IUN’s new top cop takes the reins
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent July 10, 2012 5:20PM
New Indiana University Northwest campus Police Chief Patricia Nowak (center) is assisted by her parents, Margie and Robert Wilcox, pinning on her badge after she was sworn in at IUN in Gary, Ind. Tuesday July 10, 2012. Nowak is the first female chief in the Indiana University system. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 12, 2012 6:35AM
GARY — Though Patricia Nowak brings 32 years of law enforcement experience in East Lansing, Mich., the new Indiana University Northwest police chief has no plans to slow down.
Sworn in Tuesday as the first female police chief in the seven-campus, 130-person IU law enforcement system, Nowak wants to keep IUN’s record of having the lowest campus crime rate in the Indiana University system despite its location in a major city.
She succeeds retired IUN Chief Denson Chatfield.
Nowak, though, said she definitely won’t miss the Michigan State basketball season .
“Whenever IU came up there to play, I always hoped they’d beat the Spartans so we wouldn’t have riots,” Nowak said half-jokingly after being sworn in by IU Public Safety Director Jerry Minger. “So I’ve been a fan for a while.”
Glowing recommendations current and former colleagues bestowed ultimately ensured Nowak as the university’s choice, but Minger could see during the interviews and focus groups in which she participated that Nowak was no ordinary candidate.
While many candidates often try to fit their experiences to every condition, Nowak had a much broader scope.
“She had already done her research on the community and had no blinders on. That’s when I saw it was obvious she’d make a good chief,” Minger said.
Former co-worker Detective Lt. John Rojeski, retired from East Lansing Police Department, said Nowak’s feel for the job has always been impressive. The two ran a grand jury at one point and made several large inroads into a drug ring, part of which brought down a local administrative law judge and several other “white-collar” professionals.
“There wasn’t a lot to start with, but she took it from very little evidence to these major arrests,” said Rojeski, who came to Indiana for the ceremony. “She’s a smart investigator.”
Her family — parents Margie and Roger Wilcox, and son Michael Nowak — agreed the new chief has always been a leader and that she’ll run the department of 12 officers with a solid combination of communication and fairness.
“She’s pretty inspiring,” Michael Nowak said.
Nowak holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and psychology, and master’s degrees in criminal justice and social work from Michigan State University.
She also served for more than four years as a facilitator/instructor for Michigan State University’s Executive Law Enforcement Staff and Command, which concentrates on the problem-based learning model to teach police executives how to problem-solve more effectively.