Sajina Jacob – Staff Writer
Benedictine University is happy to welcome Debra Vanderploeg as our Interim Chief of Police. Chief Vanderploeg began her career in 1994 as a community service officer in Wood Dale. She worked for a time in Glen Ellyn and attended the Police Training Institute in Champaign, and in 2002, she left to look after her three children as a stay-at-home mom.
“I wanted these students to have the same experience, be treated the same way, that I would want for my daughters. I looked at the students (and still do) as an extension of my family, my kids.”
She dreamt of reentering law enforcement, and she finally had an opportunity to do so. Chief Vanderploeg became part of the Benedictine community in 2012. She left for another opportunity for a short time but returned in March 2020. The chief loves to work with students; she loves knowing that her career makes a difference in student’s lives and helps them have a successful college career.
“Seeing a lot of the same faces working here and even some of the same students made me feel like I had never left.”
The goal of the University’s police department is to be a resource for students to go for assistance of any kind. One of Chief Vanderpoleg’s goals is to create programs where officers and students can positively interact. This has proven difficult with limited numbers of students on campus and in residential housing. One idea she has is to offer to have officers attend the meetings of student groups to have a conversation on what students think the University needs and how the department can help accomplish them.
The University police also hopes to work with the Criminal Justice program in the future and allow students interested in law enforcement to be mentored and gain valuable experience for graduation.
“My goal is to have students look at the police department not with fear, but with a sense of relief knowing we are there to truly help them.”