Gregory Hestness has been a student, a parent and has even patrolled campus as the Minneapolis Police Department’s deputy chief of police.
Now, Hestness is trying out a new role: assistant vice president for public safety, where he is overseeing three major areas of on- campus safety – the University Police Department, emergency management and central security.
“It’s quite a big initiative,” he said.
After taking the reins, Hestness said his focus will be building awareness in the University community.
“I would like to build a safety- and security-conscious and competent community,” he said.
Hestness said students need crime prevention and drug and alcohol abuse education the most.
Having spent 28 years with the Minneapolis Police Department, Hestness said he hopes to use those relationships to handle larger security issues such as student disturbances.
He also said there was not enough coordination between the University and Minneapolis police departments during last April’s riot in Dinkytown, a problem he said was fixed when the departments met to work out scenarios on how they would respond to a riot.
“I think we’ll be ahead of the game for the next hockey victory,” he said.
Kathleen O’Brien, vice president for University Services, said Hestness’ experiences in community policing, crisis management and emergency response qualify him for the job, and said his work with different cultures at the Minneapolis Police Department also makes him skilled in building partnerships.
“People trust him because he does what he says he will do,” O’Brien said.
Hestness said he looks forward to the new challenges of the job, but is most excited about getting back to the University.
“I’m a Gopher,” he said. “I just enjoy being on campus.”