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Serve and Protect

With alumnus Chris Enos' leadership, WUPD committed to campus safety, student success

Chris Enos in front of Morgan Hall

From The Ichabod - Spring 2018

On a warm, sunny afternoon in March, the front door to the Washburn University Police Department was propped open, giving passersby a look in from the busy sidewalk outside Morgan Hall. That welcoming atmosphere is exactly what the department wants.

Sitting in the chief’s office is Chris Enos, bs ’16, 10 months into the job on a permanent basis after serving as interim chief for a year. On his wall hangs his Washburn diploma, a certificate of completion from the FBI National Academy and a campus map. He takes a phone call about having officers at the groundbreaking for the Washburn Tech East campus. A week earlier, he answered concerns about the outdoor siren not sounding on campus during weekly tests. It’s since been fixed. Making sure all Washburn spaces are safe and secure is his department’s job, and training is a major part of that.

“We want to create a robust training program so our officers can respond to campus needs,” Enos said.

Enos is carrying on the leadership of Dean Forster, bs ’74, who retired two years ago after 14 years as chief. Enos came to Washburn in 2005 and served as Forster’s captain starting in 2013.

“Chief Forster was a very good mentor for me. He knows what it means to have a Washburn education,” Enos said. “He encouraged me to go out and complete mine.”

Enos earned a criminal justice degree before becoming permanent chief last summer when the department celebrated 20 years as a certified law enforcement agency. He’s been busy since then. Every WUPD officer goes through a 40-hour crisis intervention course through the Topeka Police Department that teaches response to mental health emergencies like suicide and incidents related to post-traumatic stress disorder. Officers have also attended federal firearms school and federal active shooter training courses.

“Sexual assault response is also a campus-wide initiative and one we’re playing a big part in,” Enos said. “We want the officers to understand the perceptions of victims and really come at those investigations with a victim-centered approach.”

Officers are now wearing mandatory body cameras, and Enos said his officers overwhelmingly welcome the transparency. A staff maintains the communications center 24 hours a day, answering phone calls, watching security camera footage and monitoring other emergency communications in the city.

“We’re pretty heavily centered on making sure everyone has good training opportunities,” said Officer Zach Mersmann, one of Enos’ first hires. “There are a lot of aspects of mental health, medications, substance abuse – all the things we may see on campus. Training for that helps us interact with students and the community.”

Enos is improving the cadet program to get more students to stay in the department after graduation. The volunteer student group recently gained student organization status and cadets can get internship credit through the criminal justice department. Mersmann was a cadet before accepting his current position.

“It was nice to be with peers who were serious about preparing for a career in law enforcement,” Mersmann said. “We were there for the same reason, for our careers.”

Educating all students is a priority for the WUPD. Officers present to first-year students on alcohol and drug awareness, mental health, suicide prevention, active shooter and active threat response. When officers must interact with students who break the law or put themselves or others in danger, there are alternatives to arresting the students, including the University Behavioral Assessment Team. Joel Bluml, associate vice president for student life,
heads the team.

“One of the many things I admire about Chris is his ability to successfully lead a certified law-enforcement unit, while at the same time promoting a culture that is student-centered,” Bluml said. “This has resulted in a level of trust that enables Chris and members of his team to deal with a variety of situations in ways that result in the best possible outcome for the individuals involved, as well as the University.”

Enos, a member of the assessment team, said a lot of the students just need some extra assistance.

“We can share our concerns with people in other disciplines who can answer them more effectively and help that student along. I think that’s really a big benefit we’ve seen that maybe goes unnoticed. We’re here to make sure students are successful in their academic careers.”


The Ichabod magazine spring 2021

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. Read the 2021 spring edition online and look for it in mailboxes in May.

View past editions


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Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483