New Chief of Penn Police Gary Williams told The Daily Pennsylvanian that he will prioritize "safety and security" and re-engaging the University and West Philadelphia communities.
Williams — who was appointed as the interim chief of police in May 2022 — was announced as the new chief of police on Jan. 17. Williams has previously served with Penn Police for 21 years, joining in 2001 after working as an officer for the Philadelphia Police Department.
Throughout his time at Penn, he has been promoted to sergeant patrol, executive lieutenant, liaison to student groups on campus, captain of patrol, and now chief of police. Williams said that his years of experience in a variety of roles with Penn Police have made him "well-rounded" and prepared him for his new leadership role.
"As I worked my way up the department, my scope of responsibility got a lot larger," Williams said. "I was able to learn throughout my time here."
During his time at Penn, he has helped develop the Strategic Crime Prevention west end Grid Patrol, as well as spending time as an emergency response team leader and a negotiation team member for the Division of Public Safety Union. Williams has also been involved with community outreach programs, specifically the Police Athletic League, which aims to engage with local children.
Williams reflected on his six months as interim chief of police by emphasizing how he gained important skills, especially since he maintained the responsibilities of captain of patrol — a role that has yet to be filled since Williams' appointment — while serving in the interim role.
"I respect anyone who has served in an interim role," Williams said, adding that he became better at multitasking while in the role.
The opening for a new chief of police came about following the retirement of former Vice President for Public Safety and Superintendent of Penn Police Maureen Rush in 2021. Rush's responsibilities have since been divided into two roles: vice president for public safety and chief of police. Kathleen Shields Anderson became vice president of DPS in 2022 after previously serving in that role in an interim capacity.
Anderson shared excitement for Williams' appointment to his new role, highlighting his previous contributions to Penn Police, such as his "integral part" in bringing the body camera program to Penn before most places in the country.
Anderson added that Williams plans to focus on re-engagement of the community. Williams highlighted his participation in a recent panel at the African American Resource Center in which he discussed how Penn Police can take steps to avoid incidents like the recent police violence in Memphis, Tenn.
"I had the opportunity to discuss how we can prevent something similar from happening at Penn," Williams said, adding that Penn Police officers are equipped with de-escalation and bystander training.
Williams told the DP that his biggest goals for Penn Police are to ensure the safety and security of its constituents.
"Safety and security is what we do," Williams said. "That is my main priority for the students, faculty, staff, and West Philadelphia community."
As a father of two college-aged children, Williams said he hopes to take care of the student body. He added that while he understands students work hard and want to enjoy socializing, he hopes to prioritize that they do so safely.
"We are here for you, and we take care of you," Williams said.