Campus Police changing the cultural climate

By Jim DeLa

At any campus event, you're likely to find Campus Police officers, like sergeants Marc Mayoral and Kelley Masten participating.
At any campus event, you’re likely to find Campus Police officers, like sergeants Marc Mayoral and Kelley Masten participating.

The Campus Police Department plays a unique role in campus life. They’re the people we depend on to keep us safe, for sure. But there’s a lot more to it, Chief Michael Kessie says.

“It’s more education than enforcement. It’s what we can do to help the community,” he explained. “We’re fostering a cultural climate.”

To that end, the department has partnered with campus groups and other local jurisdictions in a number of ways, such as installing automated external defibrillators in Ham Center and the Jane Bancroft Cook Library, as well as in every patrol car.

All campus police officers carry Naloxone, an opioid overdose drug, provided by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Department, and recently hosted a regional training to deal with the nationwide opioid crisis with members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DEA.

The department’s two mantras: “Safety and security,” Kessie said, stressing that training is constant. “We’re paid to respond in the critical hour. In that moment we have to be knowledgeable, capable and responsible.”

Campus police officers are also embracing their role as participating members of the New College community. “We’ve doubled the community engagement efforts,” said Capt. Kathleen Vacca. “We attend guest lectures, we show up to Feminist Friday events. We’re making a big effort to do things that foster trust and rapport, to diminish anxiety.”

Vacca said she was drawn to New College’s unique environment. “I’ve always found young people interesting,” she said. I grew up in the ’60s. I can relate to these intellectually curious students. They want to see change, paradigm shifts.

“There’s an opportunity to influence their perceptions,” she observed.

“Our goal is to get them from orientation to graduation,” Chief Kessie stressed. “It’s all about the students.”

Sgt. Kelley Masten agreed. “For me, meeting the first-years as they come in, and then watching them graduate — that’s the best thing. We’re here 24 hours a day. We like to get out and interact. We are people behind the badge,” she said.

The Campus Police Department provides a long list of services to the campus. Some of these services are listed below. You can see at all at

  • Safety Escorts — Don’t walk alone at night. Just pick up a blue emergency phone or call the Campus Police at 941-487-4210 and an officer will respond as soon as possible.
  • Laptop Registration — By registering your laptop and affixing a New College of Florida decal, the owner of the laptop is authorizing any officer to stop anyone possessing the laptop to confirm ownership or permission to possess should the officer suspect that the person with the laptop is not the owner.
  • Bike Registration — By registering your bicycle and affixing a New College of Florida decal to the bike, the owner of the bike is authorizing any officer to stop anyone operating the bike to confirm ownership or permission to possess should the officer suspect that the operator is not the owner.
  • Prescription Drug Take Back — A prescription drug disposal container is available for the community 24/7/365. In 2018, Campus Police collected 82 pounds of unwanted prescription medication for safe disposal.
  • Safe Exchange Zone for Online Transactions — Buy something on Craig’s List but need a safe place to pick it up? The lobby of the police building, at 501 College Drive, is available as a safe space for those wishing to complete online transactions.
  • Vehicle Jump Start assistance
  • Vehicle Lockout assistance
  • Notary Services — Free of charge by appointment only.
  • Fingerprinting Service — Fingerprinting services are offered to students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Free of charge by appointment only.
  • Lost and Found
  • Free Loaner Bicycle Locks — The New College Student Alliance has partnered with Campus Police to offer free loaner bike locks to currently enrolled students.
  • Lost Key Return Tags — A free service. If you ever lose your keys, the tag instructs anyone who finds them to send them to Campus Police office. From there, we will contact you and arrange the return of your keys.
  • Engraving — An engraving device is available at Campus Police free of charge.

— Jim DeLa is digital communications coordinator for New College of Florida

Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

Inquiries about this article can be made to 941-487-4157 or to email us.

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