In an effort to provide added security measures at Cleveland State, the college has recently transitioned from Campus Security to Campus Police.
Mike Hodges, chief of Campus Police, said, “When I interviewed, they told me the intention was to move from an unarmed security to a full-fledged full-time POST (Police Officer Standard Training) Certified Police Department.”
Hodges said the biggest motivator behind the change was violence across the country on school campuses.
“Violence is growing every day, and the thought process was to make our campus more secure — to be a deterrent to any kind of armed shooter or threat, or criminals in general. We want to keep that element away from the campus.”
Dr. Tommy Wright, vice president for Finance and Administration, said, “When you look across the country at the different institutions, while we have been blessed to not have any type of violent crime here, we can’t ignore the fact that it could happen, and we didn’t really feel prepared since we weren’t armed in any way. The first step was training our Campus Security to carry Tasers.
“When Mike came on board, with him being a POST Certified Police Officer, we were immediately able to take that to a whole new level and convert from Security to Police and carry guns.
“Mike has been instrumental in leading this transition. His knowledge of law enforcement made it a smooth transition. In addition, our Police Academy, director Dwight Williams and assistant director Jarred Crawford, have also been instrumental in helping with this process.”
Wright went on to state, “One of the other things we decided was to move our Campus Police Department to a more centralized location.”
Campus Security used to be across the street from the campus, but it is now located in the George L. Mathis Student Center.
“We had a lot of help along the way,” said Hodges. “Chief Wes Snyder and Capt. Dave Bishop with the Cleveland Police Department, along with various members of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and 911 Center, as well as Bradley County Emergency Management, have been extremely helpful to us during this process.”
Hodges said it took about eight months to make the transition happen.
“We had to write a letter to the Tennessee POST Commission, letting them know of our intention to become a police department because POST regulates all police activity in the state of Tennessee; that was the first step. At that point, we had to start the process getting our proper equipment, developing a different standard operating procedure, as well as a whole new set of documents.”
Hodges said they have hired additional police officers and as other positions become available, they will replace some of those positions with police officers, as well.
“We have relatively few crimes on our campus,” stated Hodges. “This is a preventive act. Not only for those wanting to do harm or trying to commit a crime, but we will also be a quicker response force because we are right here on campus.”
Hodges went on to state, “We want to continue to ensure that Cleveland State has a safe campus. We want our faculty, staff and students to come here to school and concentrate on being students or employees, and still have peace of mind that their well-being is taken care of.”
Hodges is a graduate of Maryville College where he received his bachelor of arts in history and the Knoxville Police Department Police Academy where he received his POST Certification.
He brings 14 years of experience in patrol tactics, traffic accident investigation, preliminary investigations of both property crimes and crimes against persons and crime scene investigation. He is also a field training officer and departmental instructor in numerous areas.