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Monday, May 29, 2017
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McNeese State University Police Chief Robert Spinks. (Special to the American Press)

McNeese State University Police Chief Robert Spinks. (Special to the American Press)

New McNeese police chief wants to make campus safest in country

Last Modified: Saturday, October 13, 2012 8:14 PM

By Ashley Withers / American Press

McNeese State University’s new police chief started the job last month with one major goal in mind — “to make McNeese the safest university in the United States.”

Robert Spinks, whose first day was Sept. 19, said he has “hit the ground running, but listening” to those around him to make sure that goal is achieved.

He said his first step was to assess his staff and the level of service they’re providing. He said things are running well, but he hopes to make the McNeese police force more visible on and around campus.

Spinks will also lead the police department in creating a strategic plan that aligns with McNeese President Philip Williams’ university-wide plan.

“There are strategic plans that are great on paper but just sit around and collect dust, and there are strategic plans that you live by. We want to live by our strategic plan,” Spinks said. “It’s important to let the administration know what our plans are, and it’s equally important to let my staff know where we’re going.”

Spinks said he is excited to share what he has learned from his experiences in the field with the McNeese community. Prior to coming to the school, Spinks said he had a “very non-traditional policing career.”

His 30-year career kicked off when Spinks became an officer in Eugene, Ore., while attending college at the University of Oregon. He then moved on to several other cities in Oregon and Washington and even served a stint in the Union Pacific Railroad Police Department.

Though his list of professional credentials is impressive, Spinks actually got his start in the field as a teenager.

“When I was 13, my mother was afraid I would discover girls. My family had a house in Seaside, Ore., where I got to spend my summers. I’ve got to admit, I was really looking forward to discovering girls that summer, but my mother told me that if I was going to stay there all summer I was going to get a job or volunteer somewhere. That was not in my plans at 13,” Spinks said.

“I took my resume down to city hall in Seaside. I was told they didn’t have anything at city hall, but they had a new police chief with a police cadet program. By the end of the day I was a new police cadet. From age 13 on, I’ve been a cadet, a reserve, an officer, and everything in between up to police chief.”

Spinks has served as a police chief three times prior to coming to McNeese, but said he was looking for something a little different this time around.

“I had kind of taken a step back because I’m still young enough to where I’ve got some time in my career. I’ve watched other chiefs get into a rut and not necessarily continue to challenge themselves. So I was thinking, what do I want to do for a capstone for my career,” Spinks said.

“I started looking at university policing where I could meld some of the things I really like about policing and law enforcement. It just seemed like a natural movement.”

Spinks was a finalist for five different university police chief positions across the country, but he eventually decided to take the job at McNeese — a decision in which he takes pride.

“McNeese has a very homey feel to it. It’s very comfortable. People are exceedingly nice — on campus and off. The students are incredibly polite and that was all a real breath of fresh air,” Spinks said.

“I see here an incredible amount of opportunity for this police department.”

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