Joliet Junior College recently welcomed new Police Chief Brandon Campbell, filling a position that was first filled on an interim basis by Melvin Cornelius then by Duane Stonich. Campbell replaces former Chief Pete Comanda, who held the posiiton for 17 years before retiring in June.
Campbell calls himself a “family man” who values “community, integrity, initiative, inclusiveness, and pride.”
“I love to do anything outdoors like hiking, biking, or anything else that gets me out of the house. I’m big on humor and will share a laugh with anyone,” Campbell said.
The main focus of Campbell’s as Chief of Police is wanting to “aid in any way [he] can to set the students up for absolute success.”
“That success can be through mentorship, conversations, or serving in any other way we are needed,” Campbell said.
This position is Campbell’s first as Police Chief. Previously he has worked in law enforcement as being assigned to the FBI and serving as a member of SWAT. Campbell has also “served as Police Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant and Acting Chief.”
His duties at JJC will take more of an administrative turn. The bulk of Campbell’s responsibilities will require planning, directing, and coordinating Campus Police services and activities to ensure the maintenance of a safe campus.
“I think the best Chiefs separate themselves from their desk as much as they can and engage the people they serve. In that regard, being a municipal chief and a campus chief are more or less the same, it’s all about engagement,” Chief Campbell said.
However, COVID-19 has forced many students to remain remote throughout much of the fall semester. This environment has given Campbell the unique opportunity of learning a position that is new to him much quicker.
“Given that most people are remote, there are less calls for service that would otherwise require my attention,” Campbell said. “This has given me the opportunity to learn about my officers and support staff and has honestly given me a greater appreciation for what they do, and I must say they do a remarkable job.”
Assisting students has always been an on-campus job for officers, so the pandemic is forcing the department to look to Campbell for guidance on ways to handle such unusual times. He urges anyone who needs assistance to not hesitate to call.
“We are inquiring about more listening sessions and student engagement initiatives that we can join so that we can ensure there is a connection between the campus police and campus community,” Chief Campbell said.
The police department on campus has been organizing fundraisers throughout the year, despite the threat of COVID changing organizational plans.
In October, they raised $600 for the Pink Heals Joliet Chapter during breast cancer awareness month, despite having to cancel their Spaghetti Dinner and Cop on a Rooftop events for Special Olympics.
“We have a great group of officers, CSO’s, and support staff that really take initiative on community fundraising,” Campbell said.
“I believe our department loves these fundraisers because of the unique opportunity it gives us to help our community outside of an enforcement role,” Leanne Schloesser, Campus Safety Officer, said. “Being able to create positive interactions and affect change in our community from the servant side of law-enforcement gives us a sense of pride, and a renewed commitment to making our community a place where people feel safe and valued.”
Throughout November, the department organized a “No-Shave November” where participants donate a minimum amount either to grow out their hair or put a streak of color into their hair.
“Both are outside of our uniform regulations for employees, so it acts as an extra incentive to donate to the cause,” Schloesser said.
Proceeds for November’s fundraiser are still being counted and will be donated to a JJC-focused cause voted upon by the department. There are plans to extend “No-Shave November” into “Don’t Shave December.”
“The way this will work is that employees who intend to continue to keep their facial hair or streak of color will donate the minimum amount again,” Schloesser said. “Donations beyond the minimum and from anyone who would like to support the cause are also accepted.”
Funds from December will go towards JJC’s “Shop with a Cop.”
“This year, participants for Shop with a Cop are going to be recommended to our department through the Project Achieve/Trio office. We then plan to arrange our Shop with a Cop however the current state guidelines will allow,” Schloesser said.
Traditionally, the event would have an officer meet their assigned child for a luncheon either before or after shopping for items within a price range of $100 at a local store. For this December, they “plan to forgo the luncheon and transportation portions and follow current social distancing guidelines,” according to Schloesser.
“We REALLY get into these events because we love connecting with people. From marketing, media, print services, the cafeteria, facility services, and more- everyone helps to make some of these events possible,” Schloesser said. “They really bring the community together in multiple ways that are fun and fulfilling.”