Op-Eds Opinion

Moving on After Police Chief Sullivan’s Resignation

Alex Thomas
Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Patrick Kenney.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Kenney.

It’s been about a week and a half since the student body here on campus received an email that confirmed a rumor that people began talking about merely hours before. Campus Police Chief Michael Sullivan was resigning to pursue another job opportunity. To many, this was an email that people read, said wow, and then closed out of, continuing their day.

Now that some time has passed, I want to touch on this a little bit. I know the paper and SCTV3 have already run news pieces on this, but I felt like it was important enough for an opinion piece. You see, Chief Sullivan has been a major part of this campus during his tenure here, and along with President Cooper, has made this school a much safer place in the mind of myself and in the minds of many students on campus.

One of the bigger things that separated Chief Sullivan from others was how much he cared and how much time and effort he put into making this campus a better and safer place. We’ve seen so many great ideas get implemented during his tenure, and I’m sure we will see more before the book closes on his chapter running the Public Safety department.

I’ll never forget my freshman year here on campus. I’d go to Patriots games pretty often so my father would come pick me up a few times each semester so I could return home and go with him on Sunday. One of the things he asked me many times was “Alex, why are there no foot patrols on campus, I feel like the police presence is understated and almost non-existent.” This was coming from a guy who worked as a police officer for years on college campuses, from a guy who played a pretty big role on a few departments that ran schools in big cities like Boston.

When Chief Sullivan took over my sophomore year, that all began to change. The presence became more existent and continues to grow to this day. To me, that’s a massive step forward that we should all thank him for. I also remember the debate on campus about arming the department. Obviously, a large chunk of the heavy lifting was done by President Cooper, but it was Chief Sullivan who, from a police standpoint, pretty much oversaw the beginning stages of that and the adaption from being unarmed to being armed. To me, that was the biggest step taken during Chief’s tenure, and it’s one that most students would agree was needed.

Another massive thing is how open he is and how open the department has become in these last two years. As a prime example, I just filled out an email survey that all students received prior to writing this about my thoughts on some of the questions Public Safety has for students. This relationship between the SGA and the Public Safety department is quite strong when looking at it from the outside, and I don’t remember that in the past.

Let’s put all the great stuff aside and talk about the guy himself for a second here. I worked with Chief Sullivan once last year for a piece on SCTV3 and he was beyond helpful, it was actually refreshing and it caught me off guard. He was nice, more than willing to talk and was quite interested in the situation which the piece focused on. I’ve seen him a handful of times over these years and he’s always been approachable and always had a smile on his face. It might seem like a minor thing, but it really does go a long way, especially from someone so important to this campus.

It was a short tenure, but Chief Sullivan’s run here on campus will certainly be felt for a long time in a positive way. While he’s not yet gone, I felt like this was a good time to write about this and I hope others will thank him in his final stretch here. Best of luck in your next position and thanks for everything, Chief.

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