City University of New York Public Safety Department

City University of New York Public Safety Department
Common name City University of New York Public Safety
Abbreviation CUNY Public Safety
Patch of the City University of New York Public Safety Department.
Motto "Service - Integrity - Pride"

"Protecting and Serving the University Community"

Agency overview
Formed 1990
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* City of New York in the state of New York, USA
Map of New York Highlighting New York City.svg
Map of City University of New York Public Safety Department's jurisdiction.
Legal jurisdiction New York State
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction Buildings and lands occupied or explicitly controlled by the educational institution and the institution's personnel, and public entering the buildings and immediate precincts of the institution.
Operational structure
Campus Peace Officers 650
Agency executive William Barry, University Director of Public Safety
Colleges 23 Colleges

All colleges operated by the City University of New York

CUNY Official Site
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The City University of New York Public Safety Department (CUNY Public Safety) is the fifth largest law enforcement agency in New York City whose duties are to protect all campuses owned by the City University of New York (CUNY) and to enforce state and city laws on and off campus grounds 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The CUNY Public Safety Department is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in New York City with 700 Officers. The CUNY Public Safety Department serves and protects more than 460,000 students throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York.



In 1990 under the order of then University Chancellor, W. Ann Reynolds, the CUNY Public Safety Department was formed after CUNY found a need to provide public safety services for its own community. The Public Safety force at each of the 19 CUNY campuses were headed by Directors. These Directors eventually were designated as Chiefs. As of September 2011, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has officially employed CUNY Public Safety Sergeants, phasing out the student-employed Public Safety Field Supervisor position. However, the campus reserves certain posts for students as a training tool, thus allowing students to be hired to provide security services until further notice. Although the Public Safety Sergeants hold "Peace Officer" status throughout the state of New York, the students are technically "College Assistant" employees and hold no peace officer status. The first officers to be brought on were sergeants who were primarily retired police and correctional officers from around New York City. These officers laid the groundwork for a department that would grow to 600 members strong. In 1991 the first patrol officers were added to the ranks. These new patrol officers and their sergeants were designated as Special Patrolmen and were sworn in by the New York City Police Commissioner. After a few years, the officers received recognition by the State of New York as peace officers and were then commissioned by the state. In time the ranks of Corporal, Lieutenant and Specialist were introduced. All of these ranks are based on the NYPD's ranking system; however, the rank of Corporal does not exist in the NYPD. The rank of Specialist is equivalent to that of an NYPD Detective-Specialist, working in a particular field/specialty, reporting directly to the Director of the campus that he or she works at. There are three types of Specialist: Crime Prevention and Investigations, Electronics Service, and Fire Safety. In recent years, the rank of Deputy Chief and Director has been added to the rank structure.


There are eight titles (referred to as ranks) in the City University of New York Public Safety Department:

Title Insignia Uniform Shirt Color
4 Gold Stars.svg
Deputy Chief
3 Gold Stars.svg
1 Gold Star.svg
NYPD Sergeant Stripes.svg
Dark Blue
Corporal 2.png
Dark Blue

Campus Peace Officer
Dark Blue


  • A deadly stampede during a 1991 celebrity basketball game at City College of New York organized by Sean "Puffy" Combs and rapper Heavy D sparked CUNY to upgrade its level of security on its campuses. The tragic incident at City College left 8 people dead and 29 injured.[1]
  • In the 1990s, CUNY suffered student take overs of its campuses during tuition hike protests. Students locked the University Administration out and were removed only after the NYPD was called in. These two incidents prompted the University to speed its development of an in house police force that it could use to enforce university policy as well as the laws of New York State.
  • On September 11, 2001, the city was the target of terrorist attacks. CUNY's Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) lost an academic building called Fiterman Hall due to the collapse of the World Trade Center. The City University of New York BMCC Campus is the only higher education institution to have been directly effected by the 9/11 attacks. During the rescue and recovery operation for the World Trade Center, the Port Authority Police Department set up headquarters at CUNY's BMCC campus. The CUNY Public Safety Special Response Team (formally called the SAFE Team) evacuated neighboring apartment complexes such as Independence Plaza and assisted in area access control.


