By Bintia Drame
York College’s Public Safety Department welcomed a newly appointed Director of Safety, Rufus Massiah. Massiah has a Master’s degree in Urban Studies, Public Policy, and has over 20 years of experience in security.
Massiah started as a campus peace officer at Queens College in 1994 and worked his way up to Deputy Director. Massiah, who took over in the wake of last semester’s highly critical New York State safety audit, declined requests for an interview.
The state audit found a variety of malfeasance including officers sleeping on duty, and getting paid for shifts they did not work. Unqualified safety officers were also paid for fire watch duty. Officers of the public safety department said the addition of the new director is a move in the right direction for improving the department.
“[Massiah] comes here to restore public safety and he brings a professional attitude,” said R. Lewis, a York College public safety officer. “I think he would be good for a change, and that’s what CUNY needs right now.”
Faculty and students seem to view the work of the public safety department positively, and consider the findings of the state audit as an internal management problem. “I think given what happened last time with the falsifying of time sheets, it’s good to have someone from the outside who is not buddy-buddy with everybody and has a fresher view,” said Matthew Corcoran, an English professor at York. “It is positive when the person is more independent from the start. Otherwise, I feel very safe, I feel like I can sit in my office with the door open and my back to the door.”
The checking of student identification cards at all campus entrances has been stepped up this semester. “That’s been one of his earliest mandates, is that ID’s ought to be checked, if you walk past us, we have to identify you, call it on the radio and they can stop you inside,” said officer R. Lewis. “Whereas in the past nobody went about doing any of that.”
Several students said they think the majority of the public safety officers do their jobs well. “I never felt unsafe even before,” said Anna Konopko a History major. “But on occasion I’ll see them step in when someone has a complaint.”
Kavish Panday, a Biology freshman at York, found the officers to be helpful and friendly.
“They seem to be no trouble; the staff is really nice and they go out of their way to help,” said Panday.