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New Penn State Chief Of Police Brings Communication, Experience

Penn State’s new chief of police operations for University Police and Public Safety Joe Milek has been on the job for only a couple weeks, but he already has plans on how to ensure such a large department operates safely and successfully.

As part of his job, Milek will be in charge of overseeing police operations at all of Penn State’s 22 campuses. This is a rather large task, but Milek feels that his combination of experience in both law enforcement and higher education has properly prepared him for such a large role.

“It’s a great challenge, but I look at challenges philosophically as opportunities,” he said. “That’s one of the many things about coming here –the challenge itself is an opportunity for me to grow and for me to share my experiences of 26 years with a new institution.”

Chief Milek was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He served 10 years in the United States Air Force, and he began his venture into law enforcement after leaving the Air Force. Milek then served 22 years in the Cincinnati Police Department before deciding to take the police chief job at Xavier University. From there, he went to Oklahoma State University where he worked as an assistant police chief job.

Milek says that he was drawn to a career in law enforcement based on his ambition and experience in the military.

“[The military] was a great fit early on. I enjoyed a great degree of success in the military,” he said. “Law enforcement was a natural gravitation. I was fortunate enough to be hired by the city of Cincinnati, and it was an amazing opportunity and an amazing career. I was able to do so much there within the department and the community.”

He believes that, based on his extensive experience in law enforcement, one of the most important parts of being successful is building strong relationships based on communication.

“The conversational piece is the most important part, always,” Milek said. “Building the relationships and building the rapport, you do that, not through emails and not through memos, but through conversations.”

Public Information Officer Jenn Cruden says Chief Milek has plans to continue this attitude of open and effective conversations by going out and visiting all 22 campuses. He took the job as the assistant police chief at Oklahoma State to prepare himself for an opportunity like being the head police chief at such a large school.

“Being from Buffalo and working in Cincinnati all those years, I’ve always been back and forth through Pennsylvania. The reputation of the university, the description of the position and the challenges that come with it were a natural attraction,” Milek said. “I’m extremely thankful for the university for giving me this opportunity. I’ll do everything I can to live up to the challenge.”

Chief Milek is a self-proclaimed huge sports fan, but he made it clear where his loyalties lay before last weekend’s football game between Penn State and his hometown Buffalo Bulls.

“I for the most part cheer for the individuals more so than the teams, but you do have your favorites,” he said. “I wish Buffalo all the best, and I follow them and they have a great program. But if you’re asking me where my loyalty stands this weekend, it’s here at Penn State. We Are…”

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a senior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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