Former city of Findlay Police Chief will lead UF’s new campus police force
By Sarah Stubbs
William Spraw worked for the Findlay Police Department for 29 years, served as Chief of Police for four of those, and enjoyed a short retirement of seven years. Now he is back to work and starting down a new path: leading the hybrid security and police force at the University of Findlay.
Spraw was sworn in as UF’s first Police Chief on June 1.
After the University went through two cycles of interviews for police chief candidates, one in the fall of 2015 and one last spring, UF officials decided to make a direct hire over the summer so that the police force would become a reality this semester, according to Matthew Bruskotter, assistant dean of environment, safety, and security.
Since Spraw was hired over the summer, he didn’t have to go through an open forum interview process like the other candidates did during the academic year. Bruskotter explained that the University wanted the hiring process to be as open and public as possible, however, timeliness became a higher priority.
“Knowing we needed to have somebody in place before the fall, we talked with Dr. Fell and we talked with Bob Link with human resources and were told that since we’ve been through two swings of that very public process, if there was a viable candidate that we had identified that would be willing to take the position, we could talk about doing more of a direct hire,” Bruskotter said.
According to Bruskotter, President Fell approached Spraw about the position before the second set of interviews began in the spring. Spraw wasn’t sure if he was interested at the time, but came around at the beginning of summer, after having more time to think about the position.
“We had several meetings with him on campus. I met with him, Dave Emsweller met with him, Dr. Fell met with him, a couple of board members met with him, and everyone expressed a lot comfort with him,” Bruskotter said. “We would’ve liked to have done like we did with everybody else, but we were very comfortable with Bill.”
When Spraw was serving as Chief of Police for the Findlay Police Department, he had the chance to work hand-in-hand with Dave Emsweller, vice president of student affairs. Emsweller expressed that there was great communication between the University and the Findlay Police during that time.
Spraw wanted to stress to students that he’s aware of the differences between city and campus policing and the University will only be hiring on officers that also have a clear vision of campus policing.
Bruskotter said UF’s goal is to eventually have 10 sworn officers and eight security officers on staff – all of which would be full time positions.
Currently, there are three police officers sworn in alongside Spraw. All three officers already know a lot of the students, according to Spraw, because they were first security officers.
“It’s not going to be any adjustment with them. We aren’t going to come in here and arrest everybody. Not much is going to change in that way. We are still going to have the same attitude,” Spraw said.
Spraw described campus policing as a “kinder, gentler policing.”
According to Bruskotter, this is why Spraw was the right choice when it came down to a direct hire.
“He has an innate understanding of what’s going on and the type of police officers we need,” Bruskotter said.
In its current state, the new police and security force on campus is still very much in a transitional phase.
“Right now we are basically waiting for equipment. We’ve already submitted to the state that we are a police department and sometimes it take a little while for them to get back with you,” Spraw said.
Spraw said that uniforms have been ordered and they are expecting them to arrive soon. He also said that the University will be getting a cruiser within the next month.
In order to differentiate police officers from security officers, Spraw mentioned that the plan is to change the look of the security officers, too.
“We are probably going to go for all polos just so they don’t look like officers because they aren’t armed,” Spraw said.
Visibility is a main part of campus policing, according to Bruskotter and Spraw. Bruskotter said that when the police officers start patrolling, the department is going to make sure they are out and about on campus when there are class changes so that students can see them and interact with them.
With visibility comes communication.
Spraw is entertaining the idea of creating a Facebook page that students, students’ families, faculty, staff, could follow for information just like many communities are doing with their police departments.
Bruskotter also said that the department is thinking about hosting events on campus maybe during spirit week and possibly creating a weekly “coffee with a cop” event where students can drop by, have some coffee, and chat with Spraw, police officers, or security officers.
“As much as we can we are here to support students and be a part of the educational process,” Bruskotter said.