chief's watch ending after 17 years
Haas took a chance when he named Mike Sheffield the director of
Police Department back in 1984. At that time, Sheffield, then
39, had just eight years of law enforcement experience and no
really important thing was, I believed he had the confidence of
the people he worked with, recalled Haas, then the Universitys
vice president for administration. The second thing was,
I perceived that he was the type of person who worked well with
our units and other people. And one could only look at him and
see that he was very bright and always appropriate in his representation
of the University, even as an officer.
years later, with Haas among a large crowd who turned out March
8 for a Carrs Hill reception in honor of Sheffields
retirement, the chief remembered.
really appreciated what Mr. Haas did for me, Sheffield said.
He took a risk by putting someone with very, very limited
administrative experience in that position.
also noticed he retired shortly afterward.
successors, Raymond Hunt and Leonard W. Sandridge, reaped all
the benefits from his gamble. As he steps down, Sheffield is being
hailed for his leadership of a department that has grown in size,
responsibility and reputation under his command.
evidence of Mikes leadership is in the quality of his department,
and of the women and men who serve in that department, said
Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer.
announced in August his intent to retire, with the hope of stepping
down by January. But he agreed to remain until a successor is
named, and now plans to stay on through graduation in May. After
that, his plans are unclear; at age 56, he feels he has more productive
years ahead of him, but intends to take at least a month off before
making any career moves, he said. As chief, he regularly works
seven days a week and puts in 14-hour weekdays.
like to see him relieve some of that stress. He needs time to
himself, some play time, said his wife, Sue Sheffield, who
joked that she will expect him to have dinner waiting and laundry
done when she returns home from her job as guidance director at
Monticello High School.
124 full time employees
69 police department personnel, including 59
sworn police officers
24 community service officers
31 Health Systems Security Department personnel
Annual budget: $4 million
Officers patrol the grounds on foot and using
cars, motorcycles, scooters and bicycles.
The Department has received four Governors
Awards for crime prevention.
Sheffield took over the police department in 1984, there were
71 employees and a $1.2 million budget. He will leave his successor
a force of 133, with a budget of $4 million.
growth in the department goes beyond mere numbers. The police
before Sheffield arrived had a reputation perhaps undeserved
as little more than a glorified campus security force,
of the things I really wanted was for us to develop into a well-respected,
professional department, he said. When I first started,
we were viewed as a training ground for other departments. Now,
weve started to have people from other departments wanting
to come here.
put a great emphasis on training and made himself an example.
His resume lists 16 different professional programs he has completed,
including finishing first in his class at the FBI National Academy
at Quantico (which is administered by the U.Va. School of Continuing
and Professional Studies).
tenure has also been marked by an emphasis on crime prevention.
He served as a crime prevention officer before becoming a captain
and then director his title was later changed to chief,
because people didnt know whether I was director of
a band or a police department, he joked and that
focus carried over into his leadership.
initiated the installation of additional lighting and video surveillance
cameras in parking areas. He brought in the use of computers to
process crime data and host a Silent Watch Web site
to report incidents. His department also took on management of
the previously student-run Escort Service.
department has also partnered with local, state and federal authorities
in several projects, including the March 1991 Operation
Equinox drug raids on several U.Va. fraternities, the interstate
probe into the thefts of several rare maps from Alderman Library,
and last falls breakup of a large ecstasy drug
ring. The University is a partner in the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement
task force and shares dispatch and communications operations with
the Charlottesville and Albemarle police departments.
all of the professionalization efforts, Sheffield has maintained
a family atmosphere inside his department, which he oversees with
friendly smiles and a folksy manner.
would have to say hes probably the best boss Ive ever
had, said Lt. Maryann Gritman, who works in records management
and training and has 17 years of service with the UPD. Hes
always there, his doors always open. I cant say enough
good things about him.
couldnt ask for a better boss, said officer Allen
Marshall, a former Facilities Management employee who joined the
force in June, but has known Sheffield for 20 years.
of Sheffields favorite challenges was to help plan for visiting
dignitaries. Where else can you find a little local guy
whos had an opportunity to meet as many important people
as I have? he said.
his tenure, he worked with outside agencies to arrange security
for several presidents, Queen Elizabeth II, former Soviet president
Mikhail Gorbachev, various entertainers and the 1998 gathering
of Nobel Peace laureates. The toughest event, he said, was the
1989 Education Summit, which brought then-President
George Bush, much of his Cabinet and many of the nations
governors onto Grounds. That event was totally disruptive
to the entire University for such a long time, Sheffield
said, since the VIPs stayed longer than the more common in-and-out
appearances, and there were more of them.
there were the unexpected events, including investigation of the
infamous baby-switch case at the University Medical
Center and, most memorably for Sheffield, the collapse of a Lawn
balcony during graduation in May 1997 that killed one visitor
and injured many others.
was very proud of my people, because of all the pre-planning.
You couldnt ask for a better textbook response, he
said. If you can have that kind of response to that kind
of incident in the middle of 25,000 people, and lots of them didnt
know it happened, thats pretty good.
has been a rock in times that seemed precarious, said University
President John T. Casteen III.
has also been a mainstay in calmer times, Sandridge said. Hes
much more than a police chief. Hes an important part of
the Universitys senior administration and a close personal
adviser to me on many issues. Certainly, his credibility is highly
respected by all the constituent groups within the University.
have been frustrations, too. The mysterious 1986 disappearance
of graduate student Patrick Collins from Jordan Hall a
case for which the department received much criticism from Collins
family remains unsolved. More broadly, student alcohol
abuse and its health, safety and criminal ramifications continue
to be problematic, he said.
very clear in our minds that a lot of alcohol issues start in
high school, or even earlier, he said. The key to addressing
them is to work with students, not to impose solutions
upon them and to remain vigilant even when things appear to be
think the critical thing is to continue the dialogue and communication,
he said. When we make a decision to do this program or that
one and we dont get input, then we run the risk of not being
the ups and downs, Sheffield says he looks forward to coming into
the office every day. The good things far outweigh the bad
things, he said.
years after Haas gamble, its clear that it paid off.
not at all difficult to salute Mike and thank Mike for what hes
done, Casteen said. Whats difficult is to replace