Temple University has named a longtime Delaware State Police officer, who is also an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware and holds a doctorate in sociology, as vice president of security. public, a newly created post.
Police Captain Jennifer Griffin will begin Aug. 22 as the university prepares to kick off the fall semester at its North Philadelphia campus and gun violence in the city continues to rise.
“I just thought we had to do something different here,” said Ken Kaiser, Temple’s chief operating officer. The new position “is a continuation of our efforts to strengthen our commitment to campus safety… Frankly, it’s our #1 priority.”
READ MORE: Temple to increase police numbers following recent shootings near campus, but some worry oversurveillance
Security concerns erupted last year as gun violence approached the Temple campus on several occasions, including the death of student Samuel Collington, who was fatally shot in the chest on 28 November during a carjacking on the 2200 block of North Park Avenue, and 18-year-old Amir Jones, who was killed during a robbery on Cecil B. Moore Avenue. Temple responded by announcing that he would increase the size of his police force, as well as improve lighting, security technology, and student escort services. He also announced that he had hired former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey to conduct a campus safety audit, which is expected to be completed by mid-October.
But some parents decided to hire their own security company to watch over their children and have formed a group to push for more security efforts.
The university will also soon announce an overhaul of its student shuttle service and the development of a list of landlords in its police patrol area who are considered quality off-campus housing, Kaiser said. Owners who sign up for the list will need to meet certain criteria, Kaiser said, including having good lighting and security cameras, and little or no waste and noise violations. The list, which will include advice on selecting quality accommodation and allow students to write reviews of landlords, is expected to be ready in late fall when students look for their 2023-24 accommodation, said -he declares.
Temple, Kaiser said, decided to create the post of vice president of public safety to “send a strong signal” that the school is ready to take a fresh look and bring together the department, which has experienced tensions at the over the past year as officers have complained of long hours and understaffing. Temple enlisted the help of Maureen S. Rush, who served for a long time as vice president of public safety at the University of Pennsylvania before retiring late last year, Kaiser said.
Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon, president of the faculty senate, said she liked the idea of having a new security liaison, but said systemic issues such as hunger, unemployment and poverty must also resolved and that Temple must continue to build bridges with the community.
“Nobody here wants to create a bubble” around Temple, she said. “What they want to do is better engage with the community so no one feels there are haves and have nots. There can be no doors that separate us from North Philly. We are North Philly.
The new position of vice president at Temple will be in addition to the position of executive director of public safety, currently held by Denise Wilhelm. She replaced Charles Leone, who resigned last spring.
READ MORE: Temple campus on edge after student fatally shot: ‘Students scared’
Griffin, 45, has been a member of the Delaware department for 23 years, holding the rank of captain for 10 years. She currently holds an operations command post, overseeing 50 officers who respond to calls across 82 square miles, but has also held leadership positions in the training academy and internal affairs.
She taught in the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology at the University of Delaware for nearly a decade. His courses include Introduction to Criminal Justice Systems, Law Enforcement Issues, Criminal Justice Ethics, and a Policing Seminar. She also coached youth sports and served as operations manager for the University of Delaware field hockey team for four years, which provided another chance to mentor young adults.
“She brings a unique blend of education, experience, emotional intelligence, knowledge, skills and abilities to this role,” Kaiser said.
Originally from Warriors Mark in central Pennsylvania, Griffin’s father was a police officer in the State College Borough, home of Pennsylvania State University. She always loved hearing him talk about how he helped people and had the chance to ride with him when she was in high school.
“I just thought it was the most honorable job,” she said.
Griffin holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Millersville, a master’s degree in administration of justice with specializations in leadership and management from Wilmington University, and a doctorate in sociology with specializations in gender. and deviance from the University of Delaware.
She has taken an interest in officer wellness, most recently helping to launch the Delaware State Police Wellness App, which provides confidential access to counseling services for officers, retirees and their family members and allows officers to assess and assess their mental health.
Griffin said she sees her new job as one to “set the vision for the organization, to be the face…, to build those relationships, to connect with our neighborhoods and our communities.”
Building trust will be her biggest priority, she said.
“Campus security cannot do its job successfully if we don’t have buy-in and commitment from the communities we serve,” she said.
She also hopes to connect with Temple’s criminal justice department and serve as a guest speaker — another chance to connect with students, she said.
“I love working with young adults,” she says.