CSO program elimination

Question

The CSO program was recently eliminated. Who made this decision, and how much money will this save the university? Is there a chance that the program will return when the budget situation improves?

Response

The community safety officer program was a long-standing program of the UAF Police Department to employ students to provide additional security patrols and other supports to the UAF community.

The elimination of the program is a decision that I made (reluctantly) as one of many budget reduction steps to address the nearly 20 percent reduction in funding from all sources for the Division of Administrative Services in FY 17. This budget reduction option was discussed with the UAF Planning and Budget Committee (which recommended that it be preserved, but didn’t have alternate ideas for other comparably sized cuts) and with the chancellor and members of the Core Cabinet. I deferred finalizing until we saw the final budget allocation from the state in hopes that we’d have funds to preserve it.

Some of the factors considered were:

  • Preserving a minimum staffing level of fully sworn law enforcement officers. The Police Department is now the lowest staffed it has ever been (including compared to the lean budget years of the late 1980s and 1990s).
  • UAF’s safety services are a priority; however, other required Administrative Services units have taken proportionally deeper reductions and are now short-staffed.
  • The Police Department saw the elimination of a police officer position, reducing the total from nine to eight and requiring the reassignment of the lieutenants back to patrol positions; one of the lieutenants had also supervised the CSO program.
  • The staffing changes and the elimination of the CSO program (which are interrelated) resulted in savings of approximately $275,000 to the Police Department. (This is not net savings, as other units at the university, particularly Facilities Services, will bear some additional costs.)

Yes, there is a chance the program will return if the budget improves. The Police Department viewed the CSO program as a relatively cost-effective “force magnifier.”  In addition, it was a good opportunity for students to explore a law enforcement career and as such fits with UAF’s education mission.

Kari Burrell
Vice chancellor for administrative services