Former NYPD cop heads U Police

by Benjamin Ganje

The University’s new chief of police brings with him a diverse background. From walking a beat in New York City to reorganizing police operations abroad, George Aylward will now focus his efforts on protecting and serving the University.
Aylward initialized the interview process for the job while in Europe. He reorganized police agencies in Albania and later worked in Poland in 1998.
The new police chief — who began Aug. 30 — was attracted to the Minnesota job because he said the University Police Department has a good reputation.
“I was looking for a department that was in good shape,” Aylward said.
“I had heard great things about Minneapolis and St. Paul,” Aylward said, “both in Connecticut and while working abroad.”
Aylward was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and began his career as a police officer for the New York City police department in 1962. At the NYPD, he earned the rank of detective lieutenant before leaving in 1979 for a job as police chief in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
“It was a leave of absence, so my job wasn’t in jeopardy. After about a year, I decided to make the leave permanent,” he said.
In 1982, Aylward took a job as police chief in Middletown, Conn.
He had hoped that the job would not require him to reorganize and restructure the police department as in past positions.
But Aylward greeted controversy once again. He was alerted to a crime family operating in the college town home to Wesleyan University. He worked with the FBI to convict the crime family.
During his time in Connecticut, Aylward also received some negative reviews from the labor unions. The Hartford Courant reported on March 21 that he received “four no-confidence votes” during his tenure.
The new police chief, who did not comment directly on the no-confidence votes, dismissed the criticism as part of the backlash that routinely follows administrators and policy makers.
In 1997, Aylward worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, setting up police departments overseas. Besides working with the Albanian police agencies, the police chief also worked with public safety officials in Liberia.
After the Justice Department position ended, Aylward began looking at police departments in the United States, hoping to find a location that suited the needs of his family.

A vision for the University
Aylward said he sees the University Police working well with surrounding police departments.
“Having been on the other end of that, coordinating with a university, it won’t be a problem at all,” Aylward said. “The history of this area is one of cooperation; it seems to work very well here.”
Aylward said he has had a few opportunities in his first week with the University to coordinate efforts with the Minneapolis Police Department. For instance, both departments responded to the Washington Avenue natural gas leak Thursday.
“We had this gas leak out here, and there was absolutely no difference between our response and the response of the Minneapolis police,” said Aylward. “They were standing next to me, and we were working together. It’s very smooth.”
Aylward has been close to the action since he started with the University Police.
The animal rights protester who dangled from Moos Tower for several days last week was visible from Aylward’s office window Friday.
Although Aylward says he is satisfied with the situation he has stepped into, he does have some goals for the department.
“One thing I would really like to accomplish is to get this department to the point where it can do some community-based policing, some protractive policing,” he said.
“We only have the ability at this point to react to things; we essentially have enough people to respond to the calls that we get for assistance. We don’t have enough people to get beyond that and try to get ahead of that curve and work with the community to reduce those curves,” Aylward said.
He said his goal can be achieved through adding new officers and other administrators to his staff.
“We need to make sure that we are right upfront in what we do; that our approach to everything is open and understood by everybody,” Aylward said.

Benjamin Ganje covers police and welcomes comments at bgan[email protected]. He can also be reached at (612)627-4070 x3225.