Following Chief John McCandless’ retirement from the Miami University Police Department (MUPD) in July, Stephen VanWinkle was named the new chief of police.
VanWinkle has worked with MUPD for more than 22 years. For the past six years, he has served as captain and operations commander. In his captain position, he managed hiring, training and scheduling, and he represented Miami in the Fraternal Order of Police and City Police Collaborations.
Having received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Miami and worked with the university for so long, VanWinkle said he feels a strong sense of community here.
“My favorite part of working at Miami is the community we have here,” VanWinkle said. “There’s a closeness here that you don’t find in other places. The college campus atmosphere is great too — the student body, the athletics, the energy.”
VanWinkle said he tries to bring this sense of community to the forefront of MUPD’s policing.
“I encourage all of our officers to be open-minded and willing to learn from our community and student body,” he said. “When students leave an interaction with the Miami University Police, it is my hope that they leave with increased knowledge, feeling heard, respected and a part of our community.”
In his time at MUPD, VanWinkle has met with several student groups to hear their concerns, including the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion. He has also worked with student groups, such as HAWKS Peer Health Educators, to collaborate on safety and wellness programming for students.
VanWinkle has also supervised the Police Student Internship Program and the Police Student Advisory Board, which serves to facilitate the relationship between MUPD and students as well as encourage community-oriented policing.
“I think it’s important that students know that MUPD is a resource for them, not just a law enforcement body,” VanWinkle said. “We are approachable and open to collaborating with them on programs to help our students and community stay safe.”
VanWinkle helped introduce many new initiatives to the police department, including the university’s K-9 bomb unit, the university and city joint response team and MUPD’s bike patrol.
“As the times change, police departments should also change to reflect the needs of the community,” VanWinkle said.
In 2020, VanWinkle was named MUPD Employee of the Year. He has also received the Excellence in the Community Award from the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and the Outstanding Performance in Criminal Justice Award from Miami.
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David Creamer, treasurer and senior vice president for finance and business at Miami, said he thinks VanWinkle was the best person to serve as MUPD’s newest chief.
“While a national search yielded a strong pool of candidates for the position, the best person to serve as Miami University's chief of police was right here in the department,” Creamer said. “I am excited about the opportunity to work with Stephen VanWinkle on continuing the development of the Miami University Police Department as a national model in university policing.”