Spelman Johnson Seeks Police Chief for Texas State University

November 8, 2018 – The public sector is in the midst of major transformation. It faces an array of challenges that range from shifting public expectations to budgetary pressures and a growing demand for operational efficiency. To successfully navigate these issues, government organizations need leaders who are focused, tenacious and adaptable, with the capacity to deal with significant scale, complexity and ambiguity, say recruiters who specialize in the field.

Recently, executive recruitment firm Spelman Johnson was selected by Texas State University to lead its search for a new chief of police. Search associate J. Scott Derrick is leading the assignment.

The chief of police works closely with the university police department staff, campus constituents and the local community to promote a safe and secure environment for Texas State University, said Spelman Johnson. The chief provides comprehensive leadership, strategic vision and general oversight for patrol operations, investigations, community policing, crime prevention strategies, emergency response, community outreach, educational services, crime statistics, federal compliance reporting and programs for the campus community. Managing a comprehensive 24-hour/365 day-a-year department, the chief leads a staff of 57, including supervisors, campus police officers, dispatchers and administrative staff, overseeing all recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, retention and performance evaluations.


The position requires a bachelor’s degree (master’s preferred) in criminal justice, public administration, education, social sciences, or a closely related field, said the search firm. Candidates should also have at least 10 years of demonstrated leadership in law enforcement, including increasing level and scope of responsibilities, command supervisory experience, budget management and operational/programmatic responsibilities for safety.

“The successful candidate will demonstrate a vision for building a cutting-edge law enforcement agency with an emphasis on best practices in a higher education setting, and possess excellent communication skills and experience in media relations,” said Spelman Johnson. Prospects must also exhibit a previous record of success at a command level in a residential, university campus or similar environment. Experience with emergency preparedness, crisis management response and communication systems are also required.

With a student population of over 38,000, Texas State University is an emerging research and Hispanic-serving university located in the burgeoning Austin-San Antonio corridor. Founded in 1899 and currently the 16th largest public institution in the U.S. in terms of undergraduate enrollment, Texas State enrolls students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 66 countries.

Identifying Leaders

Spelman Johnson is based in Easthampton, MA. Since 1991, the 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 for the Three College Campus Police Department, which serves Mount Holyoke, Smith and Hampshire colleges. Hampshire will be departing from the collaborative department in January.

In a higher education career spanning 30 years, Mr. Derrick has worked at both public and private institutions, most recently as executive director of the Student Union & Cone University Center at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Previously, he served as the director of the Trone Student Center at Furman University, the director of student life at the College of Charleston and assistant director of student activities at the University of Richmond. For many years, Mr. Derrick was an active member of the Association of College Unions International as well as the National Association for Campus Activities, serving in a number of leadership roles, presenting educational content and leading interactive workshops.

Turning to Search Firms

A number of cities across the U.S. have turned to search firms to find new leaders. Here is a sampling from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:

The City of Pasadena, CA retained Los Angeles-based Teri Black & Company to lead its efforts to find a new police chief. Serving communities with populations over one million to towns as small as 2,000, she has built a substantial base of clients across the western U.S. that continually rely upon her personalized service and recruitment expertise. 

In separate assignments, Keller, TX-based Strategic Government Resources has been chosen to find new police chiefs for two municipalities in Pennsylvania, Newtown Township and Edinboro. Strategic Government Resources, founded in 1999, partners with local governments to provide a variety of services.

Colorado Springs, CO-based KRW Associates has placed Mark Jones as the new police chief for the city of Greely, CO. The principals of KRW have decades of public-sector experience as practitioners as well as years of executive search and organizational consulting experience throughout the U.S.

Bob Murray & Associates recently assisted in the selection of David Nisleit as the new chief of the San Diego Police Department. Mr. Nisleit has served as the San Diego Police Department’s assistant chief. Bob Murray & Associates clients include cities, counties and special districts, both large and small. 

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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