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Harris Named New Chief of ODU Police Department

Rhonda L. Harris, a public safety professional with more than 25 years' experience and currently chief of police at Rutgers University New Brunswick, has been selected as Old Dominion University's new police chief, announced Chief Operating Officer David F. Harnage. Harris will begin Feb. 13.

"Chief Harris possesses a wealth of metropolitan university policing experience, which will enable her to hit the ground running at Old Dominion University," Harnage said. "Her strong leadership skills, knowledge of the intricacies of campus safety, and successful collaborations with municipal colleagues will provide a strong cornerstone for ODU's continual efforts to enhance campus safety."

According to ODU President John R. Broderick, Harris' experience and commitment to a community policing philosophy made her a clear choice to lead ODU's safety and security division.

"The role of police chief at a metropolitan research university requires a distinctive set of skills and abilities to handle its unique challenges and promote its opportunities. Chief Harris has a proven track record of success and I know the city and ODU community join me in welcoming her," he said.

As director of public safety and chief of police, Harris will oversee a campus safety force of nearly 130 police officers, security guards and civilian personnel. Public safety services include emergency response, crime prevention programs, 24-hour campus-wide patrols and safety escort services. Additionally, she will be responsible for directing the university's emergency preparedness and response operations.

"It's a great time to be joining Old Dominion University," noted Harris. "The university is growing and seeking to expand its impact in the local community, as well as in the broader arena of academia.

"I was impressed by the level of enthusiasm for the institution and the camaraderie displayed by the ODU community."

Since 2006, Harris has served as chief of police at Rutgers University New Brunswick, the flagship campus of the State University of New Jersey, which is comprised of more than 42,000 students on 5 individual campuses within the main campus. There, she supervises a team of more than 100 police officers and civilian staff and works jointly with more than 6 municipal police departments with jurisdictions around the campuses.

She joined the Rutgers police department in 1989 as a police officer and was promoted to sergeant and lieutenant before being appointed chief. She began her career in law enforcement in 1985 as a police officer in El Reno, Okla.

Harris earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in public administration from Rutgers, and a master's degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College.

She has attended numerous law enforcement professional development programs, including the FBI's National Academy, Advanced Criminal Investigation, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and Police Management training programs. Additionally, she is active in several professional organizations, including the New Jersey College and University Public Safety Association and the Middlesex County Police Chiefs Association, of which she serves as president and recording secretary, respectively.

Harris replaces Chief Rudolph Burwell, who retired in June after a 40-year law enforcement career. George Votava has been serving as interim chief of police.

"I want to thank Interim Chief Votava for his leadership and dedication over the past six months," Harnage said.

"I would also like to thank search committee chair September Sanderlin and the members of the committee for their work, as well as colleagues from the City of Norfolk, local community members, the ODU police force and Old Dominion students, faculty and staff, who met with the candidates and participated in the open forums."

This article was posted on: January 5, 2012

Old Dominion University
Office of University Relations

Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.