As we all know, the University of Maryland Baltimore County was established in 1966. All Universities of this size require some type of security force. Initially, there were five security officers, and the physical plant administration managed the police force. Four of these five officers were retired Baltimore City Police officers. They were responsible for the safety and security of the campus. This force grew, and some were armed. They gradually received more professional firearms and police training. In September of 1974, the Department of Public Safety was organized, and Robert Neilson was named as Director. The Department was called the “University of Maryland Department of Public Safety.” About this same time, the campus received some bomb threats, which disrupted exams.
In 1976, the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission recognized the Police Force and the State Delegation as a certified Police Agency. The enforcement power was granted through the Annotated Code of Maryland, and more education-specific laws were enforced through the Education Article. The officers wore uniforms that resembled those of the Maryland State Police. However, the Badge and patch bore the inscription, “University of Maryland Police.” In October of 1976 student, Cathy Hardy was arrested by officer Glen Johnson for failure to stop at two stop signs and driving without a license. Hardy then reportedly assaulted officer Johnson. Hardy, who was an African American, was the secretary to the Director of Student Activities. This arrest encouraged demonstrations among the campus but solidified the Department’s status as a Bona-fide Police Agency. In 1977, construction began on the new Police Headquarters located near where Erickson Hall now stands. At this time, staffing consisted of thirteen police officers, eight security officers, and 32 student marshals. The Director requested two more full-time police officers. In May of this same year, the Department hired its first female security officer.
The Baltimore County Police Department K-9 training center was located where the 909 Walker Avenue Apartments now stand. The UMBC Police Department became one of the first Universities in Maryland to have a trained K-9 team when Officer Lipka retired from the Baltimore City Police Department and came to work at UMBC. Officer Lipka and his German Shepard, “Rocky,” were highly visible everywhere on campus. Also, in 1983, the Department hired a Public information officer. By 1985 the Department had grown to Eighteen police personnel; five are African American males, and one is a white female. This was an example of the early stages of diversity within a growing department.
COMMUNITY POLICING 1986:
Throughout the 1980s, “Community Policing” became the preferred way to police a community. UMBC was no different. Officers were highly visible and would routinely walk foot patrols in the academic area. This made the students and staff feel secure and made the officers approachable to the community.
By 1990 the name of the Department had been changed to simply “The UMBC Police Department.” At this time, the Department consisted of twenty-two sworn police officers, four residence patrol officers; four police communications operators; one administrative Aide; and 28 police aides. This was a diverse force with retired officers, lateral transfers from other departments, and newly hired officers that had just been sent to the police academy. In 1998 police headquarters was moved from the old trailer to its current location atop the central plant near lot #8.
Over the past decade, the Department has made every effort to keep its officers equipped with state-of-the-art technology and training. In 2002, the Department transitioned from the old, Maryland State Police” style uniforms and vehicle colors to the new black and gray uniforms and patrol cars that you see on campus today. We have added a state-of-the-art CAD system that tracks reports and can be used to determine existing crime trends on campus. With the addition of a new dispatcher, sworn officers spend less time assigned to dispatch. Our “text alert” system is compatible with some of the best in the Nation. All patrol vehicles are equipped with Mobile Data Terminals. Officers are trained with and can use radar to cite speeders. Cars are now being equipped with ETIX. This allows the officers to scan the driver’s licenses and print citations. Officers have received additional training in Kav Magrav, asp baton, and the use of pepper spray as intermediate weapons. In 2013, the Department received Phase I of the new state-of-the-art radio communications system.
At this juncture, the Department’s primary focus is to receive Accreditation through CALEA.