The University of Connecticut is not currently hiring new police officers to the UConn Police Department, according to University Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz, after UConn activist group #EverybodyEatsButUConn posted on social media that UConn is filling 20 vacant police officer positions.
On a phone call that included President Thomas Katsouleas, CFO Scott Jordan and students with the activist group, while discussing the UCPD, Jordan mentioned vacancies in the force and encouraged students to apply if they were interested.
“At any given time, we’ve got 20+ vacancies,” Jordan said in a recording of the phone call obtained by The Daily Campus.
Reitz clarified that UCPD has reduced the number of positions from 107 down to 100 in the past few years, which includes officers who are stationed across the state.
“Due to the length in the hiring and training process (about one year from initial date of application) to be able to work as a police officer in Connecticut, UConn Police Department is always projecting out our vacancies and what positions need to be filled to meet minimum shift standards,” Reitz said. “Making planning projections for the future is entirely different from the claim that we are ‘hiring 20 officers.’”
On the phone call, Katsouleas said that Associate Vice President of Public Safety and UCPD Chief of Police Hans Rhynhart is open to reinvesting and reprioritizing.
“[Rhynhart] can see reprioritizing officer alliance toward civilian alliance, particularly focused on mental health care,” Katsouleas said on the call. “There are certain scenarios where someone in plain clothes can be much more effective than a very well trained, well meaning officer in uniform, because of the triggering effect.”
#EverybodyEatsButUConn said in a statement that UConn is not responding to calls from students across the state to divest from police departments and instead redirect funds to other resources.
“UConn administrators are actively choosing to ignore student voices during this time,” the group said in the statement. “We hope UConn puts out a public statement about this, in order to provide much needed clarity about where they stand on their ‘re-investment.’ This seems to be another example of distorting information to say it’s false.”
When asked about the reinvestment of UCPD, Reitz said this does not include adding more police officer positions.
“The president, CFO and public safety director have discussed ‘re-deployment’ of existing officer duties to better serve students,” Reitz said. “Including with mental health needs, not ‘reinvestment’ to add more positions.”