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COVID-19: News and Campus Updates

Chief's Corner


30 June 2022

Yesterday marked my first time of being able to swear-in new officers to the department.  We are very excited to have Officer Jungels and Officer Vasquez as the newest members of UNCPD!  Both of the new officers are a great addition and Officer Vasquez is a UNC graduate!  Their hiring brings to close a period of struggle over the past two years in which our department saw the departure of nearly half of the police force.  These departures were due to normal attrition, or at least what I call ‘normal’ in the current world of policing.  

The culture around policing has become difficult.  Officers across the country are leaving their departments because of several factors.  Prior to about five years ago, officers would leave primarily for a few reasons.  Either they were retiring, moving to a new police department, or were being let go because of poor performance.  Today, officers are primarily leaving because of pressure and burnout.  Legislative changes, while good intentioned, has made it increasingly difficult.  Jail reform has either limited the types of crimes we can arrest for or has reduced the sentencing to where criminals don’t spend much time in jail before being released again onto the public.  Additionally, the national sentiment, that major news outlets repeat, is a distrust for police.  I will admit there have been moments where cops across the county have made terrible choices.  Those officers should be and are facing criminal charges for their actions.  However, the perception can appear that people don’t want police, don’t trust them, or simply hate them because of the uniform they wear.  Even in Greeley, you can find “ACAB” (All Cops Are *expletive*) spray painted in various places.  All those factors are leading police officers nationally, to not only leave their department, but to leave policing entirely.

Fortunately, UNCPD exists in a supportive community.  We are grateful to have a connection with the members of the university family and the city of Greeley.  I have been welcomed warmly by everyone I have met and when there has been areas that the police department can improve upon, those folks have been kind in letting me know how we can better serve them.  No matter how law enforcement may change, UNCPD is committed to community policing and being partners with everyone.  Now, with the addition of these two new officers, we are nearly fully-staffed and have only one vacancy left.  

To that end, UNCPD is making some changes.  We are working on the inside of our building and making improvements, to both the public and secured areas, to make them more comfortable and welcoming.  We are also moving into the digital age!  Stay tuned as we will be launching our social media on Facebook and Instagram very soon!  We have some entertaining ideas that will be coming soon, and we are excited for the next school year.

Aaron


9 June 2022

We have had another break-in to Bishop-Lehr.  Ugh!  Like everyone, we understand that the building is in a transitional phase.  The future for that building and section of land has a lot of potential.  However, in the meantime, various persons keep finding their way inside Bishop-Lehr to leave a mark.  When I say leave a mark, I mean spray paint graffiti all over the place.

 To help everyone understand what this means, Colorado Revised Statutes 18-4-203 is 2nd Degree Burglary.  It is defined as unlawfully entering or remaining in a building with the intent to commit a crime.  Colorado Revised Statute 18-4-501 is Criminal Mischief, which is defined as damaging the real or personal property of one or more persons.  If someone breaks into Bishop-Lehr to spray paint, that meets the elements of those crimes and is the basis for a probable cause arrest.  While Criminal Mischief is usually a misdemeanor, 2nd Degree Burglary is a Class 4 Felony. 

 Yes, I said Felony.  Felonies are no simple issue.  They follow you the rest of your life and impact things like being able to get a job.  Many employers conduct background checks prior to employment and felonies are usually red flags that cause big problems.

 While this isn’t meant to scare you, it is meant to educate.  Breaking into Bishop-Lehr to do some spray painting may seem harmless.  I am trying to relay that it’s not.  Or at least, a lot of the harm caused may actually be to your future career.  The individuals we caught this week will now have to face those consequences as we charged all of them with 2nd Degree Burglary and Criminal Mischief.

 We don’t want to be in this position but based on targeted hate speech and significant property damage that we have encountered in the past, we are forced to take a zero tolerance position.

 Please help us!!  If you see someone around the building that looks out of place, let us know right away.  We would much rather prevent an issue than take enforcement afterwards.

