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Sunday, December 21, 2014

New UNMPD chief vows to rein in assaults

Lowering the number of sexual assaults on campus and improving general safety will be the new goals of the UNM Police Department.

The department’s new chief, Kevin McCabe, said he hopes to accomplish these things by collaborating with the Albuquerque Police Department.

“The focus is on the educational experience — to provide a safe campus for everybody that is a part of the UNM family: students, faculty and staff,” McCabe said.

UNM hired McCabe over the summer to replace the outgoing police chief Kathy Guimond. McCabe has served UNMPD for four years, and before that served for 24 years with APD, where he retired as deputy chief of police. According to a statement from UNM, McCabe was a top candidate in a nationwide search conducted to fill the position.

“Kevin offers the best of both worlds for this position, in that he has had extensive experience in a city police department and on a campus police force,” Executive Vice President of the Administrative Department David Harris said in a statement. “In addition, there is added value in that he is already familiar with our University and its community, so he can hit the ground running in this key role at UNM.” McCabe said the expectation of his officers is that they are professional.

“I take a lot of pride in this police department,” McCabe said. “I hope (UNMPD officers) take the attitude that I want to make this campus safe for their own sons or daughters, and do everything they can to create that type of atmosphere.”

One of McCabe’s top priorities as chief of police is to prevent sexual assault on campus, he said. “I want to make sure we do everything we can, like providing escorts, and that our patrol officers are always vigilant,” he said. “That if we get called we are investigating properly and providing all the resources we can for victims.”

UNM employs 36 officers, and McCabe said that four to five officers are on constant patrol of UNM property at any given time. Because UNM has property beyond main campus, McCabe said UNMPD has an ongoing collaboration with APD.

“We know they are a resource we can use, and vice versa,” he said. “We let the southeast area commanders know any time there is anything of interest on or around campus.”

In the past, McCabe specialized in creating partnerships at APD. During his time with the department, he said he helped create networks with Albuquerque businesses to help prevent theft and worked with local organizations to create the APD domestic violence victim assistance unit.

McCabe said the importance of building partnerships is also something he learned from former UNMPD chief Guimond. “The former chief did a great job of establishing a reputation of a professional organization, and working together makes us a stronger police department and stronger university,” he said.

UNMPD has officers who can provide escort services 24 hours a day, seven days a week to anyone walking from one on-campus location to another. Anyone who would like an officer escort can call the dispatch office at 277-2241.

All UNMPD officers are state-certified police officers and have the arrest and investigative capabilities of any other state-certified police officer, according to Lt. Tim Stump, UNMPD public information officer. The average police experience of a UNMPD officer is about 18 years, he said.

Erika Eddy is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @erika_eddy.