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The new director of public safety at St. Mary’s College of Maryland says he wants to use his position and the officers who work under him to educate students about safety and security.

Sean Tallarico started Feb. 4 as the head of the college’s public safety department. He said he has 35 years of campus security experience, including most recently at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania.

Tallarico said he wants to create an environment where students and employees feel safe while learning, working and living in the college community.

“I believe and support 100 percent community policing,” he said, adding that he wants his officers to become a regular presence on campus, patrolling residence halls, academic buildings and other areas. He said they need to be a part of the campus community and involved in the educational process.

“I don’t want people to only see us when there’s a problem,” Tallarico said.

In the light of shooting incidents in recent years on and off school campuses, he said that the officers need to know the students and employees they are there to protect. He wants students and others to learn about security procedures, such as what it means to shelter-in-place in the event of an emergency.

“We’re the first responders,” he said.

Colleges are required to report the number of arrests made on campus as well as other violations. In 2011, the most recent data available, reportable offenses on the St. Mary’s College campus included one robbery, two burglaries, one aggravated assault, two arsons, three drug arrests and nine forcible sex offenses. The sex offenses included anonymous reports.

There were 128 incidents of alcohol violations and 73 drug violations on campus reported in 2011 to the college’s judiciary board.

Tallarico previously spent more than two decades heading Moravian College’s campus safety department in Bethlehem, Pa. He also served as president and board member of the Northeast Colleges and Universities Security Association.

“It is Sean’s demonstrated leadership and community policing approach to law enforcement that impressed the search committee and me,” Roberto “Bert” Ifill, interim dean of students and head of the search committee, said in a statement. “I believe that the college community will find Sean to be an energetic participant in the life of the college, eager to lead and to learn. We welcome him aboard.”

The college launched a nationwide search last semester for a new director after David Zylak, a former St. Mary’s County sheriff, was abruptly asked to resign last summer.

jyeatman@somdnews.com