On April 29th, Rhode Island College held a swearing in ceremony for the newly appointed Director of Safety and Security and Chief of Campus Police James J. Mendonca. Chief Mendonca has a detailed history of serving the community.
Mendonca started off in the U.S. Marine Corps, became a correctional officer, a patrol officer, and then the 16th chief of police for the Central Falls Police Department in 2013. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in the Administration of Justice from Roger Williams University and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice with a Concentration in Homeland Security and Emergency Management from Excelsior College. He received a fellowship at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy.
He has been honored for his service and dedication by the Office of the Attorney General, and was given a Hispanic Heritage Award by members of the Central Falls City Council. He has also received several departmental and individual awards of Congressional Recognition.
As a co-chair of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association’s committee on Civil Rights and a member of Rhode Island Commission on Bias and Prejudice, Chief Mendonca said, “ I want to give a sense of comfort for students.” He believes that trust building within the RIC community is integral.
“The first interaction a students has with campus police should not be getting a parking ticket” said Mendonca in an interview.
Mendonca feels that students should be comfortable on campus, particularly when they see campus police. Building a trusting relationship with students on campus is very important to him, so if there ever is an issue they are willing to come to the campus police, especially regarding any Title IX issue, which prohibits any form of discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, national or ethnic origin, gender, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity or expression, marital, citizenship status or status as a veteran. He wants students, their parents, and faculty to know that the campus police are there for them.
Proving direct, courteous, and efficient service is one of his on campus goals. He plans to open the lines of communication between students, teachers, and campus police to make the college experience a positive and memorable one. If there is a problem he encourages students to let someone know about it, Mendonca said, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Administration may not know about certain problems on campus, “don’t’ worry about bothering us, we are here 24 hours a day, if we can not address it we know or can find out who can.”
Chief Mendonca said, “change happens at the speed of trust” and he wants students and their families to know that he and the other campus police officers are working to gain a trusting and positive relationship with students and faculty members on campus.