University Police Chief Paul Denton is expected to retire after a career of police service that has spanned 37 years.
Ohio State announced Thursday that Denton will retire on Tuesday, ending his nearly decade-long run in the rank at OSU.
“This is a remarkable place. The people that I have worked with, here, are exceptional. So, having this opportunity has really been the highlight of my career,” Denton said.
Denton, who accepted the position at OSU in 2006, said the timing seemed right for retirement, both professionally and personally, after consulting with his wife, Jane, who also retired this month.
“You look forward to those stages in your life and those things come about, so it’s with mixed emotion to some degree, but looking forward, it’s really an exciting time,” he said.
Craig Stone, who assumed the position of deputy police chief in May, is set to take over as police chief, according to a Thursday release by OSU.
“I am excited about the opportunity to serve as acting police chief for The Ohio State University, Department of Public Safety, University Police Division. Chief Denton has been a great mentor and leader for the Division and for me,” Stone said in an email. “I look forward to leading the men and women of the Division based upon our mission, vision, and values, and continuing to maintain relationships with internal and external stakeholders to keep the campus community safe.”
Denton’s interest in community safety and service came to him as a student, after enrolling in a criminal justice course at Youngstown State University. From YSU, he received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in 1976.
“I was just taking a class, as an undergrad, and exploring different topics, like many students do,” he said. “I landed in an intro to criminal justice class, and said, ‘Wow, this is something I want to learn more about.’”
He went on to earn a Master of Business Administration from Xavier University in 1989, and later earned a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Tiffin University.
“I decided to study criminal justice and law enforcement, so it started as academic interest,” he said. “I never had any roots or ties or legacy or contacts in policing. So, this was a chosen career path and it’s been a wonderful one.”
After Youngstown, Denton enrolled in basic police academy at Columbus Division of Police, joining the force in 1978.
In his 28 years at Columbus Police, he reached the rank of commander, commanded the department’s Detective Bureau and was even assigned to some of the neighborhoods adjacent to the campus he would later police at OSU.
“I don’t think so,” Denton said to the idea of leaving Columbus Police for any other division outside of OSU. “This was one that drew me and caused me to retire from Columbus.”
Denton said one of his main objectives starting at the university was to attain professional recognition for University Police. The division was accredited by the Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in 2013.
“I think we did accomplish that with our accreditation award,” he said. “The next challenge will be maintaining that accreditation, and that’s a process that is rigorous. It makes sure that the agency is following nationally recognized and best practices that have recognized policies.”
Denton has also earned Certified Law Enforcement Executive, as well as Police Executive Leadership College certifications by the Law Enforcement Foundation & Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.
During his time at OSU, Denton shifted the division’s policing approach to focus on crime analysis and problem-oriented approaches to public safety.
He said maintaining the public safety of OSU’s community is a challenge in terms of campus security, given the university’s size, complexity and spatial spread.
“Having worked both in municipal policing and campus policing, and networking and meeting my peers across the country, this is indeed a very challenging and demanding job,” he said.
Denton said he learned early on the motto of Assistant Vice President and Director of Public Safety Vernon Baisden: communication, collaboration and cooperation, and implementing that approach to engagement has helped facilitate the police’s relationship with the community.
“When you look at occurrences across the country and the relationships between police agencies and their communities, the relationship we have, here, is one that’s positive,” he said. “And we try to model with our new officers with ourselves, so that’s critically important as well.”
He said the mission statement for the University Police is to serve the campus community in a way that upholds the principles of education.
“We see that every contact that we have with a community member, and particularly students, becomes a learning opportunity,” he said. “These are future leaders of society, future professionals in many, many fields and the fact that we can have a positive contact, even in an enforcement role, that really can set the tone for individuals’ perceptions of policing and the police profession for their entire life.”
Denton has served as a consultant to the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police Advisory Services, was a member of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission and attended the 194th session of the FBI National Academy.
In 2014, he served on the U.S. Department of Education’s Violence against Women Act Negotiated Rulemaking Committee to discuss the regulations and changes to the Clery Act by VAWA.
Denton will receive the Distinguished Leadership Award at the 2015 National Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibition early this July in recognition of his contribution to sports safety and security.
Denton said attending the event in Orlando, Fla., and spending some time with his family wasn’t a bad way to kick off retirement.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t give credit to my wife and family. When you go into this business, it’s a career choice and you can’t do it without their support,” he said. “We’ve been married nearly 40 years and she sacrificed as much as I did, in many ways.”
Denton added that he is confident in the University Police’s position moving forward.
“I think it’s in good hands, certainly with Deputy Chief Stone and whatever plans Director Baisden has beyond that. It’s solid,” Denton said. “Hiring practices, promotional practices and the accreditation standards all establish it for a good transition point.”