 Thanks,Aaron


25 May 2022

Like the rest of the country, my heart goes out to the families who lost their whole world yesterday in Uvalde, TX.  I can’t imagine their sorrow and know that each of us who wears a uniform would give anything, including our own lives, to have saved those children.  Thanks to the efforts of the brave officers there, I am grateful that the tragedy wasn’t worse than it already is.  As the Police Chief for a campus police department, this is the nightmare scenario.  The safety of each student is my entire focus every day.  To that end, your police department never stops training and proactively working to prevent something like this from occurring here.  

We are always looking for ways to improve our training and this year, we will be participating in active shooter response training hosted by the FBI.  We are providing the training space here on campus and are grateful to help facilitate the training not only for us, but for area law enforcement agencies.  We are also constantly patrolling, examining building access and thinking about how to improve the physical safety of the campus.  However, preparation is only part of what we need.  

More importantly, we need you.  We need you to be watchful.  Please let us know if you encounter someone who is in need of assistance.  This can be through seeing a concerning social media post or observing someone who seems lonely or disconnected.  We want to have the chance to speak to them.  I promise you that is not to create a stigma or make that person feel embarrassed.  We will be friendly and compassionate and connect them to any resources they need.  In many cases, it will likely be a clarification or learning moment for someone.  In those other cases, we might become the positive influence someone desperately needed.  

As Uvalde, TX, and so many other incidents like this has taught us, is that all of us can not wait.  As soon as a concerning behavior or unnerving social media posting occurs, you must alert someone with the ability or authority to have that conversation.  We only want to help and maybe that conversation is the key to helping that person.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families in Uvalde!

Aaron


11 May 2022

We wish all graduates of the Class of 2022 congratulations and the best of luck on the next phase of your journeys!  Even though the summer brings some slow down overall for the university, for us, the summer remains a busy time.  During these months, we will be working hard on updating policies and procedures, training and getting ready for the next school year.  There’s a lot to be proud of with the University of Northern Colorado Police Department!  The employees are committed to making an even bigger and more positive impact in the lives of the campus community.  We are putting together plans for increased community engagement and are always on the lookout for new ideas of how to be partners with everyone.

While the students are on summer break, we are still here and will be visible.  You will find us at the UC, at the recreation center or the coffee shop.  We are working on some changes to our building and preparing for a HVAC remodel, which will finally bring air conditioning to the east side of the police department.  We are excited about that! 

We hope to see you over the summer months and you are always welcome to stop by Gray Hall anytime.  We would love to give you a tour of the building and how we operate.

Aaron


22 April 2022

As I move into the end of my first week as Chief of Police, it’s been exhausting but exciting.  I am honored to bring my experience managing in a large police agency to UNC.  There’s so much potential in the University of Northern Colorado Police Department!  It’s been over a year since someone has served in the role as the permanent Chief of Police.  Captain Rick McNair has done a fantastic job acting as the Interim Police Chief!  He has shouldered a heavy load serving in dual roles and is to be commended.  He also had to manage a natural attrition cycle that saw the department lose half of its allotted police officers.  While we wish those former employees well in retirement or their next adventure, we look to the future.  Captain McNair and Sergeant Patrick Gallagher have hired a mix of experienced police officers and new recruits.  Currently, UNCPD has only one vacancy in its ranks.  However, enough praise cannot be given to those officers who weathered the staffing storm. 

UNCPD is a good agency with good people who have numerous ideas for some positive changes.  A lot of feedback has been passed my way and it’s time for the department to shift into the next gear and keep moving forward.  You can expect to see some changes in how we look and how we operate.  I am committed to making UNCPD more of a community partner for every student and every member of the staff.  We will be out of our cars and we will be working on building connections where we can just hang out with you.  Please feel free to say hi to any officer you see in the dining hall, in the common area of a residence hall or anywhere on campus!  My bet is that we will have already said hi to you first!

Aaron