It’s a Shared Mission for NOVA’s Police Chief

Dan Dusseau credits his officers and a supportive administration at Northern Virginia Community College for his being named Higher Education Campus Safety Director of the Year.

“I was able to read all of the reports from A to Z,” says Dusseau. “We are able to deploy centralized resources.”

By reviewing the reports, the chief was able see trends in the types of calls the department was receiving. He says he was able to get a sense of what was going on at all of the campuses and prioritize his assets to achieve maximum effect.
In support of his centralization efforts, a state-of-the-art dispatch center was opened in January 2012, allowing police calls to be handled 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In its first full year of operation, dispatchers handled more than 44,000 calls, resulting in 17,710 service calls, according to NOVA statistics.

Flagler cites creating the dispatch center as one of Dusseau’s biggest accomplishment.

“That’s been a huge improvement, getting the six campuses on the dispatch system,” he says. “The police have new equipment and training and are interacting more.”

Improved Security Helps NOVA Attract More Students
Dusseau’s efforts have enjoyed great success, and the school’s crime statistics reflect the positive changes implemented by him. NOVA had an 80% reduction in reported crime from 2010 to 2012, the lowest number of incidents in the last 11 years. This success has had many positive effects. Department morale has soared, NOVA police are acknowledged by local police agencies as capable and respected partners, and NOVA’s reputation for safety has had a positive impact on enrollment. 

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Although Templin can’t pinpoint any one reason for why the system’s enrollment has expanded, he believes improved security has played an important role.

“Since Dan has been here, we have definitely had a safer campus, and we wouldn’t have that growth if we weren’t safe,” he says.

Another area in which Dusseau has excelled is community outreach.  One of the areas he stressed when he arrived on campus was to have his officers reach out to students and be available to them at all times, not just in instances where the police are involved.

“I don’t want NOVA officers all standing together at events,” Dusseau says. “I want them all talking to people and flipping burgers at events.”

In addition to attending events, Dusseau instituted outreach training programs, offering sessions such as dealing with difficult people, s
elf-defense, bystander intervention, dealing with bomb threats and active shooter response. There have also been training programs on drug and alcohol awareness, identity theft and safe driving. In 2013, NOVA officers conducted 185 outreach events and are on a path to well over 225 in 2014.

Reaching out to international students is also a priority for NOVA’s officers.

“We have a lot of international students, and many of them have not experienced positive relations with the police,” says Templin. “It’s very important [for them] to have a high level of confidence with the police.”

In support of its outreach effort, the department also produces a 6-8 page monthly newsletter to inform the campus community on public safety issues and available training.  The police have also upgraded their website to provide more safety information to students. Dusseau was one of the leading advocates on a committee to develop a mobile safety app to benefit college policing.

“All in all, the college community now sees we are not a bunch of disinterested cops,” says Weinstein. They see us as engaging, intelligent and dedicated professionals who are committed to keeping the campus safe for them.”

How He Got Here
Dusseau’s family experience was one of the key formative factors in his professional development and his people-first approach to policing. He had a great role-model. His father, Edgar “Duke” Dusseau, served 20 years as a Washington, D.C., Metro police officer, retiring in 1980 as a sergeant, and then served another 20 years as a police officer with the Library of Congress Police Department.

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