New chief brings years of law enforcement experience to UB


Published April 25, 2024

UPD Chief Kim Beaty.

Growing up in Buffalo’s Cold Springs neighborhood, Kim Beaty never imagined a career in law enforcement.

But after three decades in the Buffalo Police Department and five years as director of public safety at Canisius University, Beaty is still at it and taking on her latest challenge: chief of police at UB.

“I never thought I would stay a long time in law enforcement because it wasn’t my life’s dream,” Beaty says. “But I ended up loving it. Law enforcement has been a career of a lifetime.”

Beaty took over as UB police chief on Nov. 16, responsible for managing, planning and directing the law enforcement activities of 72 staff serving some 40,000 people across three campuses.

She brings with her a “breadth and depth” of experience accumulated while climbing the ranks of the Buffalo Police Department, where she started as a patrol officer and retired as deputy commissioner of operations and homeland security after 31 years on the force.

That included time as a community policing officer, when she learned how to gain the trust of activists in the neighborhoods, and as a trainer in the police academy, when she found her niche teaching future officers.

As a lieutenant, she recognized the importance of diversity within the ranks and spearheaded a recruiting program. Prior to her appointment as deputy commissioner, Beaty was chief of E District, which encompasses some of the toughest neighborhoods in the city.

Her shift into higher education in 2018 has been enjoyable. Beaty headed up public safety at her alma mater, Canisius, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s in higher education and student affairs.

At UB, Beaty is still getting acquainted with the students, faculty and staff, as well as the sheer size of the university and the SUNY system. But she wants to continue to place an emphasis on community policing and promoting crime prevention and safety awareness on and around UB’s campuses.

“People want to feel safe, but I want them not just to feel safe — but to be safe,” she says.

Beaty also wants to keep building upon the success of a department that prides itself on its professionalism. That, she says, will mean some strategic changes within the department.

“Change is always hard, but it also brings growth and that’s what I’m looking for,” she says.

Beaty lives in Lancaster with her husband, Vernon, who is also retired from the Buffalo Police Department. She has a stepson, also Vernon, and a daughter, Kayla.

UBNow recently caught up with Beaty at her office in Bissell Hall, where she talked about being the only girl in a military family of six siblings; how she climbed the ladder in a male-dominated field; and her carpentry skills.

The interview was edited for length and clarity:

You said you didn’t want to be a police officer growing up. Why?

The police were not always superheroes and friendly in the neighborhoods where I grew up. Not that they had to be friendly, but I thought they should at least be approachable. One night, police barged into our house and things did not end well. That’s why I never thought I would go into a career in law enforcement, because I didn’t have a lot of faith in the system. Now, I do this to be a part of positive change.

So, what career were you interested in and what changed your mind about law enforcement?

I thought I would enjoy working in the media, so that’s what I went to school for. My dream job was to be a news reporter and I really thought that’s what I was going to do.

But while at Canisius, I would see this older gentleman recruiting for the police department. He would say, ‘We don’t have a lot of women working in the police department and we need women. Why don’t you join?’ I decided to take the civil service test, did very well and never looked back. Once I became a part of it, I grew to enjoy it. Ever since, I’ve been an advocate for women in leadership; equity, diversity and inclusion; community policing; and training for law enforcement.

What are issues at the forefront of your mind as a police chief on a big university campus?

Mental health. Active-shooter response. Relationship building.

If I had to put those in order I would say, No. 1 building relationships and No. 2 mental health, because mental health has everything to do with active shooter and safety. Safety is the big circle around all of those.

Do you have a philosophy you bring to the job?

Yes. Be patient, because some things don’t happen as fast as you want them to. Be kind, but you also have to be firm. Treat people with dignity and respect. Leaders have to be able to make decisions. You also have to be careful what you say — but you have to mean what you say.

How would you describe your leadership style?

It depends on the situation, but I would say I’m a transformational leader. I am authoritative as well as open-minded. I am a listener who wants to gain understanding about how people feel about things. I want others to learn.

I’ll say it this way: I’ll give people all of what they need and some of what they want.

What do you like to do when you’re not being the police chief?

I like to walk. That’s my way to exercise. I used to like to shop, but COVID and the changes in our society have changed my mind on that, so sometimes I’ll shop online. I’m not a television person, either, but if somebody tells me there’s a good show streaming on TV, I will binge watch if I have time.

A lot of people don’t know this, but I like to build things — like cabinets and shelving. I’m not a professional at it, but it helps relax me. I also like figuring things out, from something as simple as a puzzle to something as major as a crime. I like to find answers — and I like to know the why.