Public safety first

Following a national search, the University of Rhode Island welcomes Stephen N. Baker, a former chief of police in Westerly, R.I., and URI’s first police major, to the position of director of public safety. He held the position on an interim basis for the past year, and now takes on the permanent appointment overseeing police and security operations, parking services, fire and life safety, environmental health and safety, and emergency management, communications and technology at URI.

Baker is a favorite son of Westerly, having served in that city’s police department from 1978 through 2004, the last two years as chief. In 2005, he was named URI Police Department’s first major and has since played a big role in further professionalizing the department. He added supervisory positions to night patrols, adopted policies and procedures conforming to national accreditation standards, began working through the Municipal Police Training Academy to diversify the URI police force, and launched community policing initiatives such as “Blues and Cues,” a night of billiards and pizza for students and police, “Skate Night” at the Boss Arena, and a student internship program with URI Talent Development.

“We’ve gotten the best of the best by hiring Steve Baker,” said Robert A. Weygand, former URI vice president for administration and finance. “We’ve had an absolutely flawless transition since the retirement of Bob Drapeau (as public safety director). We are thrilled to have a person of Steve’s ability and experience become our director of public safety.”