POTSDAM -- SUNY Canton and SUNY Postsdam will soon share a University Police Chief.
The announcement followed a decision by Canton's current chief Lisa E. Colbert, to serve as an associate professor in the college's Department of Criminal Justice.
SUNY Potsdam's chief John Kaplan will fill Colbert's role effective Saturday, Jan. 19.
"Chief Colbert has done an exceptional job leading our University Police over the past year, but we respect her desire to return to the classroom," said SUNY Canton Interim President Carli C. Schiffner. "She is an exceptional instructor, and our students will benefit greatly, learning from her experiences in University Police and outside agencies."
"Since joining his alma mater in 2010, John Kaplan has proven himself to be a valuable asset for both campus and community. His years of service to the Village of Potsdam and now to SUNY Potsdam have prepared him well to work closely in collaboration with the force at SUNY Canton," SUNY Potsdam President Dr. John F. Schwaller said. "We would like to thank Chief Colbert at Canton for her hard work, as she and John discuss how both departments can work together over the coming months."
The University Police forces will soon conduct a comprehensive assessment of both departments' operations.
"Chief Kaplan and I will be working together to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities and services," said Colbert. "I will miss working on a daily basis with my fellow officers in University Police, but I truly look forward to returning to the classroom, rejoining the criminal justice department staff, and preparing students for successful careers."
"We are going to lead an in-depth analysis of what we do and how, looking at best practices at both universities as we collaborate. It is vital to get that input from the men and women on the front lines," Kaplan said. "This would allow for us to work on joint training, to share the special skills, abilities and expertise of our officers."
After a careful assessment, the UP departments will evaluate opportunities for sharing services.
As the two campuses have done in their conversations regarding shared services in areas like human resources and environmental health and safety, this study will also help identify ways that the forces can improve upon how they operate.
A member of the SUNY Potsdam Class of 1982, Kaplan served as a member of the Potsdam Village Police Department starting in 1986, going on to serve as chief for seven years, before joining SUNY Potsdam in 2010. The Potsdam Chamber of Commerce awarded him the 2011 Commitment to Community Award in recognition of his service to a number of local organizations.
"I look forward to serving both institutions, as the two University Police forces focus on their top priority -- protecting the students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors at SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton," Kaplan said.