The enhanced security measures coming to the University of Manitoba
Security at the province’s largest university is undergoing a makeover.
The University of Manitoba will start deploying Institutional Safety Officers (ISOs) in the coming months.
“We do hope to have people on the ground in uniform before summer,” Gordon Perrier, U of M’s director of campus safety and security, told CTV News on Monday. “We entered into an examination phase with the province and we are in the final stages of hammering out a legal agreement to partake in the program.”
ISOs are licensed security guards who are permitted to carry handcuffs, batons, and aerosol weapons. They also have some powers of arrest.
“On campus, we respond to around 6,800 calls, and there’s a good portion of those calls that, before, would have been pure police events,” Perrier explained. “So this is really folding in as a community, assisting our police services, and having the ability to act under different pieces of legislation.”
The province amended The Police Services Act in October 2021 to allow post-secondary institutions and health-care facilities to establish ISO positions in order to address security concerns and improve overall safety.
Officers must complete an authorized training program in several areas including public safety, crime prevention, enforcement of provincial laws, and use of force.
Perrier added training also includes de-escalation, conflict management, and suicide prevention.
“We really wanted to make sure it was a fit for our community,” he said. “There’s thousands of people that visit the campus each day. We wanted to ensure that we assessed our current workplace security practices, see how this change would affect that, and if that safety umbrella would still be part of our philosophy moving forward.”
Perrier said security is just one aspect of ISO responsibilities.
“We want to have them be recognized and be able to be approached, asked questions, and really address safety overall for everyone on campus.”
He said Institutional Safety Officers will be more noticeable because of high-visibility uniforms and specially-marked vehicles.
He said the University of Manitoba is training existing security guards for the ISO program, and notes costs associated are relatively low – primarily related to uniforms and equipment.
“This is about really trying to increase safety for those people that work, learn, and visit campus.”
Meantime, a Shared Health spokesperson told CTV News that work to introduce Institutional Safety Officers at healthcare facilities is ongoing.
“As part of this work, we can confirm a member of our security staff received training from a third-party provider. This training will, amongst other things, help inform how we instruct ISOs in a hospital setting. Various other aspects relating to this new designation are in development,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
“Safety for patients and staff at all health-care facilities in Manitoba is of utmost importance and an ongoing area of focus for Shared Health as we work towards the establishment of a single security program for healthcare facilities in the province.”
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