Meet the Chief
CMU's top cop talks safety, community partnership in an exclusive interview with Central Michigan Life
While students at Central Michigan University are busy with the start of school, and blowing off the necessary steam during breaks, Central Michigan University Police Chief Bill Yeagley is busy keeping them safe.
Yeagley, 58, is from Mount Clemens and spent 31 years at the Mount Pleasant Police Department before coming to CMU five years ago.
Central Michigan Life’s Dominick Mastrangelo recently sat down with Yeagley to discuss his past and his philosophies on enforcing the law and preventing crime.
Why did you decided to pursue a career in law enforcement? Did you ever think you would be a police chief some day?
I never had a clue I’d be a police chief. I had a psychology instructor in high school that had us take a test that was supposed to tell us what we would most likely be successful at. Soon after, a friend and I went out and did some really stupid things and silly stuff. The sergeant told us we could either do a 30-day ride along with him or he would file a report. It was at that point that I fell in love with police work.
What is the rewarding part of your job?
Watching people in the department grow is great. The other thing is getting to watch some of the positive changes in culture here at CMU. I get to be a part of preventing violent crime here on campus. That is really rewarding for me.
What are some of the daily struggles the department goes through that the community does not see but ultimately leads to a safer campus?
We need to make sure we provide everything our officers need to prevent and respond to crime here on campus. The key is really knowing which skill our department needs to use and when. That’s the challenge. It means constant vigilance for us.
How much responsibility falls on the campus community, instead of the CMUPD, to keep our campus safe?
The No. 1 factor in how safe an environment is, is the community itself. We go above and beyond here. Information will help people make good decisions and stay safe.
Many prospective students say CMU is the best option for them because it is “safe.” How much credit do you take for that?
CMU is very safe for a couple of reasons. When Dr. (George) Ross became President of CMU, he took me to lunch to tell me his expectations of the CMU Police Department. The president leaned across the lunch table, looked me in the eye and pointed his finger toward me saying, “Chief, keep the people of this campus safe.” He was serious.
How did your department make sure people stayed as safe as possible during Welcome Weekend 2014?
We have a long and strong relationship with the city. We have the exact same goals. We always look at the last few years and what criminal activity has been. This year it appears to me that we are getting a larger contingent of people from out of town who have come here to victimize our community. We will be strategizing on how to get them the special attention that you deserve.
How do you deal with those special cases?
For example, if there are folks who are affiliated with different gangs, they certainly have different things that they do to show the world they are a member of a gang. We should consider putting some teams together to try and identify those folks as they come to our community.
How often do you find yourself having fun on the job?
My version of fun might be different than others. I get a lot of satisfaction from watching other people excel. We have such great qualities in this department. It’s fun to give all of these people opportunities to grow and learn while doing a very important job in the process.
How does your department prepare for big campus events like football games or concerts?
We always analyze every event on an individual basis. The more we can control, the safer everyone will be. We’ll handle a Western Weekend differently than opening day. We spend a great deal of time planning and communicating to our staff how we can deal with these events.