Today is one of those days when what needs to happen is not what you would want to happen. In an effort to manage the museum as effectively as possible we’re making some difficult changes in our security department. We wanted to be as clear as possible about the reasons for these changes so we asked Katie Zarich, our Deputy Director of Public Affairs, to walk us through.
As we roll out a new security program, we say goodbye to 33 full-time and 23 part-time security officers whose positions have been eliminated. These individuals served with diligence and care, and they helped to keep our visitors and our artwork safe for years, and in some cases decades. Unfortunately, we were unable to meet the objectives of enhancing security at 100 Acres; responding to potentially serious incidents that arise on the IMA campus, and reducing the cost of the security program with the previous staffing model.
What is the new program?
The new model enables protection of visitors and artwork through its three distinct job functions: campus police officers; communications and monitoring specialists; and visitor assistants.
- A key component of the program is the campus police force made up of 14 officers. The officers, who are reserve officers of area police forces, are employees of the IMA, and they provide patrols of the campus as well as security to the museum. Their patrol cars and uniforms identify them as police officers, and their presence also will serve to deter crime. Should an incident that requires a police response occur at the IMA, we no longer need to call the police and wait for them to respond. Our campus police officers are able to take police reports and follow other police protocols.
- The communications and monitoring function uses an elaborate electronic surveillance system to monitor museum galleries and outdoor areas.
- The visitor assistants are trained ambassadors of the museum experience; they are posted throughout museum galleries and the rest of the campus. The visitor assistant staff, which is composed of students from a federally funded work study program at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), will provide enhanced customer service as they will be available to answer questions or assist visitors throughout the IMA’s 152 acres.
We also have added two Emergency Medical Technicians who are able to respond to medical needs that arise in 100 Acres or elsewhere on the campus.
Why did we implement a new security program?
- This summer we opened 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. The park has been filled with visitors since opening day, and it requires an ongoing security presence.
- The IMA has a reputation for being a safe place. Regrettably, we’d seen some incidents that could threaten that reputation. We’ve had numerous car break-ins, and we had been unable to curb that problem, despite increased security patrols.
- The security department makes up a large percentage of the IMA’s payroll, and in an effort to budget efficiently and effectively, we had to substantially reduce the cost of our security personnel budget.
This new model for the IMA’s security department was envisioned by Nick Cameron, the IMA’s Chief Operating Officer and was thoroughly vetted by IMA staff and public safety and security professionals. For several weeks, Martin Whitfield, the IMA’s Director of Security, has worked with a team to staff the new positions, and to ensure that all team members are properly trained.
As times have changed and our museum and its campus have grown, so too must our security measures. This new program is necessary in order to better protect the 152 acre campus. Implementing the new program was a process not undertaken lightly. We are sincerely grateful for the years of service that our security officers dedicated to the IMA, and we are providing outplacement services and other benefits to them.