Second UPD chief candidate visits Eastern


Corryn Brock

Joe Przybyla speaks during a student forum as one of the candidates for Chief of the University Police Department in the Paris Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Corryn Brock, Editor-in-Chief

The second candidate for University Police Department Chief visited Eastern Tuesday afternoon.

Joseph Przybyla, the candidate and current police commander at the Northern Illinois University Police Department, said he wants to bring some of his current department’s practices to Eastern that he believes will help UPD function better.

Przybyla shared that in his current position he has worked to create bonds between his department and student organizations.

“Some of the things that we do there that I would hope to bring here is the engagement we have with students,” Przybyla said. “And, so, there’s a couple of different areas that we do that I think are worth sharing.”

One program he said was proud of helping create was having a liaison between students and members of Greek life. He said doing so has built “a tremendous amount of trust and mutual respect.”

“Now, when there’s a concern or an issue with one of those Greek organizations, they trust to be able to come to one of those Greek liaison officers and explain ‘hey this is our concern, this is what’s going on’ or ‘hey we had an event, and so and so here good too much to drink, you know, we don’t want to get in trouble but they might need to go to the hospital,’ that is tremendous that we now have that trust that they’ll call us and have that conversation, Przybyla said. “That wasn’t always the case.”

He said he also takes pride in his department’s engagement with the four cultural centers at NIU.

Przybyla said officers in his department frequently engage with students at those centers to build relationships with students on campus.

Another part of building those connections is having a police force that is representative of the student body’s makeup. He said he feels it is important to have officers who students can look at and see themselves.

He added that when students have that representation, they are able to trust the department more.

“There would be no university without students, so we need to make you comfortable here, we need to make you feel safe here,” Przybyla said. “And we need to find ways that you have trust in the police department, and the police department can engage with you to give you what you need.”

He said he also wants to make students comfortable with UPD, regardless of their background and past experiences with the police.

“Everybody comes to campus from a different hometown or different environment and had a different interaction with the police in that hometown or environment, and you’re all coming here. What our challenge is, is to police that diverse community and be able to take the student who maybe had a bad experience with the police, let’s say they grew up in St. Louis, and had a bad experience there and they come here. So we need to repair that. We need to say ‘hey look, the Eastern Illinois Police are not the same as the St. Louis police, we’re better, we are going to treat you right. We’re going to do the right thing,’” Przybyla said. “So we have to repair in some circumstances, whereas we might have a student comes from rural Illinois from a small town of a couple 100 people, they might have a great interaction with the police because you know that that’s just how their little hometown was.”

Adding to his goal of creating better police-student relations, Przybyla said police need to evolve with student needs, one of those needs being mental health concerns.

“That is an area where I think the police need to be part of that conversation and identifying when those things exist and helping out,” Przybyla said. “… it’s kind of looking at the whole picture and finding out how can we help them to be well.”

Przybyla has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, a master’s degree in science, a master’s degree in business administration and is currently working towards a Ph.D. in international relations.

He has been with the NIU police since April 2002 and has served in a variety of roles, like residence hall officer, bicycle patrol officer and police sergeant.

He is the second of four candidates. The next candidates will visit Eastern on Oct. 19 and Oct. 22.

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].