Dennis Franks, candidate for the position of police chief of the University Police Department, spoke about building a presence on campus at his interview Wednesday.
This was the final interview for the position. Other candidates were current interim police chief Kent Martin and Peter Buckley, who now conducts background investigations on applicants to FBI positions.
Franks is currently the police chief for Elon University in North Carolina.
He recieved a master’s and bachelor’s degree in law enforcement and justice administration from Western Illinois University, and graduated from Northwestern’s School of Police Staff and Command.
He plans to assess programs already in place instead of changing systems right away.
“If it’s not broken, it doesn’t need to be fixed,” Franks said.
He did not make any changes during his first year at Elon University, instead observing and talking to the officers to see what was needed.
In Franks’ opinion, the police chief of any department should be the most visible person in the department.
“I try to have very visible presence on campus,” he said.
To increase this visibility, he mentioned using social media to check up on what people were talking about.
He said because people may feel intimidated going into a police station and saying hi, so it is up to officers to make these connections.
It is with these solid interactions, he said, that officers can create positive relationships.
Back at Elon University,Franks and the rest of the University Police Department had dinner with members of the Black Student Union.
Franks said neither group had an agenda at this dinner, but that each organization wanted to talk about each other’s concerns and have an open dialogue with each other.
“It makes people feel safe,” Franks said.
Franks did not go into policing because he necessarily wanted to be a chief- his main goal was to help people.
“I believe you can help people by serving,” Franks said. “That is what I most focused my career on- how can I best serve people?”
He emphasized that being a part of the community is important to him.
Currently, Franks does not live in the community around Elon University, where he works, and he said he misses this part of his job.
In five years, Franks sees himself still working at Eastern should he get the position. He said he does not want to be the person who jumps around from position to position.
Candidates have been on campus during this past week, eating two meals, one with students and one with Lynette Drake, interim associate vice president of student affairs.
They also had sessions with students affairs, and minority affairs and city officials have met candidates as well, such as the mayor.
Heather Webb, director of student standards, said they have met with the President’s Council and the search commitee as well.
The search committee’s feedback will be used when Drake makes her final desicion on who to appoint, Webb said.
The new police chief will be announced after the first day of classes.