A candidate for UND’s chief of police said policing a campus means working to de-escalate situations and helping direct students to resources they may be in need of, such as mental health services.

Rodney Clark, one of four finalist candidates for UND’s chief of police and associate vice president of public safety, spoke at a forum on campus on Monday, July 19, and discussed his background and experience. Clark said issues related to mental health far exceed serious violent crimes on campuses, and officers need to be in the position to show students where to get help.

“I see a lot of a lot of university police in helping students is making contact with them and then being a bridge to other resources, to say ‘Hey did you know about this?’” Clark said.

When it comes to handling certain situations on campus, rallies or protests for example, Clark said his policy is to try to de-escalate, and not rely solely on the “hard edge of the law.” Dealing with a protest, he said, means having a presence not an overpresence.

“Give people their space,” he said.

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Clark presented to attendees of the forum, outlining his concerns of the issues campus police officers face, and called mental illness the “No. 1 issue.”

In response to a question from a member of the audience, Clark said officers need to do their duty and properly investigate sexual assault claims. To do that, they need to be aware of the signs of sexual assault, and need to work with campus resource partners to make sure instances are reported properly, but outcomes of those investigations revolve around the court system or university Title IX coordinators.

Clark is the chief of police at Wichita State University in Kansas. He leads a 44-person department and serves on various committees, including the veterans affairs and president’s diversity committee. Clark is also an adjunct faculty member in both the criminal justice and military science departments.

Clark spent 22 years in the U.S. military beginning with the Air Force, where he served as security policeman. After earning a commission he deployed to countries including Qatar and South Korea, where he served as a security commander. He transferred branches to the U.S. Army Military Police Corps in 2007, and commanded a law enforcement unit at Ft. Sill, Okla.

He finished his military service in New York, where he served as a military police officer at Ft. Drum, and an assistant professor of military science at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Candidate forums will be held on Wednesday and Thursday this week and again on Monday next week. They will be held in room seven of the Education building and can be viewed online on UND’s website.