WUPD celebrates 20 years of protecting, serving campus

Jessica Knieff

The Washburn University Police Department celebrated 20 years Aug. 9, but they were keeping the campus safe long before that.

The 1998 handbook for the very first WUPD described the transition from a security force to a campus police department. The department was formed at the suggestion of a study conducted by the former Chairman of the Criminal Justice Department, David McElreath. The study came about due to an increase in crime in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Chief of Police, Chris Enos, greeted visitors at the open house in the small WUPD office that was filled with attendees interested in learning more about the history of safety on campus.

Enos talked about the some of the biggest changes for the department over the past twenty years.

“Twenty years ago, we had monochromatic cameras,” Enos said. “We had six to eight cameras and now we have up to several hundred cameras on campus.”

Enos mentioned that now, all officers wear body cameras and the advancements in radio technology in the past 20 years have helped the department greatly.

He said that the biggest changes though, have been the training and selection processes. The selection process had little criteria and the training process was not nearly as intense as it is now, according to Enos.

“At a minimum, they complete 40 hours a year of training and the selection process is extensive,” Enos said.

The aspect of the department that has not changed much over the years, is the situations that they typically respond to. Enos said that looking at crime reports from 20 years ago and now, one could barely tell the difference because so many of the calls are similar.

Enos stressed the importance of WUPD’s commitment to being a resource for students on campus.

“We are a little bit nontraditional in the services we provide,” Enos said. “We are able to help them do pretty much anything and so where they might be hesitant to call the police to deal with this or that, that’s what we’re here for.”

Police Captain Matthew Simpson also commented on WUPD’s role on campus.

“We really are here to help,” Simpson said. “If you car dies, we’ll give you a jump start. If you lock your keys in your car, we’ll help you out. We offer a lot of resources.”

WUPD enters its 20th year with 22 certified law enforcement officers and is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

WUPD can always be reached at 786-670-1153.