Officers with the Oklahoma State University Police Department are sporting a commemorative badge to celebrate the department’s 50th anniversary. The OSUPD began as a safety and security department until Oklahoma statutes made it possible to become a campus police department. Since then, OSUPD has grown to 34 sworn officers, 12 support staff and 21 student employees.
Joe Staley was hired as a security officer in 1968 when the department was housed in a WWII-era Quonset hut across from the old business building. The safety and security employees patrolled on foot had and walkie-talkies to communicate.
Staley was the first young person hired.
“The chief believed young men had no business around all these college girls,” Staley said. “Fortunately, Russell Keith and Tom Hall — they were the investigators — they said times are changing and convinced the chief to hire me.”
Staley remembers cruising through dark parking lots once the departments got bicycles, listening for mischief.
“You could hear more and see more,” he said. “People were stealing tires off cars, 8-track tapes, siphoning gas. Even back then, they trained us on riot control, crowd dispersal. They trained us well. And once we got the cars, we ended up getting all kinds of equipment.”
He remembers the first marked cars after the statute passed, 1969 or ‘70 Dodge sedans sporting a university logo against white paint.
“When you’re ‘safety and security,’ you’re considered ‘just a security guard,’” he said. “It didn’t bother me, but it bothered some. When they changed the statute that gave us police powers, we still had to earn the respect. The name change wouldn’t change how the students looked at us.”
Staley, now a deputy for the Payne County Sheriff’s Office, is pleased to be part of the OSUPD’s beginnings.
“They put in a lot of effort, and they do a lot more than any citizen out here knows,” he said. “They’ve earned the respect.”
Chief Leon Jones, the first African American to lead the department, started in 1994. He’s watched the department grow and change, from being the first department in the state to earn accreditation to the acquisition of a mobile command bus.
“It’s great to be part of this historical moment,” Jones said. “I think it’s outstanding, knowing we have crossed a milestone of 50 years.”
OSUPD would like to share this achievement with former and retired officers who would like to order a commemorative badge. Those interested should contact Capt. Colt Chandler at email@example.com or 405-744-6523.
MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon G. Rigsby | Public Information Officer | 405-744-9081 | firstname.lastname@example.org