This past week, Xavier welcomed its newest member to campus: Robert Warfel, who officially assumed his position as the Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police.
Although Warfel was named the new head of the Xavier University Police Department (XUPD) in early February, the government shutdown meant that he was unable to leave his previous job with the FBI until now. He replaces Daniel Hect, who left the university at the beginning of the academic year.
Warfel comes to campus after working as an attorney and FBI agent, holding a B.A. from Butler University and a law degree from Ohio Northern University College of Law. He passed the Ohio bar exam upon graduating, and while working as a trial attorney, an opportunity arose to work for the FBI. He accepted the position and left for the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, Va., subsequently reporting to the Chicago field office in December 1997.
For the past 21 years, he has worked as a Special Agent and Supervisory Special Agent for the FBI, with experience in crisis management, critical incident response and special event security, according to Vice President of Risk Management Jeff Coleman.
“I am originally from Cincinnati, so I have always been interested in trying to come back here,” Warfel said. “My wife is also from here, and as I was getting close to the end of my FBI career, I was looking at what options and opportunities might be available in the public and private sectors.”
In this new phase of his life, Warfel knew that he was interested in working in a school setting. He described the opportunity to work on college campuses as exciting, with “a dynamic community” and “constant changeover as new classes come in.”
“You never stop learning, and for me, each opportunity or endeavor I have undertaken has allowed that opportunity,” he said. “(It’s) a perfect fit.”
As the new Chief of Police unpacks boxes and settles into his new role, he said that he is spending a lot of time “working directly with patrol officers, the sergeants and the lieutenants that have been here operating the department.” He is listening to what these veteran staff members have to say to “learn their perspectives on some of the challenges they face and some of the things that are going well.”
“My goal is to figure out how we can meet the needs of the community we serve as well as give our department the best resources to make that happen,” Warfel said.
He is currently working with the Safety Committee on campus as well as the university board to determine his first steps in getting to know the community that he will serve. As such, he expects his agenda to be very hectic in the coming weeks.
One particular reason he is getting to know the community, especially the other XUPD officers, is so that he can have a better sense for the direction of the anticipated Assistant Chief of Police position. This new role on campus will focus on operations involving community outreach and personnel matters such as officer training, and it will be one of Warfel’s first major actions as Chief of Police.
According to Warfel, the position was posted and will close on March 27. Right now, they are conducting an internal search for candidates before opening the position up to applicants outside of current members of XUPD.
Beyond these preliminary actions, Warfel said he anticipates being at Xavier long-term and added his overall goal is “being able to provide a safe environment for our Xavier students, faculty and staff in order to impact the community and give the students who are graduating the opportunity to take their Xavier experience and put it out into the world.”
Additionally, Warfel said he expects the job to be “a learning curve for me that will take some time” but is nonetheless enthusiastic to begin.
“This is a position that I sought, and I am excited to be a part of the Xavier community,” he said.
Warfel concluded by comparing his work with XUPD to being a parent. A father himself, he sees the Xavier community as part of his family.
“Like any parent, we want our kids to succeed and do well, so when I look at the environment that is at Xavier, I think that is what we as officers in this department also see. This is an extension of family,” he said.
By: Alex Budzynski | Staff Writer