Public Safety Hires Female Duty Supervisor


Kathleen Meehan, who has 21 years of experience in the NYPD, is Fordham Lincoln Center’s first female security supervisor. (PHOTO BY YIPING HOLLY WANG /THE OBSERVER)

Contributing Writer

A previous point of contention for students in reporting incidents to the duty supervisors of Public Safety at Fordham Lincoln Center was that the department’s senior staff was entirely male. Recently, Security Supervisor Kathleen Meehan became Fordham Lincoln Center’s first female security supervisor and the Office of Public Safety hired Patricia Scaglione, a former Sergeant in the NYPD, as an investigator who splits her time between both Rose Hill and Lincoln Center. According to John Carroll, associate vice president of Public Safety, both Meehan and Scaglione will investigate serious incidents including sexual assaults and harassment at both the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

The Observer: Can you give us your NYPD background?

Kathleen Meehan: I was there for 21 years and I worked in many different boroughs. I started off as a patrol officer in Manhattan, I was promoted to sergeant while I was working in Upper Manhattan. I worked in Internal Affairs, which is where you are really doing work investigation reports of misconduct or corruption among police officers. I was promoted to lieutenant and worked in the detective borough where I supervised basically 250 uniformed cops in the precinct, because I worked under the captain who was the commanding officer. So I had a lot of daily responsibilities as Lt. Meehan.

O: Were you assigned to a specific department?

KM: When I was a detective, I worked for the chief of Bronx detectives, so I would compile statistics on his crimes and cases, which could be shootings, homicides – big cases for all of the Bronx.

O: What brought you to Fordham?

KM: I did spend time at Teachers College in Columbia before I came here. As to why I came to Fordham, I was drawn by its great reputation and I went to Catholic schools as a child, so there was that as well. I also knew that Fordham had a reputation for having a great public safety department.

O: What has the transition been like, going from the NYPD to college security?

KM: In the beginning it was a real adjustment, because in the police department everything happened at such a fast pace, you had to be ready to go at a minute’s notice. Universities are at a slower pace, but, granted, we have our days, too, don’t get me wrong.

O: What has it been like being a female working in a male-dominated field?

KM: I get along with everyone. My husband is also a police officer, so I got used to it over the years. I think when I was younger, when you’re just starting out, but as time goes on as you’re working with people and getting to know people, it just becomes a day to day experience.

O: Can you explain investigation responsibilities?

KM: Depending on the situation, I would look into further contact with a person who made a complaint, then interview any witnesses involved.

O: Given your role, what are your specific duties here?

KM: Our daily responsibilities include supervising the security officers. We assign them to their posts on campus and then we visit them throughout our tours [of the campus], and we patrol the campus ourselves and deal with daily operations and things that could come up.

O: What types of specific reports do you deal with?

KM: I’m trained to handle Title IX investigations. I’m trained to handle any type of investigation, even a burglary or missing property, specifically, though, if something does come in related to sexual assaults or Title IX, the director would assign me to handle that.

O: Biggest issues facing college campuses in terms of safety?

KM: Obviously a huge issue is sexual assault, which is a big focus. I think it’s about keeping people aware and educated, how to handle situations, not place themselves in any dangerous situations. So it’s about that and being available 24/7.

O: Why has so much discourse been focused on sexual assault in recent years?

KM: Perhaps in the past people were not trained properly in how to handle these investigations, maybe people were not interviewed correctly. I also think that people did not realize the seriousness of what was involved and it’s come to light in recent years.

O: At Fordham, sexual assault has been a big point of contention. How do you think Fordham has dealt with these issues, and do you have any ideas on how it could improve?

KM: I think that we’re improving everyday, we take training to assist us to be better investigators. By the director hiring more and more people with experience, that has also brought a lot [of improvement]. I think a big focus for me would be to let the students know who we are, maybe during orientation. And again, educating the students to know what resources are available.

O: What are your approaches in dealing with sexual assault cases?

KM: It’s important to remember what the victim or survivor has been through, give them time because it isn’t something that is quick. It can be difficult to talk about what happened so you have to listen. All of the supervisors here are trained to deal with this, but it depends on the person because some people prefer talking to females. It’s what the individual is comfortable with.

O: Fordham has had a lack of female security advisers. How does it feel that you’ve been given such a prominent role?

KM: First off, I’m very happy to be here. I don’t think it’s a lack of trying on Fordham’s part, but when a lot of female police officers retire, they are still young and they may have young children at home. A lot of them prefer to stay home and raise their families because they’ve already had their career. Also, I know quite a few girls who when they retire, they don’t want anything to do with law enforcement anymore, so some people I knew went on to become teachers, some nurses, I had another friend who became a social worker. All of these fields were related to law enforcement, but they wanted to branch out instead.