New police chief aims for accessibility, perception


Colin Stevenson

Chief of Police Steven Callarman takes on his role permanently after taking it interim last September, Feb. 6.

MSU’s safety is in new hands. Former interim campus Chief of Police Steven Callarman has accepted the chief of police position on a permanent basis. Set on a backdrop of a number of other changes in leadership at the university, Callarman’s promotion signals a new direction for the campus Police Department. 

Callarman has been with the MSU Police Department for over three years. For most of that time, he has worked on compiling data regarding crime statistics to ensure the university is compliant with the Clery Act. Under the Clery Act, universities that receive federal funds are required to report information regarding the number of crimes and arrests on campus and make that info available to the public. But when former chief Patrick Coggins retired at the end of August, Callarman was asked to step into the role on an interim basis. He accepted on Sept. 1, and now has a chance to define both the role and the direction of the department.

Callarman said he hopes to build on the work of his predecessor since Coggins’ work drew positive attention from interim president Keith Lamb.

“As interim I spent my first several months, you know, not making any real big changes. Chief Coggins did a great job of bringing this Police Department up to a very professional level, and Dr. Lamb was very happy with that. So I think they wanted a little bit of consistency, and I think I brought that. Not wanting to make any huge changes or anything like that, and after doing this job since September, he offered me the full-time gig in January and I was happy to take it,” Callarman said.

With Callarman’s new position comes the responsibility not only of maintaining the duties of the department, but also maintaining public perception in a time when police have received a great deal of scrutiny.

Callarman said he’s aware of the changing sentiment among portions of the public, and hopes to ensure students feel safe.

“Police work is definitely not – when I joined in 1990, it’s definitely a different ballgame now. And a lot of that has been through the fault of police departments not training their officers,” Callarman said.

Chief Callarman hopes to improve the campus police's accessibility to students, Feb. 6.
Chief Callarman hopes to improve the campus police’s accessibility to students, Feb. 6. (Colin Stevenson)

He added that while he believes the majority of cops are good and want to help, staffing shortages and lax hiring practices have led to some officers who aren’t up to the standard.

“I think every occupation are going to have certain workers that probably don’t fit the mold you would like them to have,” Callarman said. 

Callarman said staffing has been a concern at the MSU police department, and is a part of his job he takes seriously and intends to prioritize.

“The biggest challenge I have as a chief is making sure the guys we have here are top notch. And because we are a smaller agency, it may be tougher to fill those spots. Well, like I said before, we’ll wait to get a quality candidate that I know is going to serve the community, serve the students in the way that I expect them to, as opposed to just hiring somebody because we need them to fill the spot,” Callarman said.

Another area where Callarman hopes to improve perception is by increasing the Police Department’s accessibility to students. One way he hopes to do that is by increasing the department’s involvement with student affairs in a positive way.

“I’m hoping to work with some of my other directors in student affairs and kind of do some joint ventures where, you know, we can get involved. And I like to get out, I’ve been to several things since I’ve been interim chief and now chief. Just getting out and see all the events and see what’s going on,” Callarman said. 

Callarman said he has an open-door policy and wants to be available to students for questions or to talk. He added that both accessibility and staffing play into how he deals with public perception.

“Here it’s great. We can actually get involved with the students. And our job is just to make sure students feel safe here and get a good education,” Callarman said, adding that, “I would like to let everyone know in this university that we are picking the cream of the crop here, and that the officers here are here to help. And getting involved and letting them see the person behind the badge, yeah it’s important to me.”

The MSU Police Department is located nearby the Wichita Falls Museum of Art on Eureka Circle, Feb. 6.
The MSU Police Department is located nearby the Wichita Falls Museum of Art on Eureka Circle, Feb. 6. (Colin Stevenson)