By Delaney Runge
In an email sent out to WC Current Students on Tuesday, Oct. 31, Director of Public Safety Chief Ryan Colman announced Keith Vanzant as the new Deputy Chief and Associate Director of Public Safety.
According to Colman’s email, “Keith has served with the Department of Public Safety in both a full- and part-time status for 15 years. Keith is an amazing asset to the Public Safety Command Staff and his vision is in line with our new mission for campus safety and community engagement.”
Vanzant’s 15 years of experience make him no stranger to the PS Department, and he also served as a patrol officer.
According to Vanzant, the associate director is in charge of the department’s reports. He must ensure that they are in order, as well as check the information, spelling, and grammar.
In addition to the reports that are vital to this role, Vanzant works with Chief Colman to carry out department goals and initiatives.
“[Colman] and I are trying to get this more operational as a police department,” Vanzant said. “[The department] started out as nightwatchmen, and then it went to security, then went to public safety. So, we’re trying to keep building on that.”
Moving to function more like a police department lies in the way that it will operate internally. This type of system allows for more ease keeping everyone within the department accountable.
Student Government Association President junior Miranda Parrish was a student representative on the interview panel to fill the position.
According to Parrish, his interview combined with his resume proved his familiarity with the campus location as well as its culture.
“He shared in his interviews that he has a similar, community service-driven value set to what Chief Colman has, and he also knows students well on campus,” Parrish said. “While he has worked here at Washington College for many years, he also has an impressive resume with related experience, including work with the state Fire Marshalls.”
Before working within Public Safety, Vanzant worked for the State Police Department where he worked on criminal investigations involving arson and explosives.
According to Vanzant, this role taught him investigation, people, and enforcement skills that he still uses today within his role in Public Safety.
“His experience [at WC] really was a big plus in the process for him, because we need it,” Colman said. “We need someone in that position that’s competent, confident knows what they’re doing, knows what to do, but also that’s willing to adapt to my vision and where we’re trying to go with the department.”
With Colman’s promotion to director over the summer, Public Safety has been working to create programs geared more towards community engagement.
“I am thrilled that we are able to fill this role, as many initiatives that Public Safety is hoping and planning to roll out are able to be started,” Parrish said. “While we have had turnover and various issues in the past several years, students have shared with SGA that they are much more comfortable and happier this year with the department.”
The department has seen many new initiatives this year such as the bike patrol. Additionally, the department held events for the students such as coffee and donuts and snow cone pop-up to help the campus community get to know the officers better.
Colman and Vanzant planned the most recent snow cone event together and they are hoping to do some kind of event for the College community each month.
“I’m here to try to help everybody get through four years here,” Vanzant said. “I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have.”