Jul 282009
 
Authors: Madeline Novey

When Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt was announced as CSU’s new chief of police last Wednesday, those at the department who heard the news gave their new leader a round of applause.

“She’ll be a breath of fresh air,” said CSU Assistant Police Chief Frank Johnson. “She’s what the department and the university need at this time.”

Wanting to further improve students’ and faculty perception of law enforcement, Rich-Goldschmidt said she aims to strengthen ties between police and the university community under her administration.

And though she said it’s premature to lay out the specifics of her plan to improve community policing, limited by what she called the CSU “learning curve” — a lack of knowledge about CSU programs — Rich-Goldschmidt said the development process will start Aug. 17, the day she steps in as the first female head of the CSU Police Department.

CSUPD’s smaller scope as compared with the city police departments, Rich-Goldschmidt said, contributes nicely to amplifying police-community interaction.

“Community policing on a college campus is really what law enforcement is all about,” Rich-Goldschmidt said. She said the principle is all about police officers walking the campus and talking with students and faculty.

The perception of law enforcement in the community is not bad, she said, but rather people do not know how the police can help them in various situations.

“We want folks to call us and share things that are going on, even if they think it’s a little silly. Call anyway, we’d just as soon know what’s going on than not,” Rich-Goldschmidt said. “We’re not going to arrest you. That’s a pretty huge challenge at times, to educate the community on our role as a police agency.”

Drawing from her experience with more than a dozen educational, law enforcement and military boards and committees, Rich-Goldschmidt, the former University of Northern Colorado police chief of six years, said her ambitions will flower from active partnership between members of CSUPD and university administration, faculty and students.

Rich-Goldschmidt used UNC’s Police Residence Hall Liaison Program, in which a police officer is assigned to act as a liaison and safety resource between one residence hall and the police department, as an example of this partnership.

Acknowledging that CSU has a similar initiative currently implemented, Rich-Goldschmidt said she imagines an even closer bond formed between the individual officer and his assigned-residence hall faculty and tenants through social events and discussions to uncover the root of problems.

“That is the direction we’ve been headed in,” Johnson said. “When she comes in she’s going to have a strong influence on that. Community policing is what any campus department should be focused on.

“That’s where we’re heading already, but she’ll continue those steps to make sure we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.

Vice President of Student Affairs Blanche Hughes headed the national search committee that narrowed its list of candidates for chief from 60 to the final three early last month. It was announced last Wednesday that Rich-Goldschmidt knocked University of Alaska Anchorage Police Chief Joe Dale Pittman and Commander of the Northern Colorado Drug Task Force and former CSUPD officer Jerry Schiager out of the running for the job.

Rich-Goldschmidt will report to Senior Vice President for Administrative Services Tom Gorell and hold a leadership position on CSU’s Public Safety Team.

The PST reports to the university president and develops safety and disaster response programs for campus. During the spring semester, PST monitored the Swine Flu outbreak and coordinated with CSU’s Infectious Disease Annex and the Center for Disease Control to create a plan if the outbreak were to reach campus.

When the university first advertised the position this spring, the salary was listed as between $110,000 and $115,000. Rich-Goldschmidt, because of her extensive experience will receive $115,000 annually with standard university benefits and uniforms and weapons, issued to all CSUPD officers, Gorell said.

Beginning as a patrol officer at UNC in 1987, Rich-Goldschmidt had a background that included stints as a corrections and security guard in several locations after 1991 and work as an associate in the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention.

Her current and past community involvement includes but is not limited to: membership on the Weld County School District Six Career and Education Technical advisory council, the UNC ROTC advisory board, the Weld County Criminal Justice Advisory committee, the Colorado Sexual Assault Prevention Advisory committee and the Weld Women’s Fund board of directors.

Rich-Goldschmidt said she will rely on the totality of her experiences as CSUPD’s chief.

“Well, I think leadership becomes a culmination of all your life experiences; I don’t think there will be one defining nugget there,” she said.

When asked what losses UNCPD will incur upon Rich-Goldschmidt’s departure, Lt. Dennis Pumphrey said it will be difficult to find a replacement who has the same “historical investment” in the university and Greeley communities but that the department will move forward in her absence.

“You’re getting an absolute outstanding individual in your neck of the woods,” said Pumphrey, who met then-UNC Officer Rich-Goldschmidt 22 years ago when he worked as a residence assistant in the UNC residence halls. “The good news is that she’s not going too far … but really, you have an absolute outstanding chief headed your way.”

Her greatest strength, Pumphrey said, is her “in-depth understanding of the university system,” and her ability to bring groups with differing opinions together to collaborate and develop solutions.

The search for a new chief-of-police began shortly after former embattled Police Chief Dexter Yarbrough resigned in March amid allegations of sexual harassment and a highly publicized on-going personnel investigation.

His abrupt resignation came after instances of alleged impropriety. In taped recordings, Yarbrough, who served as an adjunct faculty member and taught a criminal investigations class, suggested to students that police officers should lie and in one lecture in spring 2008, advised his students to provide illicit drugs to informants as payment for information.

When asked to comment on Yarbrough’s resignation Rich-Goldschmidt said, “I’m really looking forward to working with the team and continuing the fine reputation that they have made, and I’m looking forward to moving ahead.”

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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