Timothy Malin has been appointed as the Columbia director of Morningside Operations after a 20-year career in the New York Police Department. This confirmation follows his retirement as deputy inspector of the 20th precinct, which serves the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Starting Feb. 24, Malin will take over daily administrative operations on the Morningside Heights campus, including responsibilities such as ensuring quality improvement and conducting investigations into reports of misconduct by security personnel. Previously, Jim Fey occupied the role for three years before departing in October 2019. Malin will report to the University Vice President for Public Safety James McShane, who has commended Malin’s career in the NYPD.
“He has done a great job for the NYPD and we know he’ll be a great part of our Public Safety team,” McShane said.
The University began the search for a director of Public Safety before the death of Barnard first-year Tessa Majors, which reinvigorated long-standing conversations about security on campus. Following the death of Majors, many criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tweet that announced the increased patrolling by the NYPD around Morningside Park, some even drawing parallels to the over-policing of black youth following the rape of the Central Park jogger in 1989, more commonly known as Central Park Five case.
In recent years, students have voiced concerns regarding both Columbia and Barnard’s Departments of Public Safety and their roles in bias-related events on campus. Tensions heightened following a number of recent incidents, such as the verbal harassment of mostly-black students with white supremacist rhetoric outside of Butler Library in December 2018 and the physical pinning of Alexander McNab, CC ’19, against a countertop in spring 2019 after failing to show his ID. The latter incident involved only Barnard Public Safety, which is a separate office from that of Columbia.
In light of these incidents, students drew parallels between the practices of Public Safety as resembling the contentious methods of the NYPD rather than being an intervening force during conflict.
During Malin’s tenure, the 20th precinct has seen some of the lowest arrest rates in Manhattan, as calculated by the number of court summons. Despite the relatively low police presence, “sentiment meters,” a new software that measures residents’ attitudes toward the police, show that the southern part of the precinct is believed to have one of the highest rates of distrust in New York.