Proration Cutbacks Find JSUPD
By Gracie Catchings
Reprinted from The Chanticleer
JACKSONVILLE -- March 1, 2001 -- Student safety and campus security are already taking a fall from the proration punch. With no money for training, travel and vehicle and equipment maintenance, the Jacksonville State University Police Department may turn to students to collect more money.
"It's already just getting down to the wire," said JSUPD Chief Nelson Coleman. "Basically, we have just enough money to buy small office supplies and gasoline for the vehicles. Anything else we need we have to go and kind of beg for."
JSUPD has no overtime money left for officers who work events such as sports games and concerts, Coleman said. In the past JSUPD hired Jacksonville Police Department officers to complement their force, and that money is gone as well.
In an effort to raise funds for the department, raising the fine for parking tickets and the price for decals was suggested, Coleman said. The fine for tickets would increase from $10 to $15, and the price for a decal would jump from $15 to $20.
"We're just thinking of reasonable ways to help raise money for the institution by bringing our fees to what other universities already charge," Coleman said.
JSUPD does not receive contributions from alumni and donors, Coleman said. Although JSUPD receives equipment through police-related grants, they receive nothing else above their budget from the University.
"Our department is just a little smaller than the Jacksonville City Police Department," Coleman said. "Their annual budget is two and a half times what our budget is. Our budget should be what their budget is."
There is also a shortage of student patrol officers who have to take over dispatcher duties, Coleman said. With no extra money in the budget, the dispatcher positions cannot be filled when someone resigns. Normally JSUPD has 10 patrol officers with two in the police academy. The remaining officers must work "seven days a week, around the clock," Coleman said. "We have the absolute bare minimum people to handle all the calls and duties that we do."
The shortage of personnel has caused some delay in answering calls, Coleman said. With events going on around campus such as the Calhoun County Basketball Tournament, there are not as many officers available to quickly respond to calls such as unlocking a student's car.
If the University continues to lose money, Coleman said, JSUPD personnel and services will be jeopardized.
"If an officer resigns," Coleman said, "there's no way to replace that officer. If we lose more people or have to cut people, we would have to start cutting services.
"If everybody else is like we are, we've already given up all the money we can with the first hit."
According to Coleman, JSUPD cannot make it to the end of the year on their remaining funds. There is less gas money than would normally be available at this time, and the aging patrol cars are getting harder to maintain. If another hit from proration strikes, Coleman said there would be no alternative but to lay off personnel.
"I don't know any other way to operate without adequate funds," Coleman said. "Proration is very devastating. Of all the years we've had proration, we've never caught up from those years, so our budget is way below what it should be."
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