police have added bicycle patrol as a patrol method, increasing officer visibility and mobility on campus.

Parking Enforcement: Police officer Sgt. Frank Wassenberg, previously with University Police, has transferred to Parking Enforcement as supervisor. This move links Parking Enforcement services directly with University Police and provides the university with an additional sworn officer for crisis and overtime availability.

Training: AlliedBarton security officers and Parking Enforcement personnel are receiving additional training in traffic control, CPR, first aid, and elevator rescue during power outages.

In addition to these initiatives, efforts are underway to enhance public safety programs of student interest. These include public safety internships within the School of Criminology, Parking Enforcement student positions and student involvement in campus emergency medical stand-by operations. The Division of Public Safety has also created a Web site ( to provide on-going information about USF safety and security issues.

“USF Public Safety personnel are highly trained, proud professionals dedicated to serving the university community,” said Benson. “Organizational changes combined with the implementation of key initiatives have resulted in a coordinated public safety system for our campus. This system involves sworn police officers, security officers, parking enforcers and emergency management working and communicating closely for campus safety.”

“I’m confident that the measures that have been taken in recent months will help ensure that USF is prepared for emergency situations, and will contribute to an even more secure environment conducive to the academic and social pursuits of the university community,” said Genshaft.

Faculty, students or staff with concerns related to campus safety and security should contact Bruce Benson, Division of Public Safety, at 813-974-7719 or blbenson@admin.usf.ed .

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities. USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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