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September 15, 1994

New Public Safety director chosen

Rick Boyd, former executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs Association, became Pitt's new Public Safety Director on Sept. 12.

Boyd brings to the job 23 years of experience in the law enforcement field, both as a police officer and as an administrator. He is Pitt's first permanent Public Safety director since William Brennan resigned the post in March 1993.

In addition to directing the sheriffs association, Boyd also has served as an undersheriff for Ingham County, Mich., as a special investigator with the Tri-County Metro Narcotics Squad in Lansing, Mich., and as a member of the public safety department at Michigan State University.

At Michigan State, Boyd worked as program coordinator for community team policing, as a police lieutenant, a sergeant and a patrol officer. "He's got good experience on a good size campus," said Assistant Vice Chancellor for Business John DeVitto. "We're pleased with him. He's pleased with coming here." During his time at Michigan State, Boyd was awarded several medals of merit and, in 1984, was named university employee of the year. He also has earned awards from the Michigan State Police, the U.S. Department of Justice and Ingham County, Mich.

Boyd's professional training includes graduate work at the F.B.I. National Academy and the University of Virginia and a master's of science in criminal justice from Michigan State University.

About his plans for Pitt's Public Safety department, Boyd said: "I certainly didn't come here with any particular agenda in mind and I didn't get the notion from the University administration or the search committee that they were, in fact, looking for someone who had a particular agenda." However, Boyd said, he is very impressed with what he has seen so far of the Public Safety department, especially the officers. He said he thinks that interim director Gary Moses has done a "wonderful job over the past year and a half." Boyd also said he has seen a number of university operations and thinks Pitt's is "top notch" and that the quality of the department was one of the reasons he wanted the job. Another reason he wanted to come to Pitt was because he had visited Pittsburgh on a number of occasions in the past and liked what he saw of the city. "I love the area," he said.

While pointing out that there were almost as many concerns voiced about public safety as people he spoke with when he was being interviewed for the position, Boyd said his overall concern is that the Public Safety department do everything possible to promote the safety of students, faculty and staff.

Boyd says public safety is more of a challenge at an urban campus like Pitt than at most university campuses. "But this appeals to me because it is a challenge and because I find this to be a friendly environment, unlike some city campuses I've been to," he added.

The friendliness of the people on the Pitt campus and in the surrounding community is in sharp contrast to what Boyd has seen at Wayne State University in Detroit, which he said is "not a friendly environment. It is almost a school under siege in some respects. Crime has gotten away in many areas of Detroit and it is very difficult to control." Although Boyd is certain Pittsburgh and the Pitt campus have their own crime problems, he believes those problems are still controllable.

"Crime is not rampant in the city of Pittsburgh," he noted. "It is not rampant on this campus. It is not out of control and I sense an attitude that prevails here that offers a lot of positives, a lot of encouragement. People seem to be very outgoing and friendly. They seem to interact and mix better than a lot of places where I've been. Those are all things that help cut down on crime." While making it clear that he cannot be specific about any plans he might have for the Public Safety department until he gets to know the campus and the city better, Boyd says he is a proponent of community policing and putting officers out on the street where they are visible and readily accessible to the public.

"Bike patrols and foot patrols are perfect examples of community policing programs," he explained. "It is probably taken for granted here, but on most campuses you don't have very many, if any, officers assigned outside of a vehicle, specifically to get out and walk around and make contact with people. "To me that is really the essence of community policing," he added.

According to Boyd, Pitt already has more officers out on foot than in cars. He said discussions also have been conducted about possibly setting up substations around campus.

"You could take a program like that, combine it with the bike and the foot patrol programs, combine it with some of the things that already are being done to teach crime prevention and awareness and you could hopefully have a pretty dynamic program here at Pitt as it relates to community policing," he said.

Since Pitt is an urban campus, Boyd also hopes that the students overcome their natural apathy and take a little more time to think about their personal safety than they would on a rural campus.

–Mike Sajna

Filed under: Feature,Volume 27 Issue 2

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