Caroline Ahearn, News Editor
Following her selection in early December, Shawn de Jong began her work as the new Chief of Public Safety at the College of the Holy Cross on January 2, 2018.
De Jong was chosen from a select number of candidates by a search committee made up of David Achenbach, Director of Human Resources; Denielle Burl, Chief Risk and Compliance Officer; Rev. William Campbell, S.J., Vice President for Mission; Jane Corr, Special Assistant to the President; Sean Kennedy, Interim Chief of Public Safety; Michele Murray, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students; Amit Taneja, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer; and Eve Wenger ’18.
Before coming to Holy Cross, de Jong held the position of Chief of Police at Springfield Technical Community College for six years, and prior to that she also worked as a Detective Sergeant at Boston College and a Detective at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
“I came here from a very different environment; a community college’s mission is very different,” said de Jong. “I wanted to get back into an educational environment where there was a different expectation of the student body, one that had a more rigorous curriculum so that I knew when I was engaging with the student that I was going to engage in a conversation where the student had a higher expectation of us as law enforcement.”
While her most recent position was at a community college, after her time at Boston College de Jong is no stranger to the environment of a Jesuit institution. Said de Jong, “I value not just the idea of ‘do unto others,’ but really also I value the intellectual aspect of the Jesuit tradition; that’s really meaningful to me. I try to bring that to the police departments where I work and to my officers, to help them engage in dialogue with me and out there on campus.”
Along with the recent move from Fenwick to the Field House, de Jong hopes that many other changes can be implemented as she works to accomplish her goals. “Long term goals, I’d like to have a police department that holds a larger presence in the community,” she said. “I don’t want to be seen as just the department that gives students rides because they have crutches. That’s not who we are, we have a responsibility to educate our community on who we are. What is it that a person has to do to wear a uniform and police on a college campus like Holy Cross? What are the standards? And as a department, how do we have a relationship with the community that is integrated and real and not superficial or just courteous.”
As for how to accomplish this, de Jong hopes to establish programs such as integrated training with Residence Life, activities with students, and liaisons with faculty and staff in academic buildings.
Another goal of de Jong’s is to eventually become an accredited law enforcement agency by Massachusetts standards. “That’s a process that is lengthy and complicated,” she said. “We’ll have to make some changes procedurally and a lot of standards would have to change, but it’s so we know that we are providing the best police services according to the best practices in the state.”
For now, however, as she is starting out in her new position on campus, Chief de Jong wants students to know that she is an open person, who tries to be as transparent as she can and who is eager to listen to any concerns.