The CUNY Public Safety S.A.F.E Unit patch

Currently, CUNY Public Safety has the following units:

  • Patrol Unit - Officers patrol on foot, on bicycles, and in marked police cars.[1]
  • Bicycle Unit - Part of the patrol unit, officers have to go through 5 day course to qualify for the unit.
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) - Many members of the department are state certified Emergency Medical Technicians. In addition to their law enforcement duties, these officers, as medical emergency specialists, must receive 140 hours (28 weeks) of state certified medical training with an additional 12-hour rotation in a hospital emergency room. The EMTs are equipped with an array of medical emergency equipment.
  • Canine Unit - Currently, canine units are only at three campuses. Officers assigned to these units must complete a 360 hour course according to New York State standards.
  • Special Response Unit - Formally called the S.A.F.E. Team, this unit is the university's emergency response team.

Future of the units

The restructuring of the S.A.F.E unit to be more reflective of other emergency response teams (e.g.: NYPD ESU, PAPD ESU) throughout the Greater New York City area is also under consideration.


The department's first public safety academy was housed at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. CUNY's current public safety academy is located at York College in Jamaica, Queens, however the academy will be moving to another location in Jamaica, Queens in order to expand.[2] The training course provides the state required hours of training needed to certify all officers as peace officers and other training relevant to university policing. This includes, but is not limited to; law, police science, powers of a peace officer, defensive tactics, community interaction, radio use, arrest procedures, and first aid/CPR. CUNY peace officers receive additional annual training on law enforcement topics and bi-annual emergency medical training. CUNY also trains NYC Health and Hospital Police officers and Brooklyn Public Library peace officers.[3] All agencies receive basic training, but the training courses also vary from agency to agency. The public safety academy may begin to train other law enforcement officers, such as New York City Deputy Sheriffs.

Equipment and vehicles

CUNY officers are equipped with an ASP baton, pepper spray, handcuffs, flashlight, bullet resistant vest, and a radio that is directly linked to a Central Dispatcher and to other officers. Some officers are also equipped with firearms. Officers that are equipped carry the Glock 19 9mm.

Although all CUNY officers are trained to use deadly physical force, only officers at certain post assignments carry a firearm due to the highly sensitive educational system. Historically, the university had anti-police sentiment. On most campuses, officers are unarmed. Officers assigned to the SAFE team, special details and high crime campuses carry firearms.

The department uses numerous vehicles including vans, bikes, scooters, and patrol cars.[4][5][6][7]

Power and authority

CUNY Campus Peace Officers are New York State Peace Officers authorized to make warrantless arrests and use physical and deadly force. Campus Peace Officers are also authorized to carry firearms with the approval of their college president. Colleges such as Lehman and Brooklyn College have armed their supervisors on a full time basis, in uniform and plainclothes. Several other campuses have officers that carry on special assignments and have at least one to two firearms on campus on a regular basis. In total, CUNY has approximately 100 armed officers, according to the NYPD Pistol License Division. Per the Criminal Procedure Law, CUNY Officers have Peace Officer Status and Powers through the entire state of New York, and may make arrests anywhere in the state both on and off duty. CPL § 2.10 "Persons designated as peace officers: Notwithstanding the provisions of any general, special or local law or charter to the contrary, only the following persons shall have the powers of, and shall be peace officers: "...campus peace officers-level I, level II and level III and campus public safety officers employed by the city university of New York..."

Relationship with the NYPD

The working relationship between the NYPD and the CUNY Public Safety Department is very good. Both departments have partnered up to combat crime in neighborhoods near campuses throughout the city.[citation needed]

See also

Portal icon New York portal
Portal icon Law enforcement/Law enforcement topics portal


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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