As you go up the stairs in the Office of Public Safety and turn the corner, you are welcomed by an old rickety room with white drab walls, a New York Yankees doormat, and a sign above the window that says, “Bad Cop, No Donut.”
Keith Molinari sat behind his desk, covered with Disney characters and a snow globe featuring a photograph of his daughter, Ava. On April 7, 2014 Molinari left his job at SUNY Sullivan in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y.to step into a bigger pair of shoes as the director of Public Safety at Castleton.
“I still haven’t quite settled in as you can see … some days it feels like I’ve been here for three years and other days it feels like I just walked through the door,” Molinari said regarding the appearance of his slightly disheveled office.
Molinari said his first year here has been great, but he said he has had to face some difficult changes. The demographic was one of the biggest things that Molinari had to adjust to. As Assistant Director of Public Safety at SUNY Sullivan, he had the night shift and could come across problems ranging from boyfriend issues to common room stabbings and off-campus shootings, which occurred on his first day at the New York College. At Castleton, he has encountered less weighty problems, like a dorm couch being transferred across campus without being seen.
One early goal, Molinari said, was to address the issues of students and faculty parking around the loop, which prevented emergency vehicles from accessing the dorms and other facilities. Although this was not to the liking of numerous Castleton students, Molinari said that consistency is key and now a year later, the cars are gone.
To land the position of director of Public Safety, Molinari had to undergo a rigorous 10-hour interview with various college affiliates including Dean of Student Life Dennis Proulx.
“Ultimately his experience from SUNY Sullivan, the fact that he had successfully contributed to the success of a college-based department and could bring some new ideas to Castleton, may have been the tipping point for his hire,” said Proulx.
When he joined the force at Castleton, the relationship with the community was bruised and there were numerous aspects of the college that could be improved.
Castleton Chief of Police Peter Mantello said he has developed a strong working relationship with Molinari by focusing and communicating about students, events or any criminal activity that occurs on campus.
“Keith has become a good bridge for building relationships between the community and school. We have dialoged between public safety of the town and public safety of the college. The relationships we have formed with students have helped make improvements,” Mantello said.
Although Jess Cameron, a junior and work study Public Safety dispatcher at Castleton, did not work under the previous director, she has had a positive introduction to the office.
“The first year has gone really well working with Keith. I think he has done great things here with Public Safety and I know that he doesn’t delegate tasks specifically to me, but if I am in a bad mood he definitely goes out of his way to ask what is going on and be supportive. All around great guy,” Cameron said.
Kayla Wood, a sophomore and fellow dispatcher, agrees with Cameron stating that Molinari always takes time to ask how her day is going.
“He’s a pretty cool guy,” said Wood.
Although fall semester was off to a rough start because of disrespectful student behavior on the weekend, Molinari believes the college has bounced back and is hopeful for the future improvements overall.
Molinari plans to meet with every incoming freshman for the 2015 fall semester by taking their ID pictures at registration weekend. This will give him the opportunity to put a name to the face, tell them the expectations, and discuss how important the community relationship is to the college.
“Year two is when the campus will see the depth of Keith’s talent, as he champions new systems and leads his team,” said Proulx.