University names interim police chief

Just three weeks before current University Police Chief Dolores Stafford is slated to step down, a University spokeswoman said Wednesday that current Executive Assistant Chief of Police James Isom has been selected to take over the department on an interim basis starting May 1.

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said Isom is slated to take over after Stafford steps down April 30, adding that the search for a permanent police chief will continue.

“After serving on GW’s police force for more than 35 years, I feel ready to lead the department and will serve as interim police chief until a new police chief has been named,” Isom said in an e-mail. “The role of the GW Police Chief will remain the same during this interim period.”

Isom has served under Stafford as the department’s second-in-command for eight years. Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz said he is confident Isom will “serve the University well in this interim role.”

The search for a permanent chief of police will continue until the University finds the right candidate, Sherrard said. Katz said another search is underway for a senior associate vice president for safety and security, and both Isom and the permanent chief of police will serve under that individual once he or she is hired.

“Filling the senior associate vice president for safety and security position is our top priority,” Katz said. “Once the senior associate vice president for safety and security has joined GW, they will have a significant role in the search for the selection of the chief of police. We look forward to filling each of these important positions as soon as possible.”

Katz said two search firms have been retained to facilitate the search for these positions. Both searches have been underway since the fall but have not yet yielded suitable replacements.

Isom is taking over the police department after a recent spike in student awareness of crime on campus. In the last two weeks, five Crime Alerts have been sent to the University community, informing students and staff about a reported aggravated assault, theft, unlawful entry, assault with a knife, and sexual assault.

The Student Association Senate passed a bill Tuesday night pushing UPD to create a campus map to log crimes. Isom said Wednesday there is not more crime on campus, just easier ways for students to hear about crime.

“There has not been an increase in campus crime,” he said. “The electronic reporting of the alerts has brought them to the attention of more people at the same time.”

Sherrard said Stafford could not be reached for comment and a receptionist with the University Police Department said Stafford was out of the office until Monday. Stafford announced in October plans to retire after serving for 18 years at GW. She told The Hatchet previously she plans to live in Delaware and to work part-time for the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators when she leaves the University.

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