More than four months after USM’s Chief of Police Lisa Beecher retired, the university is starting a search for her replacement.
But there are more changes coming to the USM Police Department than simply a new chief of police. The department changed its name to the Public Safety Department over the summer. Craig Hutchinson, chief student affairs officer, said the change is meant to show the campus community that police handle more than just basic law enforcement.
As it always has, the department offers a variety of services, such as walking students and staff to their cars at night, issuing public safety alerts, and overseeing parking and transportation. Hutchinson said he hopes the change will help students become more aware and more open to the services provided by the department. “They are here to enforce the safety of the campus, not just the law,” said Hutchinson.
The new chief of police, now to be known as the director of USM Public Safety, must show exceeding qualities in a number of different categories, said Hutchinson. He said they should be experienced in both law enforcement as well as security. They should also have good experience in emergency response and managing public parking.
On a personal level, the new director should have an excellent grasp on the supervision of the law and have “the ability to interact with a variety and diverse group of people,” said Hutchinson. They will manage different aspects of the department, such as emergency response and intercampus bus services, as well as increase the safety awareness and education of the campus community.
Beecher retired in April after 33 years in law enforcement due to problems with her eyesight, she said. She said she has fond memories of her time at USM. “I think that what I miss most are the people I encountered on a daily basis,” she said.
Beecher noted differences in a campus police department and a municipal department. “The fundamentals of law enforcement are the same,” she said, having served on the Portland police department for 21 years. “But the community is quite different. Campus people are there for a purpose.”
Beecher said she felt that the campus community shares a common goal — to learn and be successful in both their academic and social lives — which produces a sense of unity that other localities sometimes lack.
Depending on the individual experience of the candidates, the new director could earn anything between $60,000 and $100,000 a year, Hutchinson said. The university hopes to have the job posting available within the next two weeks. Lt. Ronald Saindon is currently serving as the interim director of Public Safety. He could not be reached for comment.