University of Connecticut (UConn) Police Chief Barbara O’Connor will receive the Woman Law Enforcement Executive of the Year (WoLEEY) Award tomorrow, jointly sponsored by the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE) and Motorola Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MSI). Jackie Wasni, vice president of Sales and Services for Motorola, established the award 10 years ago to recognize women in law enforcement who have succeeded in their own career and mentored other female law enforcement professionals. The award will be presented on Aug. 3 at the annual NAWLEE conference held in Austin, Texas.
O’Connor is currently the director of Public Safety/chief of Police for UConn, leading both police and fire personnel. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State College, a master’s degree in Labor Relations from the University of Massachusetts, and a law degree from the Western New England College of Law. She began her law enforcement career in 1983.
Chief O’Connor has led three university police departments. From 2001-09, she was the chief of Police for the University of Massachusetts and well-received as a “street-cop” who worked her way through the ranks. Her background and education have added to her credibility and fair approach to officers’ concerns.
In 2009, she was appointed executive director of Public Safety/chief of Police for the University of Illinois (UI). Chief O’Connor fought to increase the police department’s budget and number of officers. At a time when most other campus units were cutting back, she increased the sworn staffing by almost 20 percent. She also implemented a campus safety camera program with more than 700 integrated cameras monitored by the police department. After a series of break-ins to campus housing, O’Connor instituted a security guard program which helped quell fears and prevent future incidents.Under Chief O’Connor, the UI police department greatly improved its Clery Act reporting requirements, began the accreditation process and received a grant for a crime analysis unit. She restructured the department and made community policing an activity for officers and all levels of command. Chief O’Connor’s breadth of knowledge and ability to apply what she learned at previous departments led to positive change for the UI.
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