BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Since joining University Police as chief in
July 2006, Jerry Schoenle has brought a level of professionalism to
the University at Buffalo that has inspired improvements in his own
and other SUNY departments.
Among his accomplishments: leading University Police through a
successful bid in 2007 to become the first SUNY police department
to earn accreditation from the New York State Division of Criminal
Schoenle credits the men and women of University Police with
pushing for and embracing change. During the process, he worked
with fellow officers to develop 80 new policies and procedures,
post those written rules on the unit's intranet and institute a
system that enables officers to disseminate emergency warnings on
the Web and via e-mail.
Energized by Schoenle and University Police, police at other
SUNY institutions are now pursuing accreditation, too.
"What really got us rolling was Jerry," says Steven Dangler,
chief of SUNY Cortland's police department, which is now in the
final phase of the state accreditation process. "Accreditation
helps make you more professional and it assists the officers by
making regulations and policies available at their fingertips. Not
only did Jerry inspire us, he helped us in really getting through
it. If we have any questions, he's more than willing to answer
"Jerry has been a leader, a starter in accreditation efforts
within SUNY," says Bart Ingersoll, president of the SUNY Police
Chiefs Association and chief of police at SUNY College at Oneonta.
"Jerry has been a breath of fresh air breathed into this
organization with his vision and leadership."
Schoenle, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal
justice, began his career in public service as an aircraft
maintenance specialist in the Air Force in the 1970s. He jokes that
he has worn a uniform since he was 18.
A native of Buffalo and surrounding suburbs, Schoenle served
with the Buffalo Police Department from 1980 to 2000, rising from
patrolman to captain of communications and administration. His
duties over the years included conducting preliminary
investigations of alleged crimes, supervising patrol officers and
patrol supervisors, leading hostage-negotiation and
dignitary-protection teams, and managing technology projects,
including placing computers in every police car.
Following his two-decade stint with Buffalo Police, Schoenle
served for five years as director of public safety training for
Erie County Central Police Services, and for one year as assistant
chief of police in Arlington, Texas. UB named him chief after
conducting a national search that attracted many highly qualified
"I've had so many law enforcement jobs," Schoenle says. "I love
public service, I like working with people and I like the
flexibility of the career. It's wide open. I've had so many
different opportunities and so much excellent training. I went to
the FBI national academy, a three-month program for law enforcement
managers. You never go stagnant in the field. I feel I've had a
progressively successful career."
Besides initiating and providing leadership during
accreditation, Schoenle has overseen an array of day-to-day changes
that are helping to keep students and other members of the
university community safer.
On Schoenle's watch, the department has instituted a joint bike
detail with the Buffalo Police Department, with two officers from
each department patrolling Main Street near the South Campus on
Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The patrols began at the
start of the fall semester, run through late October and then
resume again when the weather begins to warm.
When Schoenle and fellow officers noticed a rash of on-campus
car break-ins, they stepped up patrols, caught some thieves and
started distributing vehicle "report cards," assigning "fail"
grades to drivers who left navigation devices, iPods, laptops or
other expensive items in unattended vehicles. The purpose of the
operation was to educate faculty, staff and students about how they
could protect themselves. Schoenle says the rash of break-ins ended
shortly after the department implemented its problem-solving
And Schoenle and the department are not done yet. Next up for
University Police: national accreditation. Only a fraction of law
enforcement units achieve state accreditation, and national
accreditation is even rarer. But that distinction is one Schoenle
believes is worth pursuing. He notes that in a report following the
Virginia Tech massacre, the National Association of Attorneys
General recommended accreditation as one measure that could help
school public safety departments keep campuses safe.
"It makes you that much better of a police department," Schoenle
says. "We constantly strive to improve ourselves, which means we're
holding ourselves to a higher standard than some of our peer
institutions. Meeting the highest standards and adopting best
practices help us prepare for emergencies and provide quality
policing on a daily basis."
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.