Since moving to the United States from Puerto Rico at age seven, Pedro Pineiro, director of public safety at Queens College, has served in the army, interpreted for the National Security Agency, worked as a street cop and worked his way up in 33 years to Commander of Municipal security with the NYPD.
Upon retirement 11 years ago, Pineiro applied to fill the position of director of public safety at QC and has been here since.
Holding a bachelor’s in urban studies from Fordham University and a master’s in public administration from John Jay College, Pineiro attended night school while serving in the NYPD’s 40th and 42nd precincts in the Bronx during the day to support his family.
“I always wanted to get an education. I knew it was something I had to do,” Pineiro said.
Drafted into the army right after high school, Pineiro was stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland. Due to his Spanish reading and writing skills, he served as an interpreter for the NSA.
“If we would have gone to war with Cuba, I would have been sent to translate. Glad that never happened,” he said.
Pineiro takes his role and the system he has helped structure at QC very seriously.
“If you have rules, people have to follow them. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
Currently Pineiro oversees 40 campus peace officers and 55 contracted guards around campus. The peace officers are hired by CUNY and can make arrests. The contracted guards are hired by the college, are not allowed to make arrests and are supervised by the peace officers. Pineiro is looking to dramatically change the way public safety operates at QC by replacing all contracted guards with campus security hired through CUNY by January 2013.
“This will allow for us to better screen who work[s] on our campus as they will be hired by CUNY and will have to go through training. This will also allow those hired to rise up in ranks and take the peace officer exam to qualify and maybe even become sergeants or lieutenants in the future,” Pineiro said.
All peace officers are certified in CPR and are there to help in emergencies. Fire arms are not allowed on the QC campus, per a policy decided by Pineiro and QC President James Muyskens.
“I don’t see the need for fire arms on this campus. It’s a safe, peaceful place and I don’t want to see it any different,” Pineiro said. “We have a good relationship with the local 107 precinct, so if there is ever a need, we will have them to call on.”
Pineiro has tried to make the QC campus as safe and homely as possible. The new system in the library only allows for QC students to enter, something Pineiro says is crucial for QC students to have to call their ‘own.’ He has also encouraged a partnership with the NYPD to get students to label their bikes and laptops with barcodes in case they are lost or stolen.
“The problem with a safe campus is that people start to think they are too safe and they let their guard down,” Pineiro said referring to the increase in larceny around campus.
“Stealing is about opportunity and motivation. We can’t control the latter so we are trying to control the opportunity but we can’t do that if people don’t watch their valuables,” Pineiro said.