Budget cuts could possibly affect University Police


Photo by: Jeffery Miller

Nicholls Police Officer White assists a student after an automobile accident.

The Nicholls Police Department is one of many departments that could suffer from the possible $600 million cut in the higher education budget, but Chief of Police Craig Jacuzzo said in the past few years, they have done more with less.

Nicholls Police Department is funded solely through the University’s budget, and has already endured a 26 percent budget cut. Jacuzzo said that to get through this, they have sought out grants from outside entities, been resourceful with supplies, creative in their techniques and aggressive with crime on campus.

“In the last eighty years, which have been the hardest years for our department with university funded things, it has probably been our most prosperous years,” said Jacuzzo.

In 2011, two of his officers were recognized with a Merit Award for Excellent Arrest and the General Commendation Award. That same year, Jacuzzo authored a law that made it mandatory for all registered sex offenders to register at college campus police departments. In 2012, Campus Safety, a trade publication for college administrators and security staff, recognized Jacuzzo as Director of the Year, and in 2013 Nicholls was recognized for the second year in a row in the top ten safest campuses in Louisiana.

As a university based department, Nicholls PD also deals with academic life that involve student events, parking and decals, medical and weather emergencies, opening buildings for students that are working late or turning on lights in softball fields for practice. All of this has been accomplished on a small budget with minimal staff while still keeping up with unfunded state mandates.

If the budget cut does effect the department, Jacuzzo said some of those things would either be cut back or managed differently, but the safety of the campus community will always be top a priority.

“We continue to do the most that we can,” said Jacuzzo, “that’s why we’re here, and that becomes a benefit to the University.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Eugene Dial said campus safety is just as important as academics, and when it comes to budget cuts, things in every department will be looked at for better efficiency.

“The first thing that we would do is determine what’s the minimum safety,” said Dial. “I can’t picture us ever saying ‘well, we know this is absolutely needed for the campus to be safe,’ and then cutting it. I think we would have to find a way to make that fit as part of the puzzle.”

Right now, students are enjoying the extra mile that the Nicholls PD goes to accommodate them and the overall safety of the campus in general.

Ben Galbraith, a psychology junior, said he has not had to call the police for anything so far, but his girlfriend had to have help unlocking her car, and that’s one of the reasons he was drawn to this university.

“I’ve always heard since before coming here that this is one of the safest campuses in the state,” said Galbraith, “and that the police were willing to help out with even the smallest of matters.”

“I see them around all the time,” said Ulysses Gisclair, a junior in public relations, “and I guess when you’re here and you’re safe, you don’t really see the need for them. On the other hand, I could see if they weren’t here and something did start to happen, I guess we would start missing them pretty quick.”

Jacuzzo said regardless of what may happen in the future with the impending budget cuts, his department will not work any less at keeping the campus as safe and friendly as it is today.

“The police department will do whatever is necessary to maintain the same levels of services and protections that we have always done in the past, present and in the future,” said Jacuzzo. “This is our commitment to our community.”