Since the arrival of the boat, the effects have been noticeable on all parts of campus life. One significant shift has been the relocation of Public Safety officers which has put a strain on PS, according to the new Director of Public Safety, Dave Zylak. With the addition of, in essence, a new section of campus, PS has a new area to cover which is spreading them thin.
Shortly after the students boarded the boat, PS added an extra post to the dock during the day, and soon thereafter established another shift from 7 PM to 7 AM physically on the boat. Thus, during the day one officer monitors the dock and in the evening, the extra officer is added for extra security. Zylak said the officers can switch positions if necessary, but they are confined to the boat and dock area throughout the night. Meanwhile, PS is still tasked with covering the rest of campus.
Zylak explained that with the boat, the strain is not more significant than it was when the students were in hotels off-campus. During that period, PS’s duty was to cover two of the hotels while the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office provided an officer to cover the remaining hotel.
Because there’s a limited number of officers to begin with, the extra area means that the PS officers are working overtime hours; whereas the night shift used to end at 11 PM and the day shift began at 7 AM, now the officers on night duty stay till 3 AM, at which point the officer on the day shift arrives. Because of this disruption to regular shift hours, there has been “more than a normal amount of overtime worked,” said Zylak, though the officers are getting paid time and a half for the overtime they work.
Zylak says that covering the boat has been pretty uneventful. “It’s been pretty calm down at the ship,” he said. Regardless, the officers won’t be sorry when the ship leaves and they’re allowed to return to their normal hours, Zylak said; “This whole ordeal has been a strain.”