Jackson State University’s new police chief has a set of initiatives he’s rolling out during the spring semester to ensure the campus remains safe and secure.
Police Chief Thomas Albright, 49, officially became JSU’s top law officer on Jan. 1. Albright has served as interim chief at the Department of Public Safety since April 1, 2012. But he’s been a fixture on the campus for 22 years, rising through the ranks from patrolman to chief.
As students return, they’ll immediately notice one of Albright’s first changes: the enforcement of a requirement that all faculty, staff and students wear the university’s photo identification badge while on campus.
“That’s a mechanism we have in place to keep those off the premises who don’t belong on campus and might cause trouble,” Albright said.
Albright also recently made it mandatory that visitors to the H. P. Jacobs Administration Building sign in and out. Over the next few months, he hopes to complete plans for a campus police bike patrol. Currently, most of the department’s officers patrol on foot or in vehicles.
Albright said he’s also working the Student Government Association to create the “Tiger Patrol,” a team of students designated to alert authorities about unlawful activity inside the dormitories.
“We want to get student leadership in the dormitories. We want to get students back involved. Students have a tendency to share with each other, rather than police,” Albright said, explaining that the patrol might acquire information officers couldn’t access immediately.
A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Albright graduated from Jackson State University in December 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in professional interdisciplinary studies. He said a career in law enforcement wasn’t always on his radar. However, his brother was a police officer in Philadelphia, and Albright considered him a role model.
Albright’s department has 75 employees, including contract security. In addition to providing surveillance and protection, they also educate the students and staff through crime prevention programs. Albright said he’d like to reach more students through the workshops that are often presented in dormitories. He said instructors can request the presentations in their classrooms, as well.
“My command staff does a great job to give me the flexibility to do the things I need to do. We’re constantly striving to improve safety,” Albright said.
Their efforts have paid off. Officer Stephanie Thomas, the director of the crime prevention programs, said the annual campus crime statistics report that will soon be released publicly shows a decrease in criminal activity.
She said the department will use the data to create maps to identify any areas that require increased police visibility.
“Our goal is zero crime,” Thomas said. “We want JSU to be a place where students, faculty and staff can come here and focus on their goals.”
Thomas said Albright’s leadership has made the department a cohesive unit. She said he sets an example that everyone strives to emulate.
“When something gets reported, he’s on top of it immediately. He doesn’t procrastinate,” Thomas said. “And, he’s fair.”
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About Jackson State University: Challenging Minds, Changing Lives
Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of the state of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, health-care, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in the Jackson metropolitan area, Jackson State is located near downtown, with three satellite campuses throughout the city. For more information, visit www.jsums.edu.