Experience creating educational police forces sets Amweg apart
By Clay Parlette
Rick Amweg, the second of three final candidates for UF’s new Chief of Police position was on campus on April 7 to tour and meet with staff and students. As was done with previous candidates for the position, an open forum was held to allow Amweg to outline his philosophy on policing in a campus environment. Students and staff in attendance also had the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the potential new chief.
At the forum, Amweg specifically addressed his view that college campuses require their own police, rather than relying solely on campus security and the Findlay Police for safety and crime prevention.
“The dynamic that is different is that, while the city has a job to do and a responsibility to provide public safety for its citizens, its job is not wholly providing public safety and police services to campus. Creating a [campus] police department brings better safety, better security, and certainly faster response during times of crisis,” Amweg said.
According to Amweg, campus police are unique in several ways. Specific benefits he outlined included: better enforcement of university policies, quicker response times, more accurate documentation of crimes and complaints, and knowledgeable compliance with complex university-specific laws like Title IX, the Clery Act, and FERPA.
“If you’re a campus police department, you’re trained in that and you understand there’s always probably a Clery component or a Title IX component or some other component to your job. Then you begin to live that, do that, and kind of eat, sleep, and breathe that every day,” Amweg said.
Addressing concerns that an additional layer of police would impede on the city’s ability to effectively enforce the law, Amweg asserted that a campus police department would not usurp the city’s authority. Rather, it would add to the overall safety and sense of security in the community.
“In this case, more is better,” he said. “The more policing you have, as long as it’s not the kind of policing that interferes with the operation of the campus, you’re creating a safer environment. High [police] visibility is an important thing for crime prevention. And so, if you have those uniformed officers in those uniformed cruisers that are out there, that’s going to potentially reduce crime,” Amweg said.
Amweg also discussed the value of a police force that is a part of the campus community.
“City police are not part of this community. They don’t work here, they are not paid by the institution. And so, they come in, they do their job, and they leave. What you’re looking for is a police department that is a part of the University of Findlay community. They’re not in the car waiting for the next call…they’re part of here, they’re walking the streets, they’re in the buildings, they’re saying ‘hi’ to people. The campus police need to know people and their faces and their names, unlike the city police could ever do,” Amweg said.
Emphasizing the importance of a community approach in police efforts, Amweg said there is more to policing than just responding to calls for help. He suggested that by having an active presence and full time officer involvement with campus activities, the value provided to the University will be much greater than the current system, and students will feel safer knowing there are officers on duty at all hours.
Addressing UF’s high enrollment of international students and other minority groups, Amweg expressed his desire to subject campus police officers to diversity and inclusion training to ensure strong community relations that he says are even more important on a college campus than a traditional police jurisdiction.
Amweg perceives active shooter incidents to be the biggest threat to campus security today.
While active shooter situations are in the news, Amweg sees detailed emergency plans as ineffective. He classified his planning as an “all hazards approach” to safety.
“The biggest threat isn’t necessarily a threat to the community, but a threat to the police agency who doesn’t properly prepare and train and exercise for those eventualities, whether it’s natural or manmade,” Amweg said. “The key is being prepared within your realm.”
Amweg has over 38 years of police experience, retiring in 2008 as assistant chief of police and director of public safety administration at The Ohio State University. He has taken particular interest in the educational component of policing, which is what he said drew him to the opportunity at UF. In his career, he has been part of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and most recently, he has held leadership with the Ohio Board of Regents, overseeing campus safety and security for the University System of Ohio, and assisting in the formation of two different university police departments.
The third candidate, Thomas Wiegan, had his open session on Monday afternoon earlier this week.
For questions regarding the search for a chief of police, please contact Matt Bruskotter at firstname.lastname@example.org.