Lisle, Illinois ~ The Benedictine University Police Department is celebrating 10 years of keeping the Lisle campus safe during a time of rapid growth and change locally and throughout the higher education landscape.
It started when Benedictine officials decided to transition from a contracted security agency to a state-commissioned police force under the Illinois Private College Campus Police Act.
The change gave sworn police officers full authority to make arrests on campus and included new squad cars, policies, technology and procedures.
Previously, contracted security officers patrolled campus, but could not make arrests without calling 911. They also did not have access to law enforcement databases and other sources of criminal intelligence.
“Today, we can provide the same level of service that you would get from your hometown community police,” said Michael Salatino, chief of the Benedictine University Police.
Salatino oversaw the transition to the private campus police department and was responsible for recruiting the first team of officers at Benedictine.
“We wanted people who had law enforcement experience and also knew how to apply their skill set in a campus environment,” Salatino said.
Initially, the department operated out of a three-room office in the basement of the Krasa Student Center with nine sworn officers. Today, it includes 14 sworn officers, two unarmed community service officers and one dispatch/records manager who work out of an office specifically designed for police in the lower level of the University’s parking garage.
“We have interview rooms that are private, offices for the patrol officers, a holding area, an evidence locker, a training room and an operation center, and an emergency dispatch center with advanced computer technology,” Salatino said.
In 2010, Benedictine Police helped write a statewide amendment to expand the powers of private campus police beyond the property limits of their home institutions.
The amendment allows officers to pursue calls or cases off campus and wherever the University has property or interest, such as DuPage and Cook counties, Springfield, Ill., and Mesa, Ariz.
In 2013, they were named the first private university law enforcement agency in Illinois to be accredited by the Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program.
“We are also recognized regionally as a leader in the industry,” Salatino said.
BenU Police officers regularly review plans for campus emergencies in conjunction with the University’s emergency preparedness manager and safety specialist.
While the University hasn’t been directly involved in a severe emergency since the establishment of the Benedictine University Police, it has served as an American Red Cross shelter for DuPage County residents displaced by flooding, fire, power outages and severe snowstorms.
They have also increased crime prevention awareness and police-community partnerships with the “National Night Out” event, for which they won an award in 2015 for outstanding participation from the National Association of Town Watch.
As a result of the organization’s multiple preventative crime and safety measures, Benedictine continues to be recognized as one of the safest campuses in Illinois and the nation.
BenU was recently named the safest four-year university in Illinois, according to a 2015 listing by StateUniversity.com for campus crime reported in 2014.
Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fifth consecutive year in 2015. A 2016 PayScale Inc. report ranked BenU one of the top 10 colleges in Illinois for return on investment and in the top 20 percent nationally. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, email@example.com or visit ben.edu.