Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Letter to the Editor: Suffolk University Police union demands change

Letter to the Editor: Suffolk University Police union demands change

To all faculty, staff, students and parents,

My name is Perry Sarakiniotis and I am the union president of the Suffolk University Police Association ACOPS Local 7, representing the members of the Suffolk University Police and Security Department. Our union represents our police officers, dispatchers and security officers.

Our department is made up of three divisions: the police division, the dispatch division and the security division. Each department is unique, and all help protect and serve the Suffolk University community in their own ways.

Our police division provides law enforcement services to our community 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round. We take an average of 650 police reports a year. Our dispatchers are the lifeline of our department and handle all communications, both emergency and non-emergency, through our dispatch call center. Our security division is made up of security officers who maintain a fixed post and provide access control to all campus buildings.

Over the last decade, our department has been in serious decline due to our past and current police and university managers. Our department was once seen as a necessity and priority for the safety and well-being of our students. However, over the years it has become evident to us that the chiefs, as well as the university managers, have not treated our important mission of providing safety to all campus students and other stakeholders as a high priority

They began cutting our budget year after year, which led to significant staffing shortages, unreasonable demands for excessive overtime obligations and a dysfunctional work environment.  This has made the Suffolk University Police Department an unappealing and unpleasant place for current and new employees to work. 

Our turnover rate is extremely high, as new employees quit shortly after being hired. Our police division has been cut in half due to officers leaving for higher pay and better working conditions. Our police division went from having 22 full-time police officers to nine full-time officers. We have lost over 10 young officers in the past five years and still have not replaced them. Our managers want to take our open police vacancies and turn them into security vacancies, thus eliminating the ability for us to hire more police officers. 

Our security division sees new hires on a weekly basis, who then quit weeks later due to unreasonably demanding and exhausting working conditions. Our dispatch division also cannot hire and retain individuals. Now, police and university managers want to get rid of our few remaining full-time dispatcher positions, who have decades of experience as 911 call takers for both towns and universities, and replace them with  “hybrid” positions by making our security guards work part time in security and part time in dispatch. 

This is a bad idea for the university and for the security, policing and dispatch function. Since the university cannot staff enough police officers, security guards or dispatchers as is, it is ridiculous for them to believe that taking the current employees and giving them more responsibilities  than the excessive workloads they already have, is a good idea.  

This hybrid plan is predictably bound to fail. More security guards will quit and fewer will be hired, leaving both security and dispatch further understaffed.

Because of our inability to retain or hire individuals, our police officers, dispatchers and security officers are forced to work 16-hour days to make up for low staffing. As a full-service police department, we must be staffed 24/7, so our current staff is forced to work these grueling hours almost daily. 

Our union has tried to bargain with the university to solve our hiring problem. Instead, the university and our chief refuse the logical solutions, and instead intimidate our members into regularly working 16-hour days. This flawed strategy has failed yet continues with no end in sight. 

In comparison to other Boston-area colleges, our members are among the lowest paid. Our pay is not closely comparable to other campus police departments of our size within Boston and neighboring communities. We have not received pay raises in comparison to other campus police departments in the last 10 years. With inflation and living costs at the rates they are, our members are struggling to survive. 

Our union has been in contract negotiations for over 11/2 years now with no progress. We are fighting for better working conditions and higher pay. Our chief and university clearly understand the problem but refuse to bargain a rational solution with us. 

The Suffolk University Police Department is in crisis and as things stand right now, we are worried this department will soon collapse. Our members are dedicated professionals, some of whom have served Suffolk for 20+ years and take pride in protecting and serving our students and staff. We will not stop fighting to keep our Suffolk community safe. We ask that our students, parents and staff stand by us and join us in this fight. 

We encourage you all to voice your concerns to our chief of police and university officials. Your voice matters!

Contact the SUPD Chief and university officials

President Perry Sarakiniotis

Vice President Jennifer Berger

Secretary Abdirahman Hassan 

Security Rep. Avith Ernest

Treasurer James DiGianvittorio 

Suffolk University Police Association ACOPS Local 7

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