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Q&A: Newly pinned Ohio State police chief talks career, police-community relations

Craig Stone's son pins a medal on his father during a ceremony for the newly minted chief of the Ohio State Division of Police. Stone became the chief of police in May, and the pinning ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 7.

Craig Stone’s son pins a medal on his father during a ceremony for the newly minted chief of the Ohio State Division of Police. Stone became the chief of police in May, and the pinning ceremony was held at Blankenship Hall on Tuesday, June 7. Credit: Courtesy of OSU Administration and Planning

After receiving a new job title in May, Craig Stone finally received his new badge this week.

A badge-pinning ceremony was held for Stone, chief of the Ohio State University Police Division, on Tuesday afternoon. Stone officially assumed the role of police chief on May 23.

Hired in May 2015 as deputy chief, Stone assumed the role of acting chief shortly after joining OSU when then-Chief Paul Denton retired that June.

Over email, Stone answered questions on his new job title and work over the past year. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

THE LANTERN: How does it feel to be officially the chief, both now that it’s your job title and now that you’ve been pinned?  

STONE: My mother has been asking me, “Now, are you chief or still acting chief?” It was nice to tell my mother that I am the official Ohio State University Chief of Police. It’s a great feeling and honor!

TL: How has your career fared at Ohio State after just over a year? Were you thinking you would have become chief so soon?  

CRAIG STONE: When I came to Ohio State as deputy chief, I had no idea that I would be the acting chief two months later and chief of police a year later. This has truly been a blessing. It is great to inherit an organization that has so many officers and civilians who are very professional and dedicated to the safety of the university.

TL: What has been the most challenging part of the job since you took the role of acting chief?  

CS: The most challenging part has been trying to wear (the) two hats (deputy chief and acting chief). Without a deputy chief, I have delegated some responsibilities to Captain Dave Rose and Captain Eric Whiteside. However, there are many tasks that need to be completed by the deputy chief or acting chief. Therefore, I have spent many long hours at work to accomplish the mission. The deputy chief position is currently posted online. When filled, it will be great to have someone who can assist me with carrying out the goals and mission for the organization.

TL: The most rewarding part?  

CS: The most rewarding part has been serving as the incident commander for the 2016 Spring Commencement. It was wonderful to see all of the proud families making their way to Ohio Stadium.

TL: How has your job at Ohio State differed from your previous work at Cleveland State, and from the city of Columbus?

CS: My career with the city of Columbus included assignments within the Columbus Division of Police in administration, homeland security, investigations and operations. This background gave me the experience to understand every division of the organization. I had a great experience serving as the director of campus safety and chief of police for Cleveland State University. I was responsible for police, security, students, dispatchers, support staff, emergency management and access control/security systems. At Ohio State I am responsible for police, civilian support staff and student safety services; however, the close working relationships with Student Life, Office of the Provost, Human Resources, Athletics and our local public safety partners is the same at both universities.  

TL: How did you adapt to different serving communities?  

CS: In order to be effective you must develop relationships with internal and external partners, and you must also be a good listener. Then you are able to problem-solve together and use resources and personnel to develop the level of customer service needed for the community. I enjoy working with people, so my experiences in Columbus and Cleveland have been very valuable and beneficial in my current position at Ohio State.

TL: Nationally, there seems to be tension between citizens and police. How do you feel relations are at Ohio State?

CS: Relationships between the citizens and OSUPD are great! We are very engaged with the community and have participated in many forums and dialogues sponsored by the Ohio State Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Undergraduate Student Life, and the Black Student Association. In addition, our officers have participated in community fairs in Central Ohio, Career Day at Columbus Metro School, University District Safety Committee and participated in a community forum held at the Indianola Church of Christ. This past year we assigned Officer Doug Cunningham as a liaison to the Korean (International) Student Association and Officer Scott Holbert to the Muslim Student Association. In addition, this Autumn Semester, we will be hosting our first Community Police Academy, which will be coordinated by Officer Cassie Shaffer. The CPA will be open to students, faculty and staff so that they can learn more about our officers, operations and continue to build relations and trust with the community we serve.

TL: What do you attribute to the rapport between police and students?  

CS: We have quite a few officers who are Ohio State and/or college graduates; therefore, they understand firsthand what it means to be a student. All of our officers are assigned to partner with specific residence halls, and I have encouraged officers to get out of their cruisers and walk or ride bikes in order to communicate with the students. Our goal is to help students be successful and help them get back on their feet if they happen to stumble.

TL: What are your goals as chief of police?

CS: My No. 1 priority continues to be the safety of our campus community. I am responsible for the morale of my employees and will continue to support them and provide resources and tools necessary for them to accomplish the goals and mission of the organization and university. I plan to be fiscally responsible and identify methods to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of operations. In addition, I look forward to continuing the meaningful partnerships our police division has with Ohio State’s students, faculty, staff and external stakeholders.

Stone does not yet have a performance review for The Lantern to examine, said Ohio State spokesman Justin Moss.

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