New NDSP chief aims to deepen community bonds
Courtney Becker | Monday, October 10, 2016
Recently appointed Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) chief Keri Kei Shibata is focusing on strengthening the bonds between NDSP and the Notre Dame community this year.
“I’m a person who will receive feedback … about how we’re doing our job and how we’re serving [students]. Because it’s really a partnership to make sure that it’s a safe community and that we interact in a way that really builds community, and the kind of community that we want to have,” Shibata said. “It’s my job to make sure that all that’s happening — that we understand the needs of members and segments of the University community as well as the University as a whole — and then also to build partnerships so that we can work with the people that we need to work with well.”
Shibata, whose promotion to chief of NDSP took effect July 1, joined NDSP as a non-sworn officer in 2004 and was promoted to police officer in 2005 before eventually ascending to the role of deputy chief.
“I came to this area to go to Bethel College for my undergraduate. My major was biblical literature and my goal was to be either a college Bible professor or a pastor,” she said. “I needed other work to support myself so I started doing some different jobs at Bethel. One of them was security and then another was a residence hall director, their equivalent of our rectors. So when there was a job posting at Notre Dame for the residence hall squad … I was hired as one of those folks probably because I had that dual background of residence life and security.”
Shibata said she views her biggest responsibility as chief to be providing guidance for her officers so they can better perform their jobs.
“I think my role is to make sure that our officers know what is expected of them and what their role is, and that they have everything that they need to do that really well,” Shibata said. “They’re the ones who will be out there interacting with students most directly — and with faculty and staff, as well — and I want to make sure that they understand what the University expects of them and what I expect.”
Shibata’s more specific duties consist of meeting with other campus leaders and evaluating NDSP’s performance, she said.
“Notre Dame is a very collaborative campus and so we work together on a lot of different initiatives. So sometimes [the job] is meeting with our other partners. … Or if it’s responding to some sort of issue that’s come up and making sure that we’re handling whatever comes up appropriately, that’s how I spend a lot of my time,” she said.
Shibata said she also tries to make time to personally check in with her officers and make appearances around campus herself.
“I like to go to our staff roll calls,” she said. “They have a roll call at the beginning of every shift and so when I can, I like to try to go to roll calls and see all of our officers and things like that, and when I can get out and around campus and if there are events going on — major events like football or pep rallies or things like that — I’ll stop in and check in on how those things are going.”
Shibata has discovered this aspect of her job is particularly important during home football game weekends.
“On game day it’s all hands on deck, so all of our staff are here and we actually bring in a lot of officers from other police departments in the area as well. And so we have a few different teams that work on different things,” she said. “I go to all those different roll calls and then kind of just check in on things around campus … and then I also spend some time in the command post.”
None of this has particularly surprised Shibata, however, owing to her previous experience as deputy chief.
“I don’t think there was anything really unexpected [about this job],” she said. “My last job was deputy chief so I worked very closely with our chief. … So I don’t think that there was much that was really unexpected.”
Shibata said she hopes to improve communication between NDSP and the Notre Dame community and other organizations NDSP works with.
“The biggest goals are engagement and partnership,” she said. “In law enforcement in general there’s a lot of conversation right now about trust and relationships between members of the community and police departments, and we think that we have a pretty good relationship with the Notre Dame community. … But we want to continue to really foster and build that trust and deepen those relationships while things are good in case something becomes not good, and then there’s that trust there and we can have real communication.”
Shibata said she is also aiming to develop leadership within NDSP.
“Even though I’m just starting in this new position I want to make sure that the people that work in our department are prepared if I can’t be here or if their supervisor can’t be there to step in and make sure that we’re able to continuously provide the kind of service that the University requires,” she said.
Shibata made history as the first female chief of NDSP, something she said would not have been possible without the support of the Notre Dame and NDSP communities.
“I’m very fortunate that I have been supported throughout my career here at Notre Dame — both by the University administration and by the individuals within this department — and so I’ve had a very positive experience throughout my career,” Shibata said. “I’m honored to fill that role and I believe that it is important to have all kinds of diversity within the police department and the leadership within the police department, and so the fact that that is happening, I think, is a good thing.”
Shibata said it is this support that has made her fall in love with Notre Dame.
“I’m very proud and honored to be a part of this community, and the more I get to know the Notre Dame community the more I really love it,” she said. “I didn’t come here because I was a huge Notre Dame fan or anything like that … but I’ve really fallen in love with Notre Dame and the people — mostly the people — who are here.”