McNeese police chief named Outstanding Staff Member for University of Louisiana system
William Scheufens, McNeese University Police Department chief of police, was recently recognized as Outstanding Staff Member of the year within the University of Louisiana System. Scheufens was selected out of the system’s 10,000 faculty and staff members across nine campuses.
Chris Thomas, MSU vice president for student affairs, nominated Scheufens for his campus leadership prior to, during and after Hurricanes Laura and Delta. “From coordinating with local agencies to working side by side with thousands of National Guard troops, Chief Scheufens remained committed to safety and an urgency to restore our campus,” he said in a news release.
Daryl Burckel, MSU president agreed, saying, “Chief Scheufens is a leader with a vision and he and his staff are dedicated to McNeese and the well-being and safety of our students, faculty and staff.”
Drawing on his time with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, Scheufens used his experience of responding to the campus’ needs post Hurricane Rita and then shared that information with his staff, many of whom were only children when the last major hurricane devastated the area.
“We (staff) sat down prior to (Hurricane Laura) and we talked about what we remembered from Rita. I had the opportunity to come on the campus immediately following Rita so I saw a lot of stuff on the outside.”
Now, on the inside of McNeese’s leadership, Scheufens directed his team to the university’s emergency preparedness plan which required the department to clear and secure all buildings. “We can’t have anyone enter them or get locked inside of them.”
Working with the university’s facilities director, Scheufens then identified Farrar Hall as the most secure building to temporarily house the department as it began monitoring conditions of the storms.
“We basically lived there the night before. We got all our gear set up there and then hunkered down…About two in the morning, the roof came off.”
The department then moved its operations to the first floor, where it continued working while dealing with “quite a bit of water intrusion.”
With Farrar Hall compromised, the department had to move its headquarters a second time for Hurricane Delta into the Smith Hall which had sustained minimal damage from Laura.
With nearly 40 years of law enforcement experience, Scheufens said his staff keeps him motivated to lead. “Seeing them step up and doing the tasks…They were phenomenal and they never complained. People like that, that’s the reason I get up in morning.”
In addition to completing their assigned tasks in the emergency preparedness plan, officers also attended to the personal needs of McNeese family. “They identified one of our retired professors that lives just a few blocks off campus and he’s up in age. They made sure he had food and water. They checked on him daily. It may have been hot and miserable, but to say, ‘They’re not going to do something?’ They never did.”
Seven months post-hurricane and over a year past the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, life is beginning to get back to normal for the police department. “We’re going back to a lot of our prior to COVID and hurricane interactions with students — sporting events and such,” he said.
The administration is also moving forward with plans to relocate the department from its Ryan Street location to an on campus location in the site of the old infirmary. “That puts us in the center of campus. The center of what is the housing area. It’s easy access and a lot closer to respond.”
Campus police should be re-located for the start of the fall semester or shortly after, he said.
McNeese State University Chief of Police William Scheufens, center, receives the Outstanding Staff member award from Jim Henderson University of Louisiana System president and CEO, while McNeese President Daryl Burckel, right, looks on.