Jeffrey Van Slyke, director of the Department of Public Safety, is set to depart the university after two years at the helm of DPS. His position is being eliminated, and DPS will now be overseen directly by Vice President for University Safety Rocco DelMonaco.
The decision was announced to senior administrators on April 20 in a letter sent by Spiros Dimolitsas, senior vice president and chief administrative officer, and comes after a year of review of university safety, according to Dimolitsas.
“As a result of this review, we have decided to move strategic decisions relating to safety and security closer to the operational management of [DPS],” Dimolitsas said. “This will mean placing operational command of DPS directly under [DelMonaco], who will assume the management duties of the department.”
DelMonaco said that little will change in the daily operations of the department and no other positions are being eliminated.
“The university leadership just wants a closer relationship with DPS. I am moving my office to the rest of the department, but there will not be much change. We are trying to make the transition as seamless as possible,” DelMonaco said.
DPS officers were informed of the decision on April 19, according to a DPS officer who wished to remain anonymous. He said that his co-workers were shocked by the news.
“Everyone in DPS was surprised, we were unaware of the change ahead of time,” the DPS officer said.
Van Slyke will vacate his position immediately following commencement ceremonies. DelMonaco said that he did not know what Van Slyke’s plans were going forward, but confirmed that he will not be staying at Georgetown.
Van Slyke has been director of DPS since June 1, 2008. While DelMonaco said that the change is not a result of performance issues, Van Slyke’s tenure has seen a rise in assaults this past year, several bias-related incidents in fall 2009, a string of burglaries and multiple crimes some have attributed to the so-called “Georgetown Cuddler.” DelMonaco said that there has been an increase in violent crimes committed against people in all of D.C.
Upon taking office, Van Slyke sought to increase training for officers, collaborate more closely with the Metropolitan Police Department and institute bike patrols in efforts to improve campus safety. Property thefts have fallen this year, and DPS has established a better relationship with MPD, DelMonaco said. Additionally, officers now carry protective equipment, which they are trained four times a year to use; the official mandate is only once per year.
While there will be no immediate changes to DPS’s operations, DelMonaco aims to further improve the training of officers. In February, Allied International Union, which represents DPS, negotiated a new contract with the university that raises pay for DPS officers by $2.50 per hour. DelMonaco said that this new salary is attracting more qualified applicants. All officers have a high school diploma, but DPS is now seeing applicants with college degrees.
DPS Associate Director Joseph Smith, the official spokesperson for the department, declined to comment.”