Outreach key to security office's main service goals

by Hilary Thomson
Staff writer

Two years ago he was a long-haired biker look-alike working undercover in Vancouver's drug scene.

Today, as the new assistant director of UBC Campus Security, Mike Sheard is more interested in community policing than busting dope dealers.

"Our goal is meeting the needs of the members of this community," says Sheard, who joined the department in December.

"It's a service we're selling here and we're open for business."

Sheard comes to the job with a wide range of skills including problem-oriented policing, crime prevention through environmental design, and more than 20 years of service as a police officer.

He has worked as a child abuse investigator, a First Nations and East Indian liaison officer, a crime prevention consultant and an instructor.

His task is to direct UBC's team of 40 security officers in policing the campus community of some 50,000 students, staff and faculty, working and living in almost 500 buildings.

UBC's ratio of officers to the community is about standard for policing in Canada, says Sheard.

"We have a tremendous amount of expertise to bring to this community," he says. "Our officers know this place like the back of their hand."

Community outreach is key to Sheard's service goals. Campus Security will work with the local detachment of the RCMP in delivering safety programs, such as bicycle safety sessions at University Hill School.

Department members currently participate in community crime prevention workshops at UBC on topics such as violence in the workplace, crisis intervention and robbery prevention.

Sheard also has plans to develop a course on defense against rape and aggressive behaviour.

"These days personal safety is the public's biggest policing concern," he says. "We want to heighten our visibility and communication to let people know we are concerned and actively looking out for them."

Addressing a departmental staff survey on UBC's policing needs was one of Sheard's first tasks. Topping the list was more training for Campus Security officers. The entire department will be attending two weeks of advanced training at the Justice Institute of B.C., the training centre for the province's emergency personnel.

Sheard is eager to develop the department's systems for analysing data related to security incidents.

"If we study how, when and why crimes occur we can determine risk and put together prevention strategies," he says.

Sheard also aims to build the department's expertise in crime prevention through environmental design, which analyses building design, lighting and landscaping to reduce opportunities for crime.

These initiatives expand Campus Security's core activities of patrolling and responding to calls.

Last year, officers answered more than 9,000 calls for security service.