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The University Police Department at Southeast Missouri State University developed basically the same way as many campus police departments. In 1965, an individual from the maintenance department was assigned as the first campus security officer. The officer worked 8 am. to 4 pm., Monday through Friday, and his primary duties were to control traffic and make money escorts to the bank. In addition, two people were hired by the maintenance department to act as night watchmen, check mechanical rooms for problems, and "shake" doors.
Six months later, another officer was employed to work from 5 pm. to 1 am. This person's duties were to lock buildings and patrol campus during the evening hours. In 1967, two more officers were added. One was assigned the 8 am. to 4 pm. shift, Monday through Friday, which provided the university with double coverage on the day shift. The other officer was assigned to work 10 pm. to 6 am., Monday through Friday. This provided the university with its first night shift officer.
In 1970, the fifth campus security officer was hired, which allowed the university to establish 24-hour coverage of the campus by starting a rotating shift system. With the five-person rotating shift system, one man was placed on the day shift to control traffic. Another person was also employed as a night watchman, bringing the total force to five deputized officers and two night watchmen. Another officer was hired in 1976 to bring the total force to six officers and a chief. In 1979, another officer was hired to work 8 pm. to 4 am. Tuesday through Saturday, providing double coverage during the hours when most problems occurred on campus. In 1980, two more officers were hired, bringing the force up to nine officers and a chief.
Until 1985, the officers were deputized by the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Dept. In April of that year, the Cape Girardeau Police Department gave police commissions to all the officers of the Department of Public Safety.
In 1986, the department bought two used, police packaged Dodge Diplomats from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. These vehicles were a vast improvement over the Cushmans and Ford Escort wagons that had been used for years. Since that time, the department has improved its vehicles by purchasing new, police packaged Ford Crown Victorias. These cars offer safety, dependability, and a professional appearance for the Officers and the Department.
In 1990, President Bush signed the Federal Crime Bill into law which allowed for, and mandated the professionalism, training and crime reporting of campus police agencies. This paved the way for the extensive training received by the officers of the Department of Public Safety.
In August of 1994, pursuant to Chapter 174 RSMO, officers of the Department of Public Safety were given state police commissions by the authority of Southeast Missouri State University. All Officers still maintain the Cape Girardeau City Police commissions.
As of 1998, there were 11 officers, 3 sergeants, and 2 administrators employed by the Department of Public Safety. The caliber of officers hired by the University Police Department ensures the continued professionalism of the department.