BY MERYL PHAIR ’21
The Mount Holyoke and Smith College shared campus police departments have appointed Daniel Hect as their new police chief, effective this past week. Hect replaced Raymond LaBarre, who had served as interim chief of police since July 6, 2012.
The Grécourt Gate, a website for Smith College community events and news, published an article on Feb. 11 announcing Hect’s appointment. According to the article, he said, “I am looking forward to working with both Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges to improve community policing efforts through engagement and ensuring the department becomes more visible and accessible.”
Hect has recently served in the campus police departments of several other universities. His last position was as the director of public safety and chief of police at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, and he also served as the director of campus safety and chief of police at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.
An article published by the Xavier Newswire on Jan. 17, 2019, claims that Daniel Hect has made a career out of connecting to his communities. “Hect believes that a job as a police officer isn’t confined to formalities, but efforts need to be made to engage with those you are sworn to protect,” the article read. It described how Hect had met with students at the Coffee Emporium at Xavier University to discuss their feelings toward their campus police department (XUPD) three times before he accepted the position.
Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges used Spelman Johnson, an executive search firm, to assist them in finding an ideal candidate.
“We launched the search over the summer and had candidates visit campus during the fall and early winter,” said Shannon D. Gurek, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer at the College, who oversees campus police.
The search committee was made up of representatives from Smith College, campus police, student life and human resources. In addition the candidates met with a variety of people at both campuses during day-long interviews — including various members of campus police, student life staff across both campuses and human resources staff, as well as other members of the community,” said Gurek.
Gurek explained that the most regular hiring within the campus police department is at the officer and dispatch level. “This is generally handled by the command staff within the department with support from the human resources office. Since we have had some retirements at the end of last year, we’ve been able to promote from within for some sergeant positions,” said Gurek.
Hampshire College was a member of the shared police department in the past, but left as of Dec. 31, 2018. The department will still provide them with dispatch services until June 30, 2019. Going forward, the shared department will be supporting Mount Holyoke and Smith.