Open forum invites input on search for new chief of police

Callie Miller

In an open forum on Wednesday afternoon, the WKU Chief of Police search committee asked faculty and staff about the qualities they want to see in WKU’s next Chief of Police. Attendees voiced their wishes for someone who would be a part of the campus community and who would be able to relate to the different cultures at WKU.

Brian Kuster, vice president of academic affairs, said the search committee will take about a month to collect resumés from applicants so they can consider a diverse range of people.

“I think it’s more important to choose the right person than to be in a hurry to get a person,” he said.

In the forum, Bill Waltrip, a member of the search committee, started the meeting by posing a question to the floor: “What do you want to see in the new Chief of Police?”

Several attendees said they wanted a chief who would be involved in the campus community and aware of the campus environment, including acknowledging and respecting religious and cultural values and beliefs.

One participant said she wished to have a chief who would be not only aware of diversity, but be culturally competent and who would appreciate and recognize different world views.

Others said they wanted a police chief who acts transparently, makes safety a top priority, can be confident when making difficult decisions, has a willingness to share knowledge, can recruit officers and staff and can use the police department’s resources wisely.

A clear background, a strong work ethic, and the ability to be proactive with students, faculty, staff and parents were other qualities voiced in the discussion.

At the end of the meeting, Waltrip encouraged people to contact him via phone at 270-781-8238 or email at [email protected] with qualities they want to see in the next police chief.

Later this term, when the pool is narrowed to about three or four, the candidates will have the chance to come to campus for open forums in which students, faculty and staff can meet them and ask questions.

Kuster said his main focuses in the new chief are finding someone who will go out and interact with students and faculty on campus so they can build trust within the community. He wants to find someone who will be a strategic leader to the large police force and who can manage the budget successfully.

“They need to have those administrative skills, but also leadership skills, and can move the department forward,” he said.

The committee has not started looking at specific candidates yet, but they have had people reach out who are interested, Lynne Holland, a member of the search committee, said.

“In a perfect world, we would like to have someone in by the end of the academic term, but sometimes that can be challenging,” she said.

The search committee is hosting two more meetings to give students the opportunity to give their input on the attributes they want in the next police chief . They will be held Wednesday and Thursday from 3:30 to 4:30 in the Downing Student Union room 2001.

Reporter Callie Miller can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].