After seven years, UPD chief to retire

The University chief of police is taking his patrol somewhere else.

After 18 years of service at UAA, UPD Chief of Police Dale Pittman will be retiring.  In an e-mail addressed to the campus community, Bill Spindle, vice chancellor of administrative services, said that Pittman and his family will be moving to Bismark, North Dakota to serve as a special investigator for the North Dakota State Insurance Commission. After serving seven years as chief, Pittman’s last day will be Dec. 2.

Pittman, who recently became a grandfather, said the move is in order to be closer to family.

“I’m going to sorely miss the community at UAA,” Pittman said. “Everyone here are members of my family. It’s a heartfelt leave, hard on my heart.”

Lieutenant Rick Shell will serve as interim chief until a new one is hired. Spindle said that the University will conduct a nationwide search for the next chief. However, he added that anyone on the current police force is welcome to apply.

Pittman came to UAA when it was still in its Anchorage Community College days. He planned to become a lawyer, but became involved with law enforcement while looking for a summer job between semesters, eventually taking a position as a property-room cadet with the Anchorage Police Department. After doing ride-alongs with officers, he decided that being a lawyer was out and police work was for him.

He spent a year working for the federal prison system in California. After dealing with corrupt officers, Pittman came back to Alaska when he heard the University Police Department was hiring. There he started as a University Housing officer, then police sergeant, deputy chief and then to his current position as chief in 2002.

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During his tenure, Pittman has been instrumental in the development of the Campus Response Team, an organization that reacts to emergencies on campus. He also was key in implementing the new Burbee emergency notification system that uses the voice over IP phone system to alert campus of possible threats. It was effectively used for the first time in September, when a violent assault occurred in the woods between housing and Providence Drive.

Spindle said that Pittman has been invaluable in bringing a sense of “community policing” to the force.

“When you’re a policeman, there’s a lot of arresting criminals, but here [at UAA] you dealing more with the community,” Spindle said. “It’s more of dealing with the populace and dealing with everyday kind of things.”

He said that Pittman has made a focus on training his team to be more than just a “scary” policeman and to be on more of a first name basis with people.

“I don’t know a better trained, more level headed police officer,” Spindle said.

In late June, Pittman was one of three finalists selected for chief of police at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. The position went to former University of Northern Colorado police chief Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt. Pittman said that he had been looking for jobs out of state for the last six to nine months.