After 18 years at the helm of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Police Department, Chief Owen Yardley is retiring.
Yardley, who began his university tenure in July 2001, announced his retirement to department officers and staff June 24. His last day will be July 12.
Prior to joining the university police, Yardley was with the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department for 22 years.
“I think 40 years is probably long enough in any one type of job, so I just felt it was time,” Yardley said.
While at Nebraska, Yardley worked with various departments to build out the services offered by campus police. For example, the department worked with both the Department of Psychology and Public Policy Center at Nebraska to establish the Threat Assessment Program. Yardley helped form Emergency Planning and Preparedness at Nebraska, which manages the UNL alert system, and is proactive in preparing campus for emergencies and working alongside the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and Lancaster County Emergency Management.
The police department also worked with the Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies to develop a campuswide geographic information system. The system is used by the entire campus but also aids police with detailed floor plans, classroom and building use, utility infrastructure and more.
“Our department has worked well collaboratively with people and other organizations, both on campus and outside the university,” Yardley said. “Those collaborations and others took us into the public-safety realm. They’re not traditionally under law enforcement, but they’re improvements we made for the safety of everyone.”
Yardley commended the partnership between campus police and the Athletics Department. He said its joint management of safety and operations at large events is “probably one of the best operations in the country and typically seen as a model.”
More recently, Yardley oversaw the addition of K-9 officers and international accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
He also opened the department’s doors to educate members of the public on the campus police and increase community policing efforts through the inaugural Citizen’s Police Academy, held in fall 2018.
“Working with the people — being able to do some creative things — that’s probably been the most enjoyable part, and it sets the university police apart from other types of policing,” Yardley said.
Bill Nunez, vice chancellor of business and finance, praised Yardley’s work as chief.
“Owen has been a transformational leader whose contributions to the university are vast,” he said. “He has been a national leader in the area of campus policing, especially with alerts and campus and building monitoring and access. He championed campuswide outreach and built an exceptional team of leaders and officers. We will miss him as a member of our campus community.”
Assistant Police Chief Hassan Ramzah has been appointed interim chief. Ramzah has been with the department since 2016. A search for a permanent chief will be announced in the near future.