Temple's public safety director resigns amid spike in violence near campus, police staffing shortage

Temple University's director of public safety resigned Thursday amid a surge of violence near campus and a staffing shortage on the university's police force.

Director Charles Leone will officially step down on Apr. 29 after spending more than 40 years at Temple, the university confirmed. 

"It is bittersweet for me to leave now, but I know campus safety is in a much stronger position today, and this is the right time for me personally to step aside and enable a new leader to build the department’s strategy for the future," Leone said in a statement posted on Temple's website.

Deputy Director Denise Wilhelm will assume the role of interim executive director, the school said. Leone will stay at Temple until the end of April to assist with the onboarding of Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey as he undertakes a comprehensive review of public safety. 

Temple will begin a national search to identify a new executive director, Temple University Chief Operating Officer Ken Kaiser said.

The resignation comes days after Temple's police union reported that it's facing a staffing crisis that has impacted campus safety. University officials announced a number of safety enhancements in response to a spate of recent shootings. 

"For Temple’s part, we are considering all options to protect the safety of our students, faculty, staff and neighbors in North Philadelphia," Kaiser said. "We have to be willing to continually think outside the box, and that is what we have done here with this grant program."

In a statement posted to Temple's website, the university said the Temple Police Department will increase patrols. They've also started discussions about a neighborhood watch program. 

Landlords can apply for a $2,500 grant that can be used for installing either lighting and/or cameras to improve security. 

Temple University's police union this week said they are operating at 60% normal capacity and officers have had to work roughly 42 overtime shifts since last summer.

On Monday, the union said on its Facebook page that it "cannot perform adequate community policing techniques that we have done in the past to reduce crime in the community." 

In response, Temple University said 113 applicants are awaiting review for police academy training. Campus Safety Services hopes to place 12 potential officers into an upcoming police academy class. 

"Through the new officers that have been hired as well as the increased Philadelphia Police Department supplemental patrols, the university has more than doubled the number of officers actively patrolling the patrol zone at any given time," Temple said. 

This comes as the Philadelphia Police Department shared new information about a recent shooting on Temple's during which investigators believe a 15-year-old gunman opened fire on a car full of teenage girls. 

Temple said authorities responded to the shooting within 90 seconds of the shooting. 

"The increased campus safety presence is making a difference," Temple said.



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