Wichita State's top cop to retire

10:01:57 AM CDT - Thursday, May 22, 2003

By Joe Kleinsasser

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Chuck Rummery
No one can say Wichita State's police chief doesn't have a sense of humor. Since assuming the leadership of the campus police force in 1991, Chuck Rummery has kissed a pig to help raise money for a good cause, and has laid flat on his back while a professional golfer hit a golf ball off his chest. Perhaps it's no wonder that with these unexpected risks of being a police chief, Rummery won't let anyone talk him out of his decision to retire next month.

The majority of Rummery's 38-year career in law enforcement was with the Wichita Police Department, and he was no stranger to campus during his city policing days. Before becoming police chief at WSU, Rummery had helped with security for the athletic department. He also traveled with the football team the last two years of the program in 1985 and 1986. And, after taking the scenic route through college, he graduated from WSU with a criminal justice degree in 1982.

It didn't take Rummery long to detect a big change between police work for the city and WSU. "I was taught for 25 years that police officers spend 95 percent of their time dealing with 5 percent of society, and that 5 percent of society they're dealing with are kind of what I call the dregs of society. I saw a 180-degree change at the university. Out here we spend 95 percent of our time with the good part of society. Only 5 percent of our time is dealing with the criminal element or people that are causing trouble.

"When crimes occur in the city, a big percentage of them are at night. Out here, because we have less people on campus at night, the numbers of crimes that occur at night are a lot smaller. We have very little crime on weekends. It's a bigger time for the city.

"The stress is a lot less out here. We're able to do more services out here than a normal police department is. We feel like we're part of the university, so we try to be involved in various sections of the university. There are so many good people out here at the university. We try to build a good reputation with our faculty and staff and our students."
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WSU Police Chief Chuck Rummery, left,
gets ready to kiss a pig during a fund raiser
for multiple sclerosis. Joining him are
Suzanne Asbridge, center, and Larry Keller.
Rummery will retire in June.

Rummery is pleased that violent crime at Wichita State has been very low during his 12 years on campus. The worst crime was the shooting incident outside Cessna Stadium following a community-wide July 4 celebration in 1993. While working in Wichita's police department for more than 26 years, Rummery worked in homicide, master detective division, firearms training, patrol officer, and more.

Rummery's career in law enforcement is filled with interesting stories. He was the lead investigator on a sniper case that occurred on what was then the Holiday Inn downtown. He also was the field services bureau commander in 1991 when anti-abortion protests took center stage in Wichita in what was called Operation Rescue.

"While a lot of people don't think it was very successful, we did get through it without having any major injuries to officers or protesters," says Rummery. "We never had a lawsuit filed against us. They (anti-abortion protesters) got their rights to protest, and we were able to keep the business (where abortions were performed) operating also. Some people thought we should have been more aggressive than what we were, but our intent when we were planning was to keep down the possibility of lawsuits.

"We were real surprised how long it lasted, because all indications were that it was going to be about a two-week thing, and it ended up being all summer."

In the midst of explosive situations, Rummery's career with the Wichita Police Department also included some lighter moments. In the early 1980s there was a riot near the university on 21st Street. When police tried to contact Rummery at his home, his wife told them that he was at the university. The area around Levitt Arena was being used as a staging area for the police department, and no one could find Rummery.

Concerned that Rummery was missing and may have been captured, the police called his wife back and said, "Where's he supposed to be at the university?" She said, "Well, he's in class."

On another occasion, Rummery had a close encounter with a mop and pail. "I loved third shift," says Rummery. "I liked working at night. I had a reputation for catching burglars in buildings, but it always made your hair rise a little bit when you're out checking buildings and you found a door open, or you found a window open, and you're basically by yourself.

"I still remember an incident one night at 13th and Grove. On the northeast corner there used to be a little Laundromat. One night I found the back door open. I walked in and when I opened the door I looked through the crack in the door. At the time, it looked like there was somebody right down in the corner behind the door, squatting down. I'm yelling to come out of there and I've got my weapon out. I swing the door back and what they've got is a mop pail there and a mop. It looked so real that I had to look again. It looked like somebody hiding behind the door."

During his tenure at WSU, campus security has undergone numerous changes. The police department has some additional officers and funding. Rummery hired safety officers to write most of the parking tickets and let the patrol officer's patrol. "It gave us an additional visibility factor," says Rummery.

He added a sergeant and a crime prevention position. Campus lighting was improved. Emergency phones were added. Two additional full-time dispatchers were hired.

Rummery switched to higher-profile SUV type vehicles because they are more visible while patrolling parking lots. "We felt like visibility was a crime prevention item, and the more visible you are the better off you are for reducing crimes," says Rummery.

"We initiated a bicycle patrol," he says. "One of the things that we discovered real quick is the patrol vehicle became an isolation booth over the years. If you took that same officer and put him on a bicycle, now he became people friendly. Now he talked to people. Now people are more apt to talk to him. Plus, bicycles can go places you can't take a patrol car."

In retirement, Rummery plans to spend a little more time fishing and hunting, traveling with his wife, and watching his grandchildren grow up. He leaves WSU with pleasant memories and a sense of pride.

"One of the things that I've been proud of, our crime statistics have stayed so low over the last several years. All in all, our crime statistics have really stayed stable while we've seen crime go up in other areas of the country, and even at other universities. I think it shows how we've worked to keep crime down as much as we can."

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Inside WSU is published by the Office of University Communications for Wichita State University faculty, staff and friends on biweekly during the fall and spring semesters. Items to be considered for publication should be sent to campus box 62 or joe.kleinsasser@wichita.edu.

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