By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
As a veteran of the Bowling Green State University police force, new Chief Mike Campbell is confident the department is headed in the right direction.
Campbell has been with the force since April, 2011, when he was hired by then Chief Monica Moll as a patrol captain. When Moll left last fall to become director of public safety at Ohio State University, he was named interim chief and earlier this week hired as the permanent replacement.
In an interview, Thursday, Campbell said: “We are moving in a positive direction.” That includes being in the process of seeking accreditation.
Recently Campbell has been one of the campus officials called on to address how BGSU handles cases of sexual assault. The issue was pushed to the fore by a victim who complained on Facebook about how she was treated, prompting a protest late in the semester.
The complaints did not target the police, still Campbell said that it is always worthwhile to look at ways to improve police procedures.
The Task Force on Sexual Assault that was created by President Mary Ellen Mazey in the wake of the protest offers such an opportunity. “The major focus of the task force is to look at the process we have and evaluate what we’ve done,” Campbell said. This would include looking at “new and inventive ways” of handling sexual assault “as well as for prevention and education opportunities that can be focused on.”
This issue is just one of many where the university police must interact with the separate procedures regulating student conduct.
This could mean dual investigations into the same incident. “Our partnerships here at BGSU have been very strong,” Campbell said.
Campbell, 44, has made his career in higher education law enforcement.
He grew up in Bedford, Michigan, and was attracted to police work while in high school. He studied public safety at Adrian College and did an internship with the Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office.
After graduating he had several job opportunities and landed at the University of Toledo as a patrol officer. He did become a supervisor and stayed there until coming to BGSU. He also has a Master of Science in criminal justice from BGSU.
All police, regardless of the setting, share an overarching goal, he said. “We all have the same focus and drive as far as safety and security in our community.”
Most common offenses they deal with relate to alcohol, thefts, and minor drug charges.
The college community is different, both because so much of it is the same age, and that never changes. Also because of the diversity of the population. Students come to BGSU from across the country and around the world. Campbell said an officer never knows what a person’s previous interactions with police have been like.
“An international student may not be aware of what law enforcement looks like in the United States,” Campbell said. “We definitely work hard build those relationships.”
Students are here to earn a degree and graduate. “I’ve always looked at our department as another member of the support system that helps them achieve that goal. Paramount is safety and security, but it doesn’t stop there.”
Officers are assigned to different areas of the campus to work with different segment of the student population. They participate in a variety of student events and will attend to show their support. “I will tell you we do spend a lot of timing just building that relationship,” Campbell said.
“It’s important to put a face on this department,” he said. “Hopefully your only interaction with a police officer on campus is not when you’re accused of a crime or are a victim of a crime. We want to build that comfort before then.”