Plattsburgh State has filled the position for Chief of University Police Department after former chief Jerry Lottie retired. After 32 years in law enforcement, Lottie passed the torch to Patrick Rascoe, a Plattsburgh native enthusiastic about serving the campus community through social justice and compassion.
“I hope I have left a legacy of integrating University Police into the educational environment where students, faculty, staff and administration all recognize UP’s unique role in supporting and facilitating learning and personal growth,” former chief Lottie said.
Rascoe states he believes an open, supportive and communicative relationship with those on campus helps to promote social justice.
“One of my pillars of social justice is the way we deal with the community that we serve,” Rascoe said.
Rascoe said he and his department will continue engaging individuals on campus with respect, legitimacy and transparency.
Good rapport with the PSUC student body is critical for authoritative organizations on campus after their responses to a racist social media post were scrutinized by many student activist groups and individuals in the spring of 2018, from which marches and protests stemmed.
“We are definitely working hard to get our policies and procedures in order,” Rascoe said.
Rascoe worked for the City of Plattsburgh’s police department for 21 years, 11 of which he served as Detective Lieutenant. He brought his years of experience to PSUC’s UPD in 2015 when he became the leader of their investigative division.
“The campus is kind of a microcosm of the greater area,” Rascoe said.
Through UP, Rascoe helped investigate reports of fraternity hazing on campus at the beginning of the last fall. He has also looked into cases of domestic abuse, sexual assault, larceny, computer crimes and stalking. Rascoe and the department wish to create an environment in which students can feel comfortable coming forward about these issues.
“Being a member of a university police department is kind of a two-pronged thing,” Rascoe said. “Not only do we have the law enforcement functions that every other police department has, we also have the educational component. Above all, this campus is an educational institution.”
Last spring the Student Association advocated for mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all PSUC administrative employees, as well as implicit bias training.
UP has implemented this training for all officers, according to Rascoe, which included a diversity-through-films course. A record management system which Rascoe states “has capabilities to measure how [we’re] treating unrecognized groups.” The Chief and Department Investigator, Seth Silver, can study this data and have hopes of applying it to further improve their training.
Current SA president Jessica Falace was among those who spoke out for more representation of groups and the accountability of campus administration.
“UP is a great resource for students and I do think they have been listening to student hopes and demands and have been making improvements,” Falace said.
Rascoe heads a department that has sworn to uphold the constitution.
“The First Amendment allows some really awful things,” Rascoe said. “[Our officers] still must uphold it.”
The new chief finds counterprotesting vital to our first amendment rights and recognizes the need to create a safe space for students, counterprotest and march for their convictions.
“There are alternatives to awful speech, and those alternatives are to flood it with speech that opposes hate,” Rascoe said. “These are all things that we can and should do.”
In the past, student groups have recognized UP’s efforts in inclusion and diversity. They received Ally Awards in 2017 from Black Onyx, the black student union, and RADIUS. Rascoe said he and the department feel very connected to student groups.
He also said the department is taking special consideration to campus safety, given the current climate of our world and the slew of school shootings to have taken place in just this past year.
“We have two officers who received their firearm certifications this summer,” Rascoe said. “I have another five officers who went down to advanced-level active shooter training in Oriskany, New York, this summer.”
Rascoe said the department’s stance on crisis situations is one of absolute preparedness.
“I think Chief Rascoe has so much drive and works incredibly hard on a daily basis to better our campus environment,” Falace said.
Rascoe has also helped to establish a Care Committee and Threat Assessment Committee in attempts to further student outreach as well as campus safety.
“My biggest hope is that UP, along with the rest of our campus, keeps moving forward with thoughts about social justice,” Falace said. “This is a continuous process. There is always more work to be done, but I believe we are off to a good start.”
The chief stressed the importance of the 16 members of PSUC’s UPD.
“This department is going to be great based on the employees that are in it,” Rascoe said.
Email Sage Lewandowski at firstname.lastname@example.org