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Interim police chief Chris Daniel shares hopes for UP

Lt. Christopher Daniel stepped up as interim police chief about a month ago after almost 30 years working at USF campus police.
Special to the Oracle

Lt. Christopher Daniel has been the interim chief of university police (UP) for only about a month, but he is not letting that stop him from making changes in the department.

“The ‘interim’ piece isn’t bothering me. We need to move forward. We’re continuing to do the good job we always do,” he said. “I’m just taking this opportunity to refine some of the processes that we’re working on that we’ve worked on in the past and continue to work on.” 

Specific changes coming to UP include an official public information officer, which Daniel said he hopes will better connect the agency to the community as well as to its own goals. 

“I have a great staff of people here from the captains to the operational personnel both on the street, in records, in communications, everywhere in the agency. These people do a fantastic job. We just never really sell ourselves the way we should have,” he said. “That’s what I’m hoping to change.” 

Daniel has been a part of UP since the 1980s, giving him almost 30 years of experience on USF’s campus. He said he began his career with UP as a street officer, later climbing up through management and eventually a position as assistant chief of police.

“When I first started, I worked on the street responding to calls, then I moved into a … supervisory position on the street … and from that point, I moved to a management-level position, and have been in just about every section of the agency in that management position,” he said.

Daniel became the assistant chief of police in January of last year. The last chief of police, JD Withrow, retired this year after 30 years of service. He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Daniel said he hopes to keep his current position as interim chief of police for at least several years.

Aside from efforts to improve the department’s public and internal image, the agency is working on improving transparency, identifying strengths and weaknesses and a new annual report separate from the annual safety report.

“We already do the annual Safety and Security Report, this will be different. This is going to highlight the agency and speak to the different divisions, what they do and what they’ve done throughout the year,” Daniel said. “(The report will) really get the community an opportunity to see us from the inside out.”

Daniel said the change cannot only come from above, as it requires the cooperation by the whole of UP. One way he said he hopes to gain this cooperation is through an advisory group, with which he will meet monthly to discuss UP’s goals and objectives. 

“I hope we can use (the advisory committee) to develop these goals and objectives. We have to buy in at all levels. It’s not a top-down issue, it is an agency-wide issue — a comprehensive transition,” Daniel said. 

But Daniel said UP is primarily concerned with making USF a safe place for students.

“The mindset here is we’re here to manage the students. That’s not the case,” Daniel said. “We are here to serve and protect this community, and we do that by making sure that our students and our staff and faculty can work with and study in an environment that’s safe and conducive to academics.”