By: Scott Nisley
As part of their strategic plan for the upcoming Fall semester, the Newark Division of Rutgers University’s Police Department, has put visibility up at the forefront of their ongoing mission to provide service to the campus community.
For the RUPD this means implementing more patrols on foot as well as the use of a variety of security vehicles, including bikes, T3’s and segues. They are also making a concentrated effort to inform new students of the many services they offer, including Informational and risk minimizing services like safety seminars.
“As you know, we have a whole new class coming in,” RUPD Chief Huertas said. So we need to orient—educate these individuals. Our staff on the ground needs to make sure that if we see somebody—if they look unsure as to where they’re going or what they’re doing, that we reach out and try to assist them as best we can. Anything we can do to ease their transition into the school and the Rutgers Community.”
Huertas says his role as chief is to command all aspects of the department, including operations, as well as overseeing administrative and budgetary components that play into the job.
“The role of the chief is to oversee this command,” Huertas said. “To ensure [that we’re] providing services to our campus community, to ensure that we are providing those services in a timely and professional manner—to make sure my people are doing their job.”
Most of the time RUPD’s collective team pulls their weight. But sometimes disciplinary procedures are required to keep wayward officers on track.
“Those people who are not doing a good job—we need to talk to them, train them, educate them, and if necessary we need to discipline them,” Huertas said. “We just dismissed a security officer for various reasons—for not doing their job.”
Huertas also explained the chain of command and the rank designations within the department.
“Below me there’s a captain, that commands administration and operations,” Huertas said. “We have four lieutenants that command operations. And then we have a lieutenant in change of the detective bureau. And than we have sergeants, that are in charge of squads or specialized functions. And then we have patrol officers.”
As a campus police department the RUPD operates much like any other law enforcement agency in a municipality. They have much of the same day-to-day challenges and responsibilities any other department has to deal with. They also work hand-in-hand with local and federal law enforcement, as well as the New Jersey State Police.
“There are a lot of facets to supervising an operation like this,” Huertas said. “We’re not a part time department. We are here 24/7. As such, we have directives, we have polices and procedures in place that guide us in terms of what we’re supposed to be doing. And guide us in terms of how we’re supposed to respond. Anything that we do will come under scrutiny, not only by my superiors, but by the Attorney General at the prosecutor’s office, because we are a full-fledged police department.”
Because of this distinction, the Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains, and Community Service Officers within the department are held to the same high standards expected in any local jurisdiction.
“Our officers are certified police officers throughout the state of New Jersey,” Huertas said. “They have the power to enforce criminal crimes throughout the state. Our officers can go from working here, to working in a municipality and there’s no change in their status. Their authority is the same.”
According to officials within the department, the experience officers draw from their training often leads them on to bigger and better things later in their careers.
“I have guys that come through this job and when they leave here they always do well,” Sargent Daryl Yelverton said. “They always go to other PD’s and do well. A lot of them go to Newark and they’re all like detectives, captains—people who have come through these ranks.”
Yelverton, aside from working as sergeant, also operates as a training coordinator within the department and has over two decades of police work under his belt. Even with all that experience, he says the job never loses its excitement.
“It’s not a cookie-cutter job—you never know what a day’s going to call for,” Yelverton said. “It’s a roller coaster ride.”