Former Piqua police chief honored again

PIQUA — Less than three months after adding a national award to his long list of accolades, former Piqua Police Chief Wayne R. Willcox has yet another feather in his cap — this one an international honor.

The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) presented Willcox, now chief of police at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Ga., with the 2015 Award for Administrative Excellence on June 30 in Nashville.

“I am grateful to be this year’s recipient,” Willcox said. “To receive such a recognition is a distinct honor.”

The Award for Administrative Excellence is presented to an IACLEA member or employee of an IACLEA member campus public safety, police, or security department for outstanding service in such areas as policy and planning, investigations and/or crime prevention. New and innovative ideas, cost savings, enhanced administrative techniques, and management ideas are some of the elements that are considered for award selection.

In late April, Willcox was given a Federal 100 Award, which is presented to government, industry and academic leaders who have played pivotal roles affecting how the federal government acquires, develops and manages IT, and who have transformed or accelerated their agency’s mission.

Willcox said the IACLEA award is an affirmation of the hard work of Armstrong’s police department, which he describes as being “in turmoil” when he took over in 2009.

“The department lacked direction and had lost its connection to the community,” he said.

Consequently, Willcox assumed his new position with two primary goals. First, he wanted to establish the department as a “legitimate member of the criminal justice community,” he said.

“Secondly, we wanted the department to be relevant in the community it serves. (Armstrong’s) mission is to educate our students and the police department has to play a role in that.”

One of the opportunities he saw at the school was a fledgling program with the Cyber Security Research Institute that allowed a small university police force to become the state’s largest forensic digital operation, working with the FBI and other federal government agencies, as well as agencies on the state, municipal, county and local levels.

“We’ve made digital forensics open to the mass market,” Willcox said.

In addition, Armstrong’s police department offers a 13-week program for students to work with officers in the lab and receive certification at the end of their internships. The department also is opening a new cyber security lab in the fall to teach students to defend against