Staff Changes Lead to Success at NOVA

CS’ higher ed Director of the Year describes how he attracts quality recruits to his campus police department.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Chief of Police Dan Dusseau says bringing talented people to NOVA and developing the talents of the existing staff were top priorities when he took over the chief’s position. And, that’s one of the reasons he was named this year’s Campus Safety magazine higher ed Director of the Year.

The chief wants a staff that is constantly training to become better at their positions. But when he is recruiting officers, Dusseau also wants them to know and master all aspects of what the job entails. He says any officer who joins the NOVA department and is committed only to locking up bad guys, is going to be unhappy. He insists on a balanced approach, drawn from the protect-and-serve mantra.

“If they come here with a know-it-all attitude or that college policing is beneath them and they are going to show us how it is done, that is going to turn me off,” he says.

Dusseau has been able to increase the staff numbers from 45 sworn officers and two additional employees in 2009 to 52 sworn officers, seven dispatchers and 13 unarmed security officers, which is a combination of NOVA staff and outsourced security. Officers have received more than 5,000 in-house hours of training and almost 10,000 hours of academy training since January 2010. 

“The chief is a likable guy,” says NOVA Lt. John Weinstein. “As the department enjoys more success, it develops a reputation as a good department. No one wants to join a mediocre department. He has brought in people from the outside who are very good, and that helps in recruiting. We instruct at two local police academies, and that helps enhance the reputation of the department.”

Dusseau credits the college’s funding of and support for training for allowing him to attract top-ranking officers from the other departments, including one with a doctorate degree.

The chief says he spent time learning about his staff and what their talents were before deciding where to put them in his department structure.

“It is about knowing what they do best, and then empowering them to do their jobs,” he says.

Dusseau has also added EMTs and reinstated bike patrols.

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Tagged with: Officer Recruitment

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