Erie Community College has hired a retired FBI investigator to head college security.
Jack McDonnell, who spent 24 years with the FBI office in Buffalo, this week started working in the new post -- director of college safety and security -- after the college's board of trustees approved the appointment last month.
In the job, he will oversee ECC's coordinator of public safety, who supervises nearly 80 full- and part-time security personnel.
ECC President Jack F. Quinn Jr. said he wants to improve safety measures, as colleges around the country have tried to do since last year's Virginia Tech shootings.
"When I talk to other presidents, the No. 1 discussion on campus is security," Quinn said. "How can you make us safer? How can you train staff better? We want to be tops in that."
Quinn turned to McDonnell, a longtime friend, to provide a set of "fresh eyes" and serve as part of the president's executive staff.
McDonnell will oversee security operations, develop a more comprehensive security and emergency plan for the three campuses and provide continued training for personnel, among other duties.
He will be paid $75,000 a year.
Quinn acknowledged these are tough fiscal times to be creating a new position, but he said there's nothing more important than the safety of students, faculty and staff.
"Mr. McDonnell brings a wealth of current, real-life experience to this job, and that will help update all areas of security for the college," Quinn said.
While with the FBI, McDonnell headed the gang and violent crimes squad in the Buffalo office and later its organized-crime and drug program. After his retirement in 1999, he was appointed a liaison officer to U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, serving as overseer of Laborers Local 210.
McDonnell also has worked as coordinator of security for special events, such as the Firestone PGA Tournament of Champions and the World University Games.
McDonnell said he wants to greater student involvement in safety issues.
"I intend to create the safest and most supportive learning environment possible," he said.