Friday, May 24, 2019

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Andrew Powers OUPD

OUPD Chief Andrew Powers

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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OUPD Chief Andrew Powers shares department's goals, programs and initiatives

With the start of the 2016-17 academic year, Ohio University Police Chief Andrew Powers took a few moments to share his thoughts on some important topics:

  1. What made you enter law enforcement?

I enjoy working with people and in particular, helping people. I became an emergency medical technician my first year at college and that led to a job as a dispatcher. That, in turn, led me to become a police officer.

  1. How long have you been OUPD chief?

I will begin my ninth year as chief at OUPD in January.

  1. What are the department’s primary goals this year?

Community relations remain a high priority for us, particularly outreach to those in our community who may feel marginalized or underserved by the police. Internally, we are also enhancing our policies and procedures, as well as working with our regional and extension sites to standardize basic emergency procedures across the entire institution.

  1. What are the biggest challenges to your department this year?

Just as community relations is a primary focus of our goals for this year, so is it an area of challenge. Police agencies across the country are working to rebuild trust with their communities and open positive lines of communication; we’re no exception. The ever-evolving threats to homeland security, especially at major public events, are obviously another challenge.

  1. What safety tips do you have for first-year students?

Perhaps most important is to understand consent—what it is, what it isn’t—and that sexual activity without consent is a crime. It’s also important to keep possessions secure, lock their room when they’re not home or sleeping, and report suspicious activity to police.

  1. What community outreach events are planned for this year?

This year we are expanding our community relations efforts by assigning officers to be liaisons with specific groups on campus. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is co-sponsoring our first “Coffee With A Cop” on Sept. 23, we have public sessions of active shooter training planned, and a Rape Aggression Defense class that filled within hours of being posted. Long term, we have been approved to add a full-time officer to work solely on community outreach and engagement. There’ll be much more to come in this area for sure!

  1. What are your favorite events on campus each fall semester?

Fall is my favorite time of the year. School opening is always invigorating and as much work as they are, I also enjoy the football games.

  1. How have increased security measures around the world changed the way your department operates?

Threats to public events have dramatically changed the way we do our job. In addition to staffing major events with more officers than we did 20 years ago, we have also restructured approach routes to major venues for both vehicles and pedestrians, incorporated bomb sweeps, introduced fan screening, etc. Our officers now have far more training in handling suspicious incidents, crowd screening, and terrorism response, and we also work more closely with agencies like the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Homeland Security, the FBI, etc., as well as local partners like APD and the Sheriff’s Office. Some of our officers serve on a statewide law enforcement task force and were deployed to Cleveland to help police the RNC.

  1. How has the national tension between law enforcement and the public affected OUPD?

Like all departments across the country, OUPD is striving to build positive relationships with our constituents. Clearly, what has happened elsewhere in the U.S. has impacted how some people view all law enforcement, even if their experiences with OUPD have been positive. Working to help people see that every police department is different is an ongoing challenge.

  1. How does OUPD use social media to communicate?

OUPD maintains social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. We generally communicate helpful tips, notices about events, etc., but we are increasing our use of social media to communicate during major incidents. Our YouTube channel contains several videos about the department and services we offer.

  1. What are some of the special trainings or services OUPD offers?

We offer ALiCE training for responding to an active shooter as well as Rape Aggression Defense training. We also meet with groups on more specialized topics such as how to protest without getting arrested, Halloween and Fest safety tips, etc.

  1. How are OUPD’s relationships with other local law enforcement agencies?

In the wake of Sept.11, law enforcement agencies at all levels have worked to enhance communication and collaboration. OUPD has a great relationship with our local partners, including APD, the Sheriff’s Office, and OSHP. We are members of the Athens-Hocking-Fairfield Major Crimes Unit, serve on the regional Terrorism Prevention Board, and have members in OSHP’s Task Force Blue. I’m particularly grateful for all of our working collaborations as they allow all of us to be more effective in serving the community.