University begins search for new chief of police

University officials have begun the search for a new University Police chief, after current Chief Dolores Stafford announced plans to retire at the end of the academic year.

“We’re just at the beginning of the process, because she just announced that she’s leaving,” Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz said. “We are going to do a national search for it, and we’re going to be looking for an individual [who] has broad experience.”

Though Katz said his department would “retain a search firm,” few details are available at this time about the search. Although the search procedure is unclear, Katz said that the ideal candidate would have a focus on crime prevention.

“Partly, with the reorganization of safety and security, we want to have an increasing emphasis on prevention at the institution overall,” Katz said. “So we’ll be looking for people with that experience.”

Stafford, who has headed the department for more than 15 years, announced plans to retire at the end of the academic year and notified the University Oct. 18. She said she would continue to serve as police chief through the transition.

Stafford said she will not play an active role in identifying or interviewing candidates, but will lend her perspective to the selection process.

“I guess first and foremost is that the individual is going to have to come into this job with a lot of energy,” Stafford said. “Because this is a fast-paced organization in a very interesting city, and the location of GW creates a challenge for whoever my successor is going to be.”

Katz said those involved in the search “value [Stafford’s] opinion.”

“[Dolores] is not shy, she’ll tell us what she thinks, and we’ll clearly listen to it, because she does know a lot about it in general, and she knows a lot specifically about this University,” Katz said.

Stafford said the biggest factor the search team should look for is leadership qualities.

“The role of chief is to be the leader, somebody who guides their folks, but I actually think that an important component of the job is to be responsive and accessible to the leaders of the institution, my staff of 170 full-time and 100-plus part-time people and for the community at large,” Stafford said. “Juggling all of these different things is not an easy job when you’re trying to be responsive and accessible to three distinct groups of constituents.”

Emily Cahn contributed to this report.

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