Police chief’s transparency must be carried forward

Originally published September 17, 2010

Thirty seven years is a long time.

In that time, Bradley has seen four university presidents and somewhere in the neighborhood of 37,000 students.

But in that amount of time, Bradley has had only one chief of police.

Dave Baer quietly announced his retirement last week, with word not spreading until Thursday afternoon and an official announcement not coming down until last Friday morning.

We’re assured this wasn’t a hasty move and that Baer had been considering handing over the reins for some time.

No matter the reason, he will be missed.

He’ll be missed by administrators who could depend on his consistency and ability to do his job well. He’ll be missed by students, even those who never had the opportunity to meet him. He’ll be missed by the law enforcement community as a whole.

Baer will be the first to remind everyone, though, that he’s retiring, not being buried.

And while that’s a good point, he’ll be missed nonetheless.

The gaping hole where he sat in his cluttered office is apparent, and we have very little doubt that whoever eventually fills it will find that a rather difficult task.

That said, someone will eventually fill it, and this is a good opportunity to make sure whoever gets the job can bring new ideas to the table.

It’s no secret that crime, especially after last spring, is a huge concern on campus. That’s why this opportunity to get a fresh perspective on issues will be invaluable.

However, whoever fills that position must be as available and transparent as Baer was. At nearly any time of the day or night, students could get a hold of him. Whether they had a concern or complaint, he was there.

He rarely sugar coated anything and always made sure students knew what was going on, whether speaking to them on campus or through the pages of this newspaper.

That’s an unbelievable and, quite frankly, rare quality for someone in that position. But it’s also an incredibly important quality for someone in that position.

Administrators this week were either unsure or unwilling to share how the process for hiring a new chief will go.

If the search operates the way the provost search did last year, a committee of faculty, administrators and a few students will be formed.

That committee will be charged with accepting resumes and deciding which candidates move forward. Ultimately, though, the final decision will likely be made by University President Joanne Glasser.

Whatever the process may be, it must be as open as possible to students. A closed search is unacceptable, and campus visits by any prospective candidate are required, as far as we’re concerned.

We’ve been given no indication that a closed search may be the direction the university is heading, but this is a message to remind administrators that such a move would not be tolerated..

This is, without a doubt, a time for us to look forward. Dave Baer’s legacy has been left. We wish him nothing but happiness – and calm after nearly four decades of occasionally controlled chaos – in his retirement.

We appreciate more than can be conveyed in words all that you’ve done for this university and its students, past and present. From all of them, we’ll miss you.