The University Record, July 6 , 1999

ASU’s Bess to head Department of Public Safety

By Jane R. Elgass

William R. Bess, director of public safety at Arizona State University since 1989, has been appointed director of public safety at the U-M. His appointment, effective July 26, was announced June 24.

As head of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), Bess will plan and direct the crime prevention, law enforcement, and safety and security services of the University. He succeeds Leo J. Heatley, who retired at the end of March after having been with DPS since 1985.

“Bill has had a long career in collegiate safety and security and is nationally recognized in the field of campus safety and security,” said Henry D. Baier, associate vice president for facilities and operations, in announcing the appointment. “Moreover, we feel his background in education will be an asset as he works with the University community.”

Bess was attracted to the U-M post because of the University’s “well-deserved reputation for excellence. The department itself has a reputation for quality service, and there is strong interest in becoming even better. I am looking forward to learning more about the community’s expectations and working with the staff to develop programs that involve the community more and respond even better to it expectations. It’s a wonderful setting with many cultural and learning opportunities. The University is a microcosm of society and I appreciate the opportunity to serve it and to play a part in it.”

Campus law enforcement captured his interest “because the performance expectations are higher. It’s a very special area. I’m a firm believer that public safety is everyone’s responsibility, and I look forward to working with the members of the University and surrounding community.”

Bess said Arizona State’s setting is similar to that of the U-M, with several exceptions. Here he will be both director and chief. At Arizona State, the chief reports to him. Arizona State does not have a hospital, and has only 5,000 students living on campus.

At Arizona State, Bess oversees police services, parking and transit services, and emergency management. Prior to joining Arizona State, he was executive director of management services and director of public safety at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) for 12 years. He also held a joint appointment as assistant professor of criminal justice at BGSU. Prior to that he worked with Kent State University’s police department.

Bess holds a B.S. in education from Kent State and a master’s in education from Bowling Green. He also has graduated from the FBI National Academy, U.S. Secret Service Protection Program and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar.

He is a certified peace officer in Arizona, and he was a certified police officer and instructor and a certified secondary education teacher (English and speech) in Ohio.

About DPS

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) became a full-service police agency in January 1991. It is charged with providing law enforcement and security services for a community that has more than 220 buildings; 37,000 students, 11,000 of whom live on campus; and 22,700 faculty and staff members.

DPS has an authorized staff of 33 police officers, 17 non-sworn public safety officers and five dispatchers, as well as supervisors, administrators, investigators and support staff. Hospital Security and Housing Security handle the security needs of the Medical Center and University Housing, respectively.

All divisions of DPS operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Annually, officers respond to approximately 72,000 calls for assistance, an average of almost 200 calls per day.