Chief Baer dedicated to fairness
...When Bradley hired University Police Chief Dave Baer in 1973, he said he thought it would be a temporary job.
"I thought I'd be here for a one- to three-year period," Baer
said."But I just never left."Originally from Pennsylvania, Baer completed some of his elementary schooling here and eventually graduated from Peoria's Spalding High School.He
then worked for the railroad and attended classes at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
.Baer joined the Navy in 1967 when the nation was in the thick of the Vietnam War.Baer
served on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"When I started, [the ship] had just returned from Vietnam," Baer
said."We were dry-docked for a while, and we were supposed to return to Vietnam."Instead, the aircraft carrier traveled to the Mediterranean.Baer said serving in the Navy was a great experience.
"I loved it," he
has seen many changes on Bradley's campus since he
was hired, but he
doesn't think crime is any different.
"It tends to be consistent," Baer
said."We average the same number of thefts and personal crime.Nothing in human nature changes."
department's authority to handle crime on campus has been transformed.
"When I came here, we were a security department," Baer
said."It was a different type of interaction ... and we were confined to Bradley's property."
But in 1991, Bradley
became the first private university in the state of Illinois to have a state-authorized police department.Baer
said the distinction allows the department to offer an enhanced level of response to both Bradley
and the greater Peoria community.
"Our focus is the university, but the nature of the job draws us into the surrounding area," Baer
Fourteen officers currently work under Baer
, and a 15th has just enrolled at the academy.Baer
department made an agreement with the city and Peoria County to allow his
officers to issue tickets and make arrests.
"Becoming a police department only allowed us to make arrests on our property," Baer
said."We made the agreement to make our duties fair and equitable within the municipality."
University police use forms supplied by city police, and work closely with the Peoria police department
when cases affect both Bradley students and non-students.Baer said the biggest challenge of leading the university police department is trying to make sure those affected by police are being treated fairly.
"We're perceived as insensitive," Baer
said."But that's not the reason officers do their jobs."He
thinks of students' misbehavior as a learning experience, and thinks they benefit from learning the consequences of their actions."We try to let the students learn by doing," Baer
said."We don't want to casually ignore their actions; then we're not doing what we're charged to do."He
offered university police's cooperation with the state's Campus/TAP operation as an example.
"Underage drinking is an issue," Baer