The Concordia Security team continued to be a steady presence on campus throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping the university safe remained the team’s on-the-ground responsibility, no matter the number of other community members onsite. So the return to in-person learning in fall 2021 — and the gradual return of staff in the months that followed — was a welcome shift for Darren Dumoulin and his team.
“It was almost like seeing life returning to campus versus a few empty hallways and empty buildings,” says Dumoulin, interim director of Campus Security.
He notes that his agents were particularly pleased to be able to finally put their new preparations into practice in the field.
Dumoulin explains that the main priority for the unit this year was aligning its training and procedures with the recommendations made by the President’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism.
“We introduced new trainings to our personnel on de-escalation, implicit bias and racial profiling training, and piloted a new, online professional development training for the agents, shift supervisors and our dispatchers,” he says.
Dumoulin notes that he and his team are pleased to be preparing for a new initiative, the Campus Safety Advisory Group, which will begin in fall 2022. The advisory group will include representation from the Concordia Student Union, the Graduate Students’ Association, the Black Perspectives Office, the Gender Advocacy Centre, the Office of Indigenous Directions and others.
Of course, the pandemic persisted throughout the 2021-22 year, notably with the onset of the Omicron variant, leading to intermittent provincial closures throughout the winter.
“We filled the quiet periods by reviewing, adjusting and exercising our procedures to ensure that agents were prepared as more people began returning to campus,” Dumoulin says. “Through this process we also committed to ensure that professional development training would be an ongoing and continuous program moving forward.”
He adds that it quickly became apparent that dealing with the concerns, confusion and frustration with public health measures would be a large part of their new reality, an ongoing challenge for his team.
Greater labour shortages was the other main issue that continued to impact the work of Campus Security’s work. Dumoulin notes that the unit places emphasis on innovation, looking for ways to adapt to new situations and continue to provide services.
Dumoulin also points out that keeping Concordians safe involves engaging empathically with those who live throughout the Quartier Concordia area in downtown Montreal, including people experiencing homelessness. He expresses his pride in how much effort his agents put into looking out for these community members, especially in more dangerous times like under extreme heat and humidity warnings or periods of extreme cold.
He also shares that his team responded to a number of sensitive circumstances. “I think a lot of the work that the agents have been doing in the field has helped to secure the campus by building rapport and trust with vulnerable communities,” Dumoulin says.
“I am very proud of the security team who, despite the challenges during these unprecedented times, continued to serve our community professionally, with kindness and understanding, and who maintain their commitment to ensuring a safe campus for those who study, work, visit and live on our campuses.”
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