The recently hired University Police Department chief, Tim Potts, began his first week of work on campus Monday.
Potts only recently moved to Oxford from a position with the police department at Purdue University, where he was a captain for 13 years. Potts said several of the positions in which he has previously served readied him to be chief.
“I really have a wide breadth of experience,” Potts said. “If you throw all of that together, I think it’s really positioned me to take this step.”
As chief, Potts said he hopes to focus on crime prevention efforts.
“I think Ole Miss is always seen as one of the safest campuses, but I think people can get complacent because it’s been so safe,” Potts said. “After events, it’s easy to put stuff out. We want to be on the forefront. We want to try to take away that opportunity to become a victim.”
Part of this effort will resemble a neighborhood watch program, Potts said, which will include students in a “see something, say something” capacity. This initiative would specifically target areas where vehicles are more likely to get vandalized or where there are more thefts.
Potts said he also wanted to increase awareness for different issues through classes and seminars for students.
“Those are some of the things that we can do on campus that work well in a city but we need to bring them to a campus community,” Potts said.
Potts said he wants to see the department work more closely with the students and the surrounding community.
“I think we’ve got a great department and a great crime prevention unit already,” Potts said. “I think we can make some tweaks and work with the students and the campus closer. We need to be good neighbors to Oxford.”
This is not his first foray into Mississippi, Potts said, but it’s close.
Potts said he originally applied to be police chief at Mississippi State but because his daughter, Hayley, was in her senior year of high school, decided not to take it.
“(It was) a very difficult decision to make personally, but a very easy decision to make personally,” Potts said. “I didn’t want to miss out. I never regretted it.”
Potts said he later joked that, if he was meant to be police chief, he would get another opportunity. Last semester, Potts was contacted about the position at Ole Miss. Potts said Hayley will be joining Ole Miss in the fall of 2016, after attending junior college in Indiana.
Though there are lots of changes ahead, Potts said he is excited to learn about Oxford.
“I know I’ve got my work cut out for me,” Potts said. “I need to learn about the traditions and the campus and the city.”
Potts said being able to speak with students and families was a great part of his first day on the job.
“It was exciting to see the student orientation as I left the Lyceum,” Potts said. “That’s why we’re here. There wouldn’t be a police department if there wasn’t a student population.”