University City

UNCC police chief wins top honor

In just two years, Jeff Baker has made noticeable impact as the chief of UNC Charlotte’s police department; so much so that he was recently selected as the Campus Safety Director of the Year by Campus Safety Magazine.

The police chiefs at Wake Forest University and the University of Maryland were among the seven runners-up.

Baker was nominated by members of his department and Hank Jones, associate vice chancellor of UNC Charlotte. He said it was almost unheard of to be nominated in such a way.

“I am humbled knowing that UNC Charlotte officers nominated me for this prestigious award and that I was chosen from a field of such exceptional chiefs of police,” said Baker, 55.

He has high praise for his team: “Our officers are some of the finest officers I have ever had the privilege of working with, and they place the highest emphasis on safety of students, staff and faculty.”

Baker said he also appreciates the support from Chancellor Philip Dubois, Vice Chancellor Beth Hardin and Jones. “They are concerned about the safety and security of our campus,” he said.

Some of the reasons Baker was selected for the honor were his ability to increase the number of campus police officers and to implement community policing. Under his leadership there was nearly a 36 percent reduction in reported incidents.

The magazine has a link where you can read what voters had to say about Baker: www.CampusSafetymagazine.com/DirectorOfTheYear.com.

Baker secured resources to establish a mobile command unit to use in emergency situations. He is also credited with adding more patrols on foot, bicycles, cars and Segways.

The magazine story quoted the general counsel of UNC Charlotte as saying this: “I have seen first-hand the transformation of that office. It has become a real strength of our campus. I do not lose any sleep worrying about what is going on in our police department, and that is a huge blessing.”

Several comments focused on Bakers ability to collaborate and his ability to earn the trust of students, faculty and administrators.

Campus Safety magazine will publish in-depth coverage of Bakers’ achievements and his department in an upcoming issue. It will also be available on the magazine’s website.

In April 2011, Baker served was chief of UNC Charlotte police. Back then he said, “I feel like I’m a de facto dad of 25,000 students. I’m very transparent, and I encourage parents to call me anytime.”

He was born and raised in Batavia, N.Y. Before joining UNC Charlotte police, he served 28 years with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department in a variety of capacities, including on patrol, on undercover assignments, as a detective in the Special Information Bureau and as a firearms range master. He oversaw police security for Bank of America Stadium and the Charlotte Convention Center from 1997 to 2007.

After working as academic director of recruitment, Baker retired from CMPD in 2008.

Six months after that, Baker was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and six weeks later he ran a 5K race. As a result of his personal experience, Baker continues to volunteer with organizations associated with prostate cancer and the American Cancer Society.

“Unfortunately, approximately 30,000 men die each year due to complications from prostate cancer,” Baker said, “and there are mixed messages in the media surrounding this horrible disease.”

Baker is concerned that the risk is even greater when a man is diagnosed at an earlier age, in his 40s or 50s. He continues to run in 5K foot races to support local and national charities.

When asked about future goals as the campus police chief, Baker said, “We continue to seek improvements in our police department in any and every way possible. Universities are complex communities that present a multitude of issues that must be addressed in regards to safety and security.”

His department is building a comprehensive policy manual that outlines expectations of officers. It will seek accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

One other comment endorsing Baker for the award stated, “He cares about the safety of each and every one of us.” Those few words really sum up his nomination and selection.

Baker said, “I love our UNC Charlotte community and will proudly continue to serve our students as a ‘de facto’ dad.”

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