Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Archbald to guide UMPD through transition phase

Courtesy UMass Media Relations
Courtesy UMass Media Relations

Patrick Archbald, who previously served as the deputy chief of the University of Massachusetts Police Department, was selected in February to serve as the interim police chief after Chief Johnny Whitehead accepted a post at Rice University.

However, Archbald has no intention of getting comfortable in his new office.

“I enjoy the challenge [of the job], and I look forward to it at the right time for myself and my family,” said Archbald.  “I have some personal reasons [for not wanting the job permanently yet], one of them happens to be my father who is an elderly parent and my son who is getting ready for college.”

At this point in his life, Archbald, who has been with the police department since 1987, wants to spend time with his son and family; at the end of the day, the chief position “is still just work.”

According to Archbald, the role of chief involves a lot of meetings and delegating of tasks. It is less hands-on than the deputy chief position, as the chief spends more time talking with administrators about the presentation of the University and the budget than with the officers.

“As the chief, you are now giving more direction to the deputy chief to make sure that things the patrolmen need get taken care of and working more with the University,” he said.

He did state that he might eventually apply for the job of police chief.

“It is something I might be interested in later on but I think right now it would be to the detriment of my family,” he said.

Archbald started working at UMass as a part-time officer after graduating from Springfield College. The department was smaller then, but he remembers it as an exciting time his career.

“The excitement as a patrolman was not knowing what your night was going to be like,” he said. “When we deal with people … most often you are dealing with them in a crisis situation or let’s just say a difficult situation whether it is a sprained ankle or a bad motor vehicle accident or a domestic thing where someone had too much to drink.”

“We treat those situations,” he continued. “That’s an opportunity. That’s a chance. It’s an educational opportunity for the student to learn something about themselves.”

Like many police officers, Archbald pursued the career to help people in crisis situations and make better decisions.

“It is a great opportunity, like a teacher, to put yourself in the middle of situations where you can help other people to get help and to get better,” Archbald said.

Archbald said that he understands that college students are at a point in their life where they are going to “make mistakes, take risks and try new things,” and that he hopes that he can help them through it.

“I made mistakes in college and there are things that I regret that I did and there were people that directed me in the right way,” he said.

Now, he hopes to be one of the people doing the correcting.

Archbald continued to explain that as an officer, the interactions that he has with people are often memorable ones. For example, while he might not remember giving someone a speeding ticket, “the person who is at the wheel is going to remember that traffic stop 20 or 30 years from now.”

Therefore, he views each of those situations as an opportunity.

“There weren’t a lot of times where a student has come back to me and said ‘you dealt with me a couple years ago and you had a profound effect on me … thank you Officer Archbald,’ but that happened to me a few times,” he said.

Archbald was appointed to the position by James Sheehan, the vice chancellor for administration and finance. He will serve in the role for the duration of the search process for the new deputy chief, which Archbald expects to see completed by the start of the fall 2012 semester.

While Archbald is interim chief, Lt. Thomas O’Donnell, who has worked as UMPD since 1988, will serve as the interim deputy chief.

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected].

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