Campus, News

BUPD looks for new commissioner, hopes for faculty, student input

The Boston University Police Department is searching for a new executive director of public safety and chief of police following the retirement of Tom Robbins. PHOTO BY NATALIE CAROLL/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
The Boston University Police Department is searching for a new executive director of public safety and chief of police following the retirement of Tom Robbins. PHOTO BY NATALIE CAROLL/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Approximately one month after former Boston University Police Department Chief Tom Robbins stepped down, BU last week announced its process to select a new executive director of public safety and chief of police, in an letter from Vice President of Operations Gary Nicksa.

The searching process will involve students’ suggestions as well as the input of the Police Chief Search Committee, a committee that includes faculty and staff members from BU campuses. The university has also enlisted the Police Executive Research Forum to find potential candidates, Nicksa stated in the email.

Peter Fiedler, vice president for administrative services and the chair of the search committee, said the committee is looking for someone with extensive police command experience and an understanding of the unique characteristics of a university environment.

He or she must “have an understanding of interacting with students, how a university fits into a big urban setting like this and provide appropriate protection,” Fiedler said.

The search committee is currently waiting for PERF to vet out their applicants from an array including both national and international candidates, Fiedler said.

By late November, PERF will suggest between 12 and 15 applicants for the search committee to review, and the university will invite a number of those applicants to Boston for interviews, Fiedler said.

The committee then will select three to four candidates to interview with BU President Robert Brown, Provost Jean Morrison, Nicksa and Fiedler, he said.

Fiedler said the new hire will be in office no later than July 1, 2017.

“We’re really trying to do this on a very transparent and open process to make sure that we can find the very best candidate for Boston University,” Fiedler said.

In the meantime, Former Deputy Chief Scott Paré will fill in for Robbins as acting executive director of public safety and chief of police, Fiedler said. Paré is also applying for the position, Fiedler said.

Amy Shanler, a College of Communication professor, is a member of the committee. Shanler said she has experience working with the BUPD as the director of PRLab, BU’s student-run PR agency.

“The work that my students have done has afforded me to get a better understanding of the role that [BUPD] plays on campus, of the relationship that the officers have with students, with faculty and just all-around the breadth of presence that they have,” Shanler said.

BU Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore, also a member of the search committee, said students’ suggestions and feedback are important in the searching process.

“Students should give some thoughts on what they might be looking for,” Elmore said. “Those will be looked at. We will see if there is some trends that we should consider.”

Several students said that when it comes to BUPD commissioner, experience is one of the most important factors — Leanne Quinn, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said the new chief of police should be “someone who has had training … in what is appropriate for dealing with a college that is so diverse.”

Joshua Bassin, a freshman in the College of Engineering, said the next chief of police should have experience with monitoring drug usage.

“[The police chief] would need to be experienced in drug use and stuff like that, since I’m assuming that would be a fairly popular issue on a campus compared to other parts of the city,” Bassin said.

Sarah Crenella, a COM freshman, said she hopes the next chief will be able to galvanize the force to better monitor marijuana use on campus.

“It does smell really bad on West Campus a lot of the time, especially if you’re practicing on Nickerson [Field],” Crenella said. “Honestly for me, when I’m practicing for rugby, it’s a really big deterrent.”

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