Part time security officers outnumber full timers
For all security, visibility is key
When entering through the Davern, or Huss entrance at school, it is almost impossible not the see the friendly faces of the St. Paul Academy and Summit School security officers occupying their desks. Their roles are seemingly simple: monitor cameras throughout the school, check-in visiting parents or guests, and most importantly, keep the people in SPA and the campus safe. Their jobs are, for the majority, exceptionally visible. Students and faculty interact with the security officers constantly, both in the morning, throughout the school day, and into the evening when a multitude of after-school activities take place. With their continual permanence within SPA halls, what is not always apparent is the transparency of their numbers.
Currently, SPA has 5 full time security officers and 7 part time officers. The reasoning is clear: in the past 10 years, SPA has made it a goal to increase these numbers. Full time security officers serve at their respective desks. There are 4 permanent officers on the Randolph Campus, two of which are responsible for the Davern and Huss desks on campus, and one security officer is stationed at the Goodrich campus. One such permanent officer who does not serve at a desk is Supervisor of Safety and Security, Craig Kosse.
“We are in charge of three security desks. At the Goodrich campus, I have an officer down there (a full time officer), and at the Randolph campus, I have a security officer at the front desk full time and a security officer at the Huss desk full time. I also have a patrol officer who walks around and checks doors and makes sure that the schools are secure,” Kosse said.
As a supervisor, Kosse’s work day consists of contacting security officers, managing the school’s safety as a whole, and sending schedules out to those security officers who are here part time. Kosse ultimately ensures the SPA security runs smoothly.
“Generally, the part time staff that we have know what’s going on. I try to communicate myself as best as I can through email, written schedule documents on events and other happenings around the campus,” Kosse said.
Director of Operations Mark Dickinson explains that the number of full time and part time officers who occupy the school has increased in part because that has been a goal for SPA for quite some time.
“I’ve been here for a little over a year and a half. It’s not so much my goal [to increase the number of our security officers] as it is the school’s goal to put greater emphasis on school security. It’s a reflection of society. Ten years ago there weren’t as many security officers here, and we hope we don’t need people, but it’s for risk management,” Dickinson said.
Dickinson’s typical work day constantly varies. As Director of Operations, he is in charge of security, the food service company and the maintenance company. He also aids in the oversight of campus construction.
“My responsibilities are to manage operations and security. I have the maintenance grounds, the arena, food service, cleaning, and I’m also the owner’s representative on the construction projects. My day is varied. Some days I start first thing in the morning with construction meetings, and I’ll touch base with the food service almost daily. Cleaning issues, maintenance issues, construction all goes through me. One thing that is most enjoyable about the jobs is that I have to change hats often. I’ll be talking to the chef about food service issues and then I will go deal with security,” Dickinson said.
Security officers occupy SPA from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the school week and from 8 a.m. to 9 or 10 p.m. Part-time security officers are needed because often full eight-hour shifts are not always necessary. Having part time officers at SPA in no way changes the overall security of the campus. They are needed often on the weekends, for school events like the Pops Concert, Homecoming or graduation.
In fact, Kosse and Dickinson conduct interviews for all security officers, both part time and full time. SPA is unique in that all security officers are hired in house officers, meaning that SPA does not hire from a company.
“Like any vacancy for an employee, the school advertises wherever it’s appropriate to seek candidates. If the person is reasonable then we hire them. There’s a discussion about in house versus outsource or contract. Historically, the school had people who are school employees as security, the school does outsource the food service (Taher), and also the cleaning crew is outsourced. At this juncture, the school has been increasing its number of security people, and when they work the hours, so we have been doing it with school employees,” Dickinson said.
Dickinson explains that because the economy is quite stable right now, hiring part time security officers has proven to be somewhat difficult. Hiring more part time security officers than full time officers, however, is the most cost-efficient according to Dickinson. Additionally, there are particular benefits that full time officers recieve that part time officers do not receive.
“There are labor laws, so when you hire full time people, there are certain benefits you have to supply. The school has its list of benefits, so full time people receive the same school benefits as other full time employees. Part time workers do not receive benefits, depending upon the number of hours they work. We have a competitive wage, we want to pay our people a fair wage, but it’s partly competitive because we want to get good people,” Dickinson said.
Student and faculty daily can witness security officers at their designated desks, walking around campus to ensure safety, and patrolling traffic in the morning and afternoon. These visible roles are deliberate and serve to improve the connections and understanding for students.
“I would say that much of what our security officers do is for the purpose of being visible. Students, faculty, staff witness about ninety percent of what security officers are doing. That’s the intent, we want them visible. We talk about security as being a combination of security but also customer service and public relations. We want them to be interactive with students, and to help visitors and parents coming in. They can also monitor the security cameras on campus. Most everything they do is sort of out and about around the campus. The same thing is true with the part-time staff. They are either sitting at the desk or patrolling, and they do the lockup at the end of the day,” Dickinson said.
Although the majority of security’s work is easily seen by students and faculty, there are still certain tasks that go by unnoticed. During the school day, if somebody opens or props a door that goes outside open, security officers get an alarm and one officer is sent to see if someone tried to force that door open. They check that no one who does not belong at school is trying to get in.
Major school events require all security officers to be present, and the number of part time officers is particularly useful at these events.
“We have security who are at all school events. Especially big events like the Pops Concert, graduation. At graduation, I have almost all of my security officers there. We are stationed throughout the campus. We have officers that are patrolling, officers that are on guard, officers that are on golf carts that are helping with traffic control, including in Homecoming. Ensuring that traffic flows properly and that people are parking in the proper places,” Kosse said.
Whether a part time or full time security officer, the mantra of SPA safety remains universal: keeping SPA students, faculty and staff safe from potential threat, intrusion or emergency.