Safe at School

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security officer david beckford has monitored the comings and goings of students and faculty at fordham university in the bronx since 1992. that's when the jesuit university signed a contract with his company, summit security.

"on a daily basis, i make sure that only the right people enter the school," beckford said. "my primary duty is monitoring access and egress to the campus."

beckford notes with pride that the fordham campus has consistently been rated as one of the most secure college campuses in the country. campus security is more important today than ever, especially in light of some recent high-profile crimes at schools like yale and virginia tech.

security has to be "on alert" at all times, he added, especially given that the surrounding south bronx neighborhood has traditionally had higher crime rates. despite these challenges, he says that his work continues to be personally rewarding.

"as security officers, we work with students and faculty members all the time. our primary concern is to ensure the safety of everyone on campus," he said.

beckford, 65, immigrated to the united states in 1990. although now divorced, he has three grown daughters, two granddaughters and one grandson. a former resident of nearby mount vernon, he currently resides in the bronx, only 15 minutes from the fordham campus.

growing up, beckford lived in st. elizabeth, one of the largest parishes in jamaica. he's no stranger to law enforcement and security work-from 1967 to 1974, he was a police officer in jamaica's special constabulary force. he also taught adult literacy as an adult literacy officer before taking a job as a parish councilman, an elected office in jamaica. union official johnnie patterson called beckford a, "natural leader and true professional." patterson, an assistant district leader in seiu 32bj's commercial division, said that beckford was instrumental in helping to organize his fellow security officers into 32bj seiu from their former union, allied international.

"we weren't being treated right by allied," said beckford, who's been a shop steward since 1993, a role in which he acts as a union liaison for members. "by switching unions," he said, "we gained a substantial salary increase and also superior health coverage for all."

patterson said that beckford was one of the first people to step forward when fordham's security officers were being organized by 32bj, the largest property service workers union in the country that represents not only security officers, but doormen, porters and scores of other maintenance workers. it was a courageous move, but in the end, fordham's security officers went from making $10.25 an hour to more than $13 an hour.

"david recognized that someone had to step-up and he did just that," patterson said. "he's a great guy."

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