Emory taps Rus Drew as new police chief

By Laura Douglas-Brown | Emory Report | Sept. 22, 2016

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Rus Drew has been named Emory's new police chief, effective Nov. 1. Drew comes to Emory from Columbus State University, where he has served as the school's top law enforcement officer for 10 years. Courtesy photo.

More than three decades into his law enforcement career, Rus Drew remains inspired by the simple goal that first motivated him to be a police officer.

"At the end of the day, what we are doing out there is helping people," Drew explains. "Whether it is helping someone cross the street in heavy traffic or solving a significant crime, it is ultimately about being there for people and helping on a very basic level in their day-to-day lives."

Drew has been named Emory's new police chief, effective Nov. 1. He comes to Emory from Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia, where he has served as the school's top law enforcement officer for 10 years.

"Emory has been a long-term goal of mine," he says. "I love policing on a college campus, and to be able to do that not only in Georgia, where I can maintain the contacts and relationships I have spent years building, but at the premier institution in the state — it is absolutely a lifetime opportunity."

Coming to Emory will mark a return to familiar territory for Drew, who worked in the Atlanta area for two decades before becoming police chief at Columbus State in 2006. He served as police chief at Agnes Scott College for 16 years, followed by four years as assistant dean of students and director of campus safety at Oglethorpe University.

Drew holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice administration from Bellevue University and a masters of public administration from Columbus State University. He is a graduate of the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar, the Georgia Law Enforcement Command College and the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government Crisis Leadership in Higher Education program.

Matthew Early, Emory's vice president for Campus Services, describes Drew as an "excellent fit" for the Emory community.

"Chief Drew practices a leadership style that emphasizes a community policing philosophy that integrates crime prevention, problem resolution, and community involvement to provide the support and service deserved by students, employees, and guests of the university community," Early says.

The Emory Police Department has 57 police positions and 23 civilian positions providing services to three campuses: Emory, Oxford and Midtown.

Shared values

Drew will report to Craig Watson, who served as Emory's chief of police from 1995 until February of this year, when he was promoted to assistant vice president for public safety.

The move came as the University consolidated public safety services under the newly created Emory Department of Public Safety, which oversees the delivery of services provided by the Emory Police Department, Fire Safety and Emory Emergency Medical Services.

Like Early, Watson says he is confident that Drew is not only highly qualified as a campus police chief, but also the "right fit" for Emory.

"He has a very high level of integrity and ethics, and a very conscious focus on customer service," Watson says. "That's sometimes hard to find in law enforcement, but in the campus community, that is really what we are — we are service providers, and Rus gets it."

Drew says he recognized early in his career that campus law enforcement is significantly different than traditional policing.

"It is critical for us to realize in policing college campuses that students are encouraged to ask questions and to challenge theories and concepts in the classroom," he says. "So even if it is something as simple as walking out and finding a parking ticket on their car, they are going to articulately make their case."

While traditional law enforcement officers may not have time between calls for such engagement, "in most campus police departments, you have time to respond and talk with the student, and actually be part of the educational mission of the institution," Drew notes.

Emory's new police chief "values what we value," Watson says.

"In Campus Services, our values statement emphasizes 'Do the right thing, do it the right way, do it for the right reason,'" Watson says. "I think Rus Drew embodies that."

Praise from Columbus leaders

Drew has garnered similar praise from leaders at Columbus State University and in the broader law enforcement community.

Last month, CSU President Chris Markwood presented the university's inaugural "Living Our Values" award to the CSU Police Department, led by Drew.

"We established this award as a special recognition for a group that frequently goes beyond what is expected but expects nothing in return — for those unsung heroes who do what they do because they care, not because it’s their job or for any accolades or attention that may come their way," Markwood said during the award presentation.

Ricky Boren, chief of police for the city of Columbus, commended Drew in an interview with the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

“He has done an outstanding job for CSU; and I am confident he will do an outstanding job at Emory," Boren said. "There is no question that our relationship with CSU would not have been as smooth without Rus.”