History of the Department of Public Safety

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The Security Office

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Public Safety developed from a group of night watchmen into one of the largest and most effective law enforcement agencies in Southern Illinois. This brief history sketches its development as an integral part of Southern Illinois University.

Illinois University was founded in 1869 as a small teacher’s college. A rapid growth during the 1950’s and 1960’s affected every department in the university community. The Klein Report of 1949 reorganized the university and recommended regulations and bylaws of the Board of Trustees, which approved them. Two sections of the bylaws gave the 'Security Office' its beginning under the director of the physical plant.

In 1951 eight night watchmen were employed. By 1952 a position of Head Watchman was established, thus providing the department’s first “Chief.” In 1953 the title of Night Watchman was dropped, and new civil service classifications were created for police officers, allowing the Sheriff to deputize them as sworn law enforcement officers. The job duties were the same despite the job’s name change.

In 1957 the Illinois State Legislature gave the Board of Trustees the authority to create a 'Security Office' with full police powers, and thus the Security Office was created. With the advent of full police powers, the department began to expand and separated itself from the Physical Plant in 1959.

Between 1959 and 1960 the Security Office was granted its own police radio frequency, equipped its first police cars, and created an unarmed student security force to augment the sworn officers. The student security force was named the Saluki Patrol.

In 1963 the department divided into two major divisions, Patrol and Investigations.

In 1965 the Security Office was reorganized to include the following divisions: Patrol, Investigations, Communications and Records, Special Services, and Key Control.

In 1967 Parking Division left the Office of Student Affairs and came under the authority of the Security Office.

By 1971 the Security Office had expanded into ten separate divisions and employed over 90 permanent personnel, thirty-five Saluki Patrolmen, and twenty student workers.

In 1996 the Security Office was renamed as the Department of Public Safety. In 2002 Key Control became the responsibility of Plant and Service Operations.

Parking Division

In the late 1940's, exact date unknown, a Parking and Safety Committee of concerned staff and faculty was formed. From these beginnings the present Traffic and Parking Division has evolved. At that time, Parking and Safety was the responsibility of the Dean of Men in the Student Affairs Office. As time passed, Safety was made into a separate unit and Parking became the Traffic and Parking Division of the University Security Department.

In the mid 1950's the campus was beginning to grow and to actively seek and attract first generation college students. These students, for the most part, were from middle income families. One of the selling points of the University was that a vehicle was not a necessary college expense.

In 1955 the Board of Trustees approved the recommendation made by the parking committee that fines for traffic and parking violations for faculty, staff, and students be levied and collected locally, and that a fee be levied for the privilege of using University facilities. Tickets written before this were on city citations. This opened the way for writing University parking tickets and generating revenue for parking facilities.

In 1956 the Board of Trustees passed a recommendation that beginning 1957 freshmen would not be permitted vehicles and each successive year the restriction would extend to the next advanced class. This was to attain the long range objective of a "walking and bicycling" campus. In the late 50's and early 60's students found with an illegal vehicle parked within 20 miles of the campus were fined $50 and faced a possible suspension from school. Before the mid 50's anyone could have a vehicle on campus and parking decals were free

In 1996, University Security Department was renamed to the Department of Public Safety. The Department of Public Safety included the University Police, Parking Division, and Key Control.

History of the Location of the Department of Public Safety

The first permanent location for the Watchmen in the 1940’s was an old house at the corner of Grand and University near Woody Hall. It was described as “awful small, crowded, and pretty old” when the Security Office moved into it.

The next new office site was located in an old barracks north of the football field off of Harwood Avenue (Lincoln Drive). The entire 9-man security force was located in one 12 x 30 room which served as the office, locker room, communications area, and storage room. The “Communications Officer” shared one phone with the janitorial crew that occupied the office next to them. The phone sat on a ledge built into the wall between the two offices.

In 1959 the Security Office was moved into Anthony Hall where it occupied four rooms and had its own telephone.

In February, 1961, the Security Office was moved into the old Student Center, which was an old barracks building located north of the present Student Center, at the end of Harwood Avenue (near the location of Faner). This facility had five rooms plus a kitchen.

In 1962 the Security Office was moved into the “Conference House” located north of the football field in the grassy area between the field and Harwood Avenue (now called Lincoln Drive). The entire house was given to the Security Office and had eight rooms.

In 1965 the Security Office was moved to a location once used as the President’s Home and later the Student Health Service. This location was inside the old white house on South Washington Street (formerly Lewis Avenue) under the north pedestrian overpass. In 1970, eight trailers were added to this location to house the Security Office.

During the mid-1970’s, the Security Office was moved into Washington Square, Building A, which was next to Parking Division’s location in Washington Square, Building D. Key Control was also relocated from the Home Economics Building (Quigley Hall) into the Washington Square complex (little a).

In the mid-1980's, the Security Office's 'Patrol Division' needed room to expand. A house located immediately north of Washington Square A and referred to as 'The White House' was utilized by the patrol division as a squad room. University Housing's administration offices, which shared space with Parking Division in Washington Square D, needed room to expand. Major departmental shuffling occurred that in the end located DPS in Washington Square Buildings A and B (including little a), Continuing Education in Washington Square C, and Housing Administration in Washington Square D. In Washington Square B, Parking Division was relocated to the ground floor, Patrol Operations on the first floor, and Support Services on the second floor. 'The White House' was turned over to the Saluki Patrol for their operations and locker room space.