MSU Police evolving to better engage with the campus and community
This is another edition of Chopping It Up with the Chief, the chief being Michigan State University's Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of Police, Marlon Lynch.
As the chief continues to reorganize the department, today we’re focusing on the Police Services Bureau. We have with us today Captain Sherief Fadly. He leads the Patrol Division inside the Police Services Bureau. And Captain Dan Munford oversees the Community Engagement Unit.
“The Community Engagement Unit is a team comprised of four sergeants and me,” says Munford. “We're spread out throughout the different neighborhoods on campus, and our goal is just to reach out and be a contact and liaison for our students, faculty and staff within the residential neighborhoods.”
“I'm entrusted by the VP to run our Patrol Division, our K-9 Unit, and our tactical team,” says Fadly. “Our Patrol Division is a fully functional; we're a police service. We're vested with the authority as police officers sworn in the state of Michigan. We also are deputized in Ingham County because we have property all over Ingham County, and sometimes we're called for mutual aid assists. We have a 24/7 365-day operation. We provide police services to the community ranging from anything from bike larcenies to domestics, narcotics calls, drug calls, and active shooters if there's that type of call. We respond essentially from mild to wild, Russ.”
And Chief, why did you reorganize in this way?
“It’s about evolving to meet the needs of the campus and how we engage with our community,” says Lynch. “It’s having a specific unit that spends time engaging with the housing staff and with the student affairs staff on a regular basis as often as possible.
“A good example is Dan's office is in the main library. These offices have existed for years within various buildings within the campus. It’s a philosophy of continuous engagement. It's trying to be proactive with the comfort level with our community and how they become more comfortable with us and the roles that we play, specifically from a community engagement piece. And that will continue to evolve.
“We also looked at what types of calls are most common for us. We have a numbers of officers on patrol, and as we talk to Deputy Chief Andrea Munford and Community Support, we have started also to invest in supporting mental health issues and sexual assault investigations. We try to balance our manpower to meet the needs of the community.”
Lynch explains the difference between community service and community support. And we learn more about the “very popular” K-9 unit and the versatility of MSU’s officers from Fadly.
“I believe an MSU police officer can go anywhere in policing,” continues Fadly. “I don't believe just anyone can come to MSU and police.” Fadly shares a story of MSU officers wrangling 40 beef cattle in the middle of the night.
“We're here 24/7,” says Munford. “We are highly trained. Don't be afraid to talk to us. We love talking to people, especially in my role. If you ever see me out, that's what we do. We're dedicated to this university, we're dedicated to this job, to the students, faculty, staff, and their safety. It's a great place to work.”
“The addition of the comfort K-9s is something else that we see that our community values and needs,” Lynch adds. “K-9s want to help to soothe and help with stress for those of our community, that's part of it as well. And we are starting a Citizens Police Academy and it will go through the semester. We have 20 participants. There's been a lot of interest from our community members for it. And it's an opportunity to be transparent on how the department operates and why things are done in a certain manner. And it's beginning of fall semester, so there are lots of things going on. Everything from the move-in to the beginning of football season and everything in between.”
“Please remember what Captain Mumford said, we're very approachable,” says Fadly. “Come meet and know your MSU police and public safety officers. We're that resource, we're there for them. We don't pick and choose our calls. When the call comes in, we answer them. We want the community to be comfortable knowing that it's a partnership. We're here to serve with a second to none type of response and everybody's behind that. You'll see it in the interactions between our department and the community members. I'm very pleased with that.”
MSU Today airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 5 a.m. on WKAR News/Talk and Sundays at 8 p.m. on 760 WJR. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.