Keene State College Director of Campus Safety and Compliance Christopher Buckley said that despite unprecedented times, the force’s main priority remains the safety of the community.
As students have been returning to campus for the fall semester, campus safety has taken on increased responsibility regarding safety and COVID-19 testing on campus. Buckley said that Campus Safety was involved in the planning for pre-arrival testing and planning for the re-opening of the college. Since the start of the semester, Campus Safety was also involved in setting up the mass testing site in the Spaulding Gymnasium for weekly universal testing.
“We’ve always played an integral role in the safety of the community,” Buckley said. “Campus Safety is rising to meet the challenge, as are the folks across campus.”
Keene State College President Melinda Treadwell said she was pleased with the work Campus Safety has done. “Campus Safety deserves tremendous credit for their hard work,” Treadwell said. “Director Buckley has been remarkable.”
Treadwell added that Buckley, who started his job as director on July 20 of this year, has done well setting up a working relationship with Stewart’s Ambulance who have been helping out with universal testing on campus. According to Treadwell, Campus Safety cruisers have even been outfitted for emergency transportation. Part of the reason for Campus Safety’s success this semester is due to student compliance regarding COVID-19 guidelines.
“Students have been really respectful and have allowed Campus Safety to focus on logistics,” Treadwell said.
Treadwell added that Campus Safety was understaffed prior to Buckley’s hiring. According to Treadwell, the force has been down two officers since last winter, adding that they weren’t casualties of restructuring during the pandemic, but instead the two officers were “simple losses.” She also said that a decision was made to hold rehiring until the position for director was filled.
Campus Safety has since recovered. According to Buckley, he has 10 full-time officers and three part-time officers with another currently doing field training and an additional officer expected to start on September 21. Buckley added that Campus Safety is currently interviewing potential officers the week of Monday, September 7.
“We’re always continuing to build the team,” Buckley said. “We have good staff here, experienced people. We have the right people on the right jobs which are moving us fluidly. Campus Safety is a resource to all students, staff, faculty and the community. We’re all part of Owls United and we are all in this together.”
Department Chair for the Safety and Occupational Health Applied Sciences Dr. Wayne Hartz, who has worked with Buckley during the planning of COVID-19 testing as well as having helped Buckley at the testing site as well said the work from Buckley and Campus Safety has been exemplary. “Campus Safety is working overtime,” Hartz said. “People are working many hours to keep the campus safe and Chris Buckley has brought a level of professionalism that I think has been missing for 20 years. He’s looking after the students like his own kids.
Students on campus who feel sick or concerned can call Campus Safety who will then contact the college’s COVID-19 rapid response team. According to Buckley, if the rapid response team is unable to locate a student, Campus Safety would help out. Assistant Professor of Nursing and Coordinator of the Rapid Response Team Kirk Sanger said the team has been working very closely with Campus Safety.
“Campus Safety has been very cooperative and efficient,” Sanger said. “There is always someone at dispatch and always someone available.”
According to Buckley, he thinks the college has a very strong plan regarding the virus , with “smart people in leadership positions,” but “the only thing the college doesn’t have control over is students.”
“I am confident that if students and staff follow the Community Commitment Agreement then the likeness of success is high,” Buckley said. “If people don’t follow it then we’ll probably go remote again, but we don’t want that.”
Hunter Oberst can be contacted at