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New SSU chief of police aims to enhance outreach and school safety

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
July 20, 2018

After a nationwide search Sonoma State University officials announced last week that David Dougherty, interim chief of police for the SSU Police Department, will take on the role of chief of police, a role in which Dougherty hopes to fulfill his goal of enhanced school safety and outreach.

Dougherty, who has a long history with University police and has been the active, interim chief for a little over a year was appointed by SSU President, Judy K. Sakaki.

Sakaki said in a statement of Dougherty’s appointment, “Dave is a highly qualified law enforcement professional who has served the University with distinction for 13 years.”

Dougherty, a Sonoma County native, said he is excited for the role and hopes to foster more connectivity and collaboration within the Seawolf community in an effort to create a safer campus environment.

“My goals include enhanced community outreach, police staff development and succession planning, supporting student success by providing a safe environment and leveraging the university police department’s student internship program to develop future leaders not only in law enforcement but also within the community,” Dougherty said.

His main goal though is to work with the community to continue to make it a safe and vibrant place to work, live and go to school.

2017’s Clery Crime Report of Sonoma State crime statistics for 2014-2016 cites a low amount of violent and petty crimes, save for the murder of a student in 2016 and the recent fatal stabbing of a man visiting an SSU dorm in May of this year.

To continue the work of making the campus safe, Dougherty says he will make use of partnerships with neighboring police agencies.

“We’ll continue to partner with other law enforcement agencies to work together to address concerns, collaborate to resolve mutual issues within our respective communities, share ideas and best practices and remain open to new ways of doing things,” Dougherty explained.

Dougherty first got a taste for police work when he started his training with POST, the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. The rigorous program takes participants through training in various areas of law enforcement. 

He said he initially became interested in a career in public safety due to family acquaintances, but didn’t always envision himself becoming a chief of police.

“I didn’t always envision serving as a police chief. I enjoy the law enforcement profession and I enjoyed the work of a police officer. I also enjoyed the additional responsibilities within the police department that came with serving positions of rank,” he noted. “I am honored to serve as a police chief and it is a wonderful opportunity. 

He says so far the most rewarding aspect of his career has been establishing relationships in the community and giving officers career opportunities within the department. Yet the most challenging moment so far for Dougherty has been working during the Sonoma County wildfires, which caused the campus to close for nine days.

Dougherty mentioned he is excited to continue to work alongside his professional law enforcement colleagues and SSU Officer, LeRoy Swicegood echoed his sentiment, saying he is thankful to be able to work with Dougherty.

“Chief Dougherty will succeed as chief because he leads by example with innovative ideas, integrity and care for both his community and his police department,” Swicegood said. “It has been a privilege to work alongside him.”