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From the Desk: University's new superintendent of public safety discusses priorities

Jan. 18, 2017

Returning to IU after nearly 22 years has been a dream come true. Leading the dedicated men and women who work in public safety at IU's eight campuses fulfills a lifelong professional goal.

I've been on the job for less than a month -- donning a much different uniform than in my cadet days -- but it's already clear that IU has a campus law enforcement agency that cares deeply for the educational enrichment of our students and for the safety of staff and visitors.

Benjamin Hunter

Benjamin Hunter | PHOTO COURTESY OF BUTLER UNIVERSITY

College campuses: A good place for community-oriented policing

As I begin my second chapter at IU, developing an IUPD engagement strategy is a top priority. Our communities expect -- and deserve -- more than a presence of qualified individuals to ensure their protection. Today’s modern law enforcement professional needs to show empathy and a deep-rooted compassion for those we serve.

Our team will begin to assess how we build off a solid foundation of engagement that already exists to further our customer service and community-oriented policing approach. I know we already are doing the work, but intensifying our commitment underscores our desire to embrace a paradigm shift in policing -- one that calls for shared legitimacy on how we police a community and disavows any notion that police should be an occupying force or the final authority.

In recent years, it’s no secret that the field of law enforcement has needed to change in many ways. It’s also unnoticed at times that campus law enforcement -- due to growing federal legislation -- has led the way in ensuring professional growth through expanded training amongst our rank and file.

Unlike many municipalities, most institutions of higher education have robust wrap-around services (medical and mental health clinics, for example) that professional campus police officers can turn to for assistance. This often ensures our students receive the best care and attention while pursuing their academics. IUPD will work in earnest to map out additional ways to partner with other campus offices to expand our role.

In my interview process and forum with officers, I spoke highly of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Transparency and accountability are major factors in building and solidifying the trust of our campus communities with the team I now lead. This will influence our work ahead, too.

Talk to us; join us

My commitment to the IU community is one of ensuring that IUPD celebrates the diversity of the populations we serve, strives for excellence through professional development, and works to have the most progressive and compassionate policies in place to ensure your safety. In return, I would ask that we hear from you. Be equally engaged and let us know how to foster new relationships with your organizations or simply reach out to tell us how we are doing.

If you’re a student, consider taking this engagement even further. IUPD is blessed to have housed amongst it a certified law enforcement academy. This provides a unique opportunity for students on all of our campuses to explore a career as a police officer. At the ground level, it also provides Indiana University the ability to diversify the ranks of police officers in Indiana. For our communities to be successful, we must have agencies that reflect our demographics. The IU Police Academy will be exploring new strategies to retain the best and brightest, while fostering critical diversity to answer the needs of everyone we serve. The deadline for applying to the Cadet Officer Program is Jan. 31.

I have dedicated much of my professional career to working in law enforcement. It has been rewarding and frustrating at times. There is currently a great deal of distrust across this nation regarding how we police in America. Despite some of that well placed public anxiety, it remains a noble calling to pursue servant leadership as a peace officer. There is also no better environment outside a college campus to be a police officer. It’s great to be back at home!

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