Posted July 28, 2023

As part of a reorganization, Temple’s Department of Public Safety introduces three new key roles

The deputy director of organizational affairs, director of tactics and professional development, and associate director of organization administration (HR) represent the first of several new positions that will be added to the Department of Public Safety in the coming months.

People lounging on campus
Photography By: 
Ryan S. Brandenberg
Temple's Department of Public Safety has been reorganized to align with best practices in top law enforcement agencies.

Over the last several months, Temple University’s Department of Public Safety has been completely reorganized to help increase professionalism, training and organizational development to better to serve both the Temple and North Philadelphia communities.

As part of this reorganization, Deputy Director of Organizational Affairs Michael Smith, Director of Tactics and Professional Development Chris Willard, and Associate Director of Organization Administration (HR) Amber James joined the department on June 5.

“Our reorganization has seen us revise the public safety organizational chart with a considerable expansion, allowing us to bring on 15 new strategic and tactical leadership and operational positions. These positions are key to optimizing the department to ensure that we’re aligned with the best practices seen in some of the top law enforcement agencies,” said Vice President for Public Safety Jennifer Griffin. “The deputy director of organizational affairs, director of tactics and professional development, and associate director of organization administration (HR) represent the first of these new positions, and we’re so excited that we have been able to bring on board individuals as talented as Michael, Chris and Amber.”

Deputy Director of Organizational Affairs Michael Smith

Smith most recently served as executive officer of the Regional Operations and Intelligence Center with the New Jersey State Police. Prior to that, he was bureau chief of the Information and Intelligence Analysis Bureau, where he managed the state’s three regional crime centers (also known as fusion centers). Boasting 25 years of law enforcement experience, Smith oversaw the construction and initial operations of the Real Time Crime Center in the city of Trenton, along with the Crime Gun Center and Facial Recognition Initiative. He has also served in the Regional Operations and Intelligence Center and the Office of Drug Monitoring and Analysis. He was instrumental in the creation and implementation of New Jersey’s Gun Violence Reduction Taskforce.

Smith participated in the coordination of national-level events, including Hurricane Sandy, Super Bowl XLVII, Jersey City active shooter, NJ SPEAR Puerto Rico earthquake deployment and the COVID-19 pandemic. He has presented at nationally recognized conferences on real time crime centers and gun and violent crime prevention in Sacramento, California, and Washington, D.C., and graduated from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police Command and Leadership Academy. He holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Seton Hall University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kean University.

He was also active attending and presenting at the New Jersey College and University Public Safety Association meetings and facilitated briefings on crime trends related to vehicle thefts, catalytic converter thefts, various violent crime and shooting trends, and statewide statistics. In addition, he collaborated with the Joint Terrorism Taskforce and Threat Bureau to present on the threat outlook in the state, specifically mass gathering and protests related to potential threats to the higher education community.

In his own words: “I have 25 years of experience with the New Jersey State Police, and I had been looking for that second career to keep that fire lit, but I needed something that I felt pulled to where I felt as if I could make a difference. This position really was it. I am really looking forward to working in higher education. I feel as if I can bring a lot to this role and to the university setting, and I am eager to collaborate and partner with the city as we work to keep the community safe.”

Director of Tactics and Professional Development Chris Willard

For the past 15 years, Willard has served as the assistant director of the Temple University Criminal Justice Training Program, based at the Ambler Campus. Willard has police experience as a park ranger and chief ranger and previously served as a police officer at West Chester University and Millersville University, as well as Downingtown and Quarryville.

Willard served as a corporal at the Chester County Sheriff’s Office, where she was responsible for their training and field training officer program and developed their physical fitness program. While at Ambler, Willard was also responsible for day-to-day operations of the National Park Service Park Ranger Law Enforcement Academy; Temple is one of six across the country. She brings with her extensive experience in MPOETC, curriculum development and instruction, learning management systems, and records management systems. She holds both bachelor and master’s degrees from West Chester University.

In her own words: “I see it as an opportunity to stay in law enforcement training and shift my focus from basic training to training seasoned officers, new officers, as well as communications and security units. It’s a different audience that I will be training, and I think that’s what the challenge is, and that’s also what drew me to this opportunity. It’s going to be a big transition to come form the park-like setting of Ambler to the busy, vibrant Main Campus, but I’m excited.”

Associate Director of Organization Administration (HR) Amber James

Prior to joining the Department of Public Safety, James worked as a senior administrative specialist at Temple University Human Resources with extensive experience in absence management, worker’s compensation, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and new university hire onboarding.

Temple is a family affair for James as her mother has worked at the institution for more than 30 years. She has a deep understanding of the university systems and relationships with other departments and personnel, which she believes will be key to fostering stronger working relationships between the public safety team and other units across campus. In this new role, she will assist in the creation and execution of human resources best practices, recruitment, hiring, retention, and professional development and promotion strategies.

James holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s in human resource management, both of which she earned here at Temple. 

In her own words: “Since I first started at Temple, I have gone on to earn my master’s degree and while I enjoy absence management and coordinating FMLA leave, I knew that I wanted to do more. As I started working with other departments at the university, I saw that ‘my more’ could be as the human resources lead for another department. I look forward to bringing consistency and fairness to the Department of Public Safety, and I want to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. We have to remember that HR stands for human resources, and there’s a human element to it.”