Some police officers at the University of Rhode Island have had extensive policing backgrounds even before they began their work at the university.
Michael Chalek, lieutenant for the police department, knew he wanted to become a cop when between his junior high and high school years. Although his goal was to become a Rhode Island state trooper, he knew he wanted to be a cop, nonetheless. He attended Bryant College, now University, and was in the law enforcement program. While at Bryant, he applied for the Cranston Police Department.
Chalek explained that he went through the process while still in college, and was hired by the Cranston Police Department at “the ripe old age of 20.” He spent 27 years with the Cranston Police, having done various jobs in his years there, including patrolman, dispatch, and eventually promoted to sergeant. Â
Over time, Chalek made lieutenant, doing time as a patrol lieutenant and as a shift commander. He spent most of his time in the station and was responsible for the entire operation, especially during third shift. He spent a couple of years in charge of the narcotics division before being promoted to Captain where he did a couple of years in training and crime prevention. Chalek spent five years as commander of the investigations division before becoming deputy chief and finally, chief of police.
After 27 years, Chalek retired as chief of police from the Cranston Department and wanted to take some time off before he started looking for a different job. He said that he started applying for several jobs, but is very lucky to have been hired at the university.
Both of Chalek’s daughters attended and graduated from URI so he knew the campus well, and it helped that he also attended the police academy when it was on campus back in 1978.
“I said ‘you know what, I still remember how to be a cop,’” Chalek said. “And I thought maybe getting back to a position of less rank than a chief, my last four or five years, it was totally administrative.”
He said he thought it would be nice to be able to engage in some police work again, something that he had really missed doing.
Chalek has been at URI for a little over 10 years, working the entire time as lieutenant. As lieutenant, Chalek does many different things from administrative responsibilities, police, taking reports, investigating serious crimes, helping foster in the army and investigating personal issues if the need arises. He also sits on several committees and a couple of committees for the chief’s association still.
“I like the fact that I’ve been able to work on a lot of cases,” he said. “I like my role that I have now.”
Right now, Chalek is the satellite police liaison, which puts him in charge of police security services at the Bay Campus as well as the Alton Jones and Providence campuses. He is also a member of the university’s sexual assault response team and works in internal affairs investigations.
“I’ve told people this repeatedly, that I find being a campus police officer to be more challenging than being a municipal police officer,” he said.
He explained that when you are a municipal police officer, there is more freedom and more room to patrol. Essentially, an officer is not confined to a campus.
“You go, you do your job, you have a lot of variety,” said Chalek. “You can make it what you want.”
Chalek explained that the department is a confined place where an officer can take on so many roles on the campus, unlike a regular officer who is out running radar for eight hours a day.
You’re an officer, you’re a teacher, you’re a coach, you’re a disciplinarian, you’re a surrogate parent, you’re an adviser, you are a law enforcer, so you have so many different roles that you plan,” Chalek said. “Realistically, in my opinion, you have a great impact on people coming here.”