Kimberly Spears McNatt is sworn in as Ohio State University Police Chief. Spears-McNatt is the first woman to hold the position.
Credit: Amal Saeed | Assistant Photo Editor

With her husband, Vince McNatt, and son, Collin, by her side to pin her police badge on during her swearing-in ceremony, there was one more person by Chief Kimberly Spears-McNatt’s side –– Scott Tipton, retired Ohio State police officer, who recruited Spears-McNatt to Ohio State as a police officer over 25 years ago.

With tears in her eyes, Spears-McNatt could only say two words, “Thank you,” as Tipton gave her a warm hug.

On Thursday, a public ceremony and reception was held at the Alumni Lounge of the Fawcett Center to swear Spears-McNatt as the first female police chief of the Ohio State University Police Division, and Tracy Hahn as the new deputy chief.

As Jay Kasey, senior vice president of the Office of Administration and Planning, introduced Spears-McNatt and Hahn, a crowd filled with law enforcement colleagues, prominent community members and important elected officials stood on their feet and erupted with cheers.

“These two women were hands-down the best candidates to assume their respective roles,” Monica Moll, director of public safety, said.

Serving the Ohio State community for nearly 25 years, Spears-McNatt emphasized what’s making her stay.

“This is my agency and I have the ability to work with law enforcement on a local, state and national level to get the job done,” Spears-McNatt said.

Spears-McNatt had been the interim police chief for the past six months since Craig Stone, the former chief, left the university to become executive director of public safety and chief of police at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Spears had been the deputy chief under Stone since August 2016.

Her vision for the Ohio State community coincides with President Michael Drake’s 2020 vision with the importance of community engagement and diversity and inclusion at the forefront. She said she wants to ensure Ohio State Police are recruiting officers able to represent the diverse community at the university.

One of Spears-McNatt’s most important goals in her new role is forming meaningful relationships with students.

“I want them to know me on a first-name basis, even if they see me walking across the campus, I want them to know me not just as Chief, but as Kimberly,” Spears-McNatt said.

She also praised her deputy chief’s years of experience, and the honor she has to partner with another first female chief of police — Hahn being the former chief of police for the Upper Arlington Police Division.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with Tracy Hahn, who is the first female and former chief of police of Upper Arlington,” Spears-McNatt said. “This is Tracy’s coming home story.”

After earning her undergraduate degree at Ohio State, Hahn went on to serve the Upper Arlington community for 25 years and said she was “psyched” to be coming home to Ohio State.

Hahn had previously worked for Ohio State Police in 1990 for three years before she joined the Upper Arlington Police Division. She was the division’s first female police chief before retiring on Sept. 22 and rejoining Ohio State in late October.

She also described the great partnership she sees between herself and Spears-McNatt.

“She and I both have so much law enforcement experience that we bring so much to the table and the two of us combined, we’re going to be unbeatable.” Hahn said.

Moll made some closing remarks on the extended qualifications of both officers.

“I know Kimberly and Tracy will both work very hard to make sure that that effort continues to ensure that our level of diversity reflects the community that we serve, so we can remain a progressive, innovative police agency.”