New Director of Campus Safety Brings Positive Outlook

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Former Police Captain Jeffrey Schneider is optimistic about his future at Pierce.

Nick Nelson/Staff Photo
The new Campus Safety Director, Jeff Schneider, who started his job in April.

There are many people working behind the scenes at a college who students might never see, including Jeffrey Schneider, the new director of campus safety and district director of safety and security.

Before coming to Pierce, Schneider had a long career in law enforcement and security.  At age 21, he started his law enforcement career at Central Washington University (CWU), which has a more traditional police force, unlike Pierce’s non-commissioned security force.

He worked at CWU for a few years before moving up the road to the Yakima Police Department in 1984, where he worked his way up from beat cop to captain in just 13 years. He served as captain for more than 20 years, with the last few as captain of YPD’s detective unit, serving for a combined total of 33 years.

In March, he retired from the Yakima PD, and was hired on as Pierce’s director of campus safety following the departure of Chris MacKersie.

Schneider said that one difference between a traditional police force at a university and campus security at a community college is that campus security can’t make arrests and aren’t armed. According to Schneider, the biggest focus of a campus security officer is providing services to the college community: unlocking doors, jumpstarting cars, and escorting students who feel unsafe for any reason.

“They’re a lot more proactive about providing service here than a police department ever was,” Schneider said. “With a police department you have to be in trouble first before you can get them to help you. Here, you just need to have a question.”

Regarding his approach to campus safety, Schneider looks to the college’s primary mission: education.

“It’s all about education,” he said. “How does the safety department fit in? Most people would say it’s completely unrelated, but I believe that’s not the case. You need to have a safe and secure campus so that students here don’t have to worry about things.”

Schneider reflected on some of the broader issues facing campuses across the country, particularly in the wake of school shootings. He stated his belief that armed security on a campus does not prevent shootings, such was the case with Parkland and Columbine. In his opinion, what makes the biggest impact regarding safety is interaction with students and faculty.

“The students, the faculty here, all know what’s going on,” Schneider said. “You may know about a person who is having issues, or had issues, or maybe you just feel uncomfortable. It’s important that you reach out to the officers or staff here. There’s a number of resources.”

While Schneider believes that overall Pierce is a safe campus, he did emphasize the importance of personal safety and responsibility. Campus safety can’t be watching over students and faculty at all times, and disregard for personal safety and belongings can lead to theft and other crimes.

“We do what we can to keep people safe, but people are always are a part of that process,” Schneider said. “Whether it be on campus, at home, at work, you have some responsibility for your personal safety. Just like you don’t drive through the worst neighborhood in town.”

Schneider encouraged students to always reach out to campus safety officers if they have any needs: “Feel free at any time to talk to any officers,” he said. “They’re more than happy to talk to the students if you have concerns, issues or even just to talk and shoot the breeze. We can learn a lot just shooting the breeze.”

Regarding Schneider, Robert Rockey, campus safety officer, said that he interacts with him on an almost daily basis. “I like him, and I trust his experience,” Rockey said.

He added that he believed Schneider will bring positive changes to campus security, but could not speak about specifics. His colleagues at the Campus Safety Desk echoed his sentiment, stating that Schneider seemed pleasant and easy to work with.