SUNY Geneseo hires interim Police Chief, short term plans in place

Geneseo students and faculty have welcomed Thomas Kilcullen, the interim chief of the University Police, to the community. After three years of service, former Chief of Police Sal Simonetti resigned for a promotional opportunity elsewhere. State University of New York Police Commissioner Bruce McBride contacted Kilcullen regarding the need for a replacement in December 2013. He arrived Jan. 13 to officially begin his new position.

Kilcullen previously worked at SUNY Albany as deputy chief of police. He has over 30 years of police service experience and has already made a positive impact on the community, according to Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio.

“We are pleased that [Kilcullen] has assumed the leadership of our college police force. [Kilcullen] is well known as a leader for his work in SUNY, and has introduced several initiatives that have become model practices on campuses across the state. He is a welcome addition to the Geneseo University Police Department,” Bonfiglio said.

“I was very impressed with the people within the department and the people I’ve met on campus,” Kilcullen said. “The community is engaged. A lot of the bridges are already emplaced here. A lot has been done over time to forge these relationships. It’s the police and the community working together to problem solve.”

Speaking about his time at SUNY Albany, Kilcullen mentioned the importance of “community policing,” which is using both powers of the community and the department to keep the area as safe and comfortable as possible. Albany was recognized twice nationally for these policing techniques.

According to Kilcullen, service is the most important requirement his job entails.

“It’s all service-oriented. You need to focus on the service aspect. No more than 5 percent is enforcement.”

Kilcullen wants to ensure that the rest of the organization carries out this vision.

“I think the University Police have a strong presence on campus,” Allegany Hall Senior Resident Assistant junior Nicholas Damiani said. “They’re always looking out for students; they’re very accessible. If I ever have a problem at the hall, they’re quick to respond.”

“You need to be able to be in as many places as you can as often as you can,” Kilcullen said. “Ultimately, presence equals impact.”

Most of the chief’s responsibilities include strategic planning, setting goals for the department, oversight of administration and operations.

“When setting goals, you want to make sure they’re tangible as to some of the initiatives that are already in place.” Kilcullen refers to programming, community outreach and working with RAs and resident directors.

While Kilcullen is in Geneseo as an interim chief, he could consider resubmitting his application once the search for a permanent chief begins. Typically the tenure for this position only lasts an average of three to five years before resignation.

Right now the department is looking at short-term planning, looking at possible changes to implement for the spring semester. Six to seven months from now, the Department of Criminal Justice Services should evaluate the campus police department to administer the Police Accreditation Program. According to Kilcullen, no major changes are to be made in the near future.