ASU assistant police chief transitions to new university role
Arizona State University assistant police chief Allen Clark is taking on new challenges in his career as he transitions to ASU’s director of emergency preparedness.
With a strong track record of training first responders throughout the university and the country on emergency operations, Clark will focus initially on preparedness initiatives, including planning for restoration of normal operations after an incident occurs.
“I’m excited about expanding my career in emergency preparation to include additional aspects other than those of a first responder,” Clark said. “It’s a brand new position.”
ASU’s Police Department has been Clark’s employer since 1989. He joined the department after working as an officer in Huachuca City, Ariz., and as a law enforcement specialist/security forces officer for the Arizona Air National Guard. During his ASU police career, Clark climbed the ranks from a patrol officer to corporal, sergeant, commander and was named assistant chief in 2007.
“Allen has made some great contributions to law enforcement and ASU,” said ASU Police Department Chief John Pickens. “It has been a pleasure working with him. Because of his dedication and commitment, we are a better agency. I wish him continued success in his new position.”
Highlights during Clark’s career have been numerous. He spearheaded a firearms program overhaul in 1993 to provide updated equipment and training opportunities for department staff. He planned security operations for Super Bowls and dignitary visits including the 2009 commencement with President Barack Obama. He co-chaired a committee to review the Virginia Tech shootings and served on an awards committee for police department personnel. Clark particularly enjoyed his time as a sergeant in the department as it enabled him to directly mentor officers he supervised while working on administrative matters.
One of his most memorable moments occurred in 2000 when he was a sergeant. He approached a vehicle in a dark off-campus parking lot and apprehended a man for attempting to rape a woman. He discovered that the suspect was wanted in Texas and that the vehicle he was in was connected to a homicide from another state.
“I just happened to be at the right place at the right time,” he said.
Other instances are memorable for different reasons, such as the time he took his mother for a “ride-along” so she could see what her son did on the job. After apprehending a suspected drunk driver and placing her in the back of his patrol car, he began to process the suspect’s vehicle for evidence. He returned to his car several minutes later only to find his mother hugging and consoling the crying woman.
During his years at the department, Clark also has developed a positive working relationship with the university community. One of the hallmarks of a university police department is working with administration and other departments to enhance the educational environment.
“Though it may not always seem apparent, we are very oriented to student success,” he said. “ASU and the police department foster an environment of free speech, assembly and the right of young people to mature into adults. Unfortunately, there are times when the maturation process conflicts with state laws and our involvement is required.”
As the university continues to grow, Clark has helped facilitate keeping pace with the community policing needs of students, faculty and staff by leveraging technology and cutting-edge processes.
“Nearly six months before other Valley police departments began studying the use of 13-hour shifts, our department had implemented the shift and began an in-depth study of its effects on our personnel. The administration has been very supportive when studying new systems, and has funded technology that helps the department succeed in a very dynamic environment,” he said.
Clark has appreciated the support of top university administrators throughout his years in the police department.
“As most have witnessed at one time or another, there is never a time when the university is idle,” he said. “In that regard, we’ve appreciated the support from President Michael Crow, Morgan Olsen, and several other ASU administrators when advancing the ASU Police Department to one of the best in the nation. Dr. Crow has always been one of our greatest proponents.”
Clark, who starts in his new position July 2, said he’ll miss the people from the police department, but is looking forward to expanding his role in emergency preparedness.
“It’s been a very fulfilling career,” he said. “It’s time to take it to the next level.”