Spelman Johnson Seeks Police Chief for Mount Holyoke and Smith College Police Department

January 15, 2019 – Executive recruitment firm Spelman Johnson has been selected by Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges to find a chief for their shared police department. Search associate Heather J. Larabee is leading the assignment.

A third institution, Hampshire College, recently left the collaborative police department.

The Mount Holyoke and Smith police department is responsible for the safety and security of both of the prestigious women’s colleges, including community building, crime prevention programming, investigations, patrol and response services, and assistance to faculty, staff, students and visitors.

The two western Massachusetts-based colleges seek a transformative and proactive leader to serve as their chief of police, the administrative and executive officer of the department, said Spelman Johnson. The chief oversees the delivery of professional and responsive law enforcement, safety and security services, utilizing a strong community policing approach for the two communities.

A Joint Police Department

The chief of police is responsible for organizing, planning, directing and controlling the non-armed department’s activities and functions to provide the highest degree of safety, security and service, said the search firm. This position works closely with presidents, senior administrators, students, faculty and staff on both campuses, especially in the areas of student affairs, residential life, facilities, and health services. The chief also maintains a close working relationship with the local police and fire departments, the Massachusetts State Police and the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

In addition, the chief leads emergency planning, preparation and response initiatives; ensures the department’s compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, including the Clery Act; and incorporates best practices to create programs and services that enhance the department’s educational focus and assists each of the colleges in achieving its mission. Reporting to the vice president for finance and administration at Mount Holyoke College—but working closely with the vice presidents for finance and administration and the deans of students at both campuses—the chief oversees a team of about 40 officers and staff members and is responsible for their evaluation, training, and professional development.

The successful candidate will have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 10 years of experience in increasingly responsible, high-level leadership positions within a police or public safety agency, said Spelman Johnson. A master’s degree and/or public safety experience within a higher education environment are preferred. Candidates must meet, or be able to meet, all requirements for certification under Massachusetts law as a special state police officer and be warranted to receive police powers by the Massachusetts State Police Licensing Unit. Candidates must also maintain a valid Massachusetts driver’s license and certification in first responder, CPR and defensive tactics.

Moving Forward

Candidates will be expected to possess proven creative and strategic thinking skills and financial management experience, have excellent oral and written communication skills along with highly effective command presence, unquestioned integrity and a deep commitment to service. The new chief must have extensive experience in emergency management, supervision and promoting the professional development of all police officers and staff as well as professionalizing police practice consistent with community culture and standards, among other requirements.

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Since the collaborative between the colleges was formed almost 10 years ago, the chief’s position has been somewhat tenuous. “With nine individuals serving in either the chief or interim chief’s role over the course of those 10 years, the lack of consistent leadership and direction has taken a toll on the department’s morale and effectiveness,” said Spelman Johnson. “This presents the new chief with an outstanding opportunity to work with a dedicated staff and senior leadership committed to the success of this position and how to best make this collaborative department work.”

Founded in 1837, Mount Holyoke College is the nation’s oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning for women and is consistently ranked among the most selective, private, residential liberal arts colleges in America. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,199 and is located on 800 acres in South Hadley, MA. Smith College, located on 147 acres in Northampton, MA,  is an independent, nondenominational college. The school, which opened in 1875, is among the largest women’s colleges in the United States, with a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,514. Smith remains strongly committed to the education of women at the undergraduate level, but admits both men and women as graduate students.

Finding Leaders

Spelman Johnson is based in Easthampton, MA. Established in 1991, the search firm has helped hundreds of academic institutions identify professionals, pairing leaders with positions across all facets of colleges and universities. Spelman Johnson, which has an extensive record of finding senior higher education law enforcement leaders, is also seeking a chief of police for Virginia Commonwealth University and VCU Health System in Richmond, VA as well as a senior director for campus safety and security for Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus in north Baltimore.

Ms. Larabee most recently served as assistant dean of students and director of campus activities in the division of student affairs at the University of Southern California. Prior to that, she served as assistant director for cultural arts and activities. She had previously worked at Francis Marion University, where she served as the director of student life in the division of student affairs. She also held the position of program coordinator in the division of student affairs at the University of Tennessee.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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