Police chief candidate focuses on visibility

Hect would bring active shooter expertise to campus

By Sarah Stubbs

After the fall semester’s interview processes for a University of Findlay police chief were unsuccessful, the search has started back up again and UF has interviewed two of three new candidates.

The police chief would head up the hybrid security office and police department project that was announced in November 2014. Once a chief is selected, the department will begin forming.

Daniel Hect, an officer with more than 27 years of experience in policing higher education, interviewed with UF officials on March 31. There was an open session, as there were with the candidates in the fall and the two additional candidates who have interviewed and will interview on April 7 and April 11, where students, faculty, and staff could listen to Hect’s policing philosophy and ask questions.

Hect has law enforcement experience at Riverside Community College in California, the University of Southern California – where he worked for 26 years – and Dennison University in Granville, Ohio.

Hect is currently the director and chief of campus safety at Dennison and has been for the past 18 months.

According to Hect, legacy has a lot to do with his attraction to UF’s police chief position.

“The potential of starting an educational law enforcement/police department — founding that police department, shaping the face of it, and making a model police agency for other educational law enforcement departments,” Hect said.

Hect’s policing philosophy is focused on highly visible, community-based policing.

According to Hect, the reputation of a good police department is not reflective how many arrests are made, but it is reflective of a low crime rate.

“We are never going to arrest our way into a safer society. It just doesn’t work. We have a prison population higher than any other place in the world and it hasn’t gotten any safer. What we can do is communicate, educate,” Hect said.

Hect added that a low crime rate does not mean that there is crime going unreported. Prevention programs and high visibility, according to Hect, often creates a community that reports crimes better.

Visibility is how Hect says he will establish good rapport with UF students. He says he will achieve this, and has achieved this by “literally walking around campus and saying ‘hi’.”

Sarah Rhoad, a fifth year occupational therapy major, attended the open session and said that rapport and relationships are the most important factors in selecting the right chief for UF.

“It’s important for our police chief to be personable.  A chief can have all of the ideas in the world but will not successfully implement a police department at UF if he or she isn’t able to build rapport with our faculty, staff, and students,” Rhoad said. “Relationships build trust and a safe community.”

Hect said that he keeps an open-door policy so that he can remain as accessible as possible to students, faculty, and staff. He has created programs such as “Coffee with the Chief” to open lines of communication with students in his prior jobs and he also said that he would highly consider living on campus or close to campus if he was offered the position at UF.

Hect said that he would also practice visibility through the use of student officers.

Student officers might be working under a work study program and would have responsibilities such as clerical work, handling escorts on campus, or simply walking around campus and radioing in any activity of concern.

“By having those student officers, we can start bridging that gap between the community that doesn’t trust us or has some kind of conflict with coming to law enforcement,” Hect said.

To Hect, higher visibility means more immediate access to resources.

He said that this program has worked especially well in his experience. At one time, a campus Starbucks at USC was being robbed with an AK-47 and a student officer was able to see it happen and call it in immediately.

Although Hect spoke mostly about his general policing philosophy, he also informed attendees that his area of expertise and scholarship is in active shooter situations.

Hect is writing his dissertation on active shooter response procedures on college campuses, has been published in this topic, and has also presented at a couple conferences.

Hect said that since UF’s campus is so small, any active shooter threats should be addressed immediately – within a couple of minutes.

“Every minute in an active shooter situation, four people are killed or injured. The longer it takes for an officer to get there, the higher the body count gets,” Hect said.

Proper training and education on campus in active shooter situations would be a priority to Hect should he be offered the positon.

Hect said that instead of simply putting out videos about what to do in these situations, he would be interested in having meetings with students and running through scenarios.

“Doing solid work in education and solid work in training is important. Having students understand the risk of active shooter and having a program in place is key,” Hect said.

When it comes to responsibility and respectability, Hect says that UF is already strong.

“A lot of that is already done. What I’m going to do is just add program to it, structure,” Hect said.

At the time of publication, the second candidate will have completed his open session on April 7. The third candidate will have an open session Monday, April 11 at 3:30 p.m. in Winebrenner 250.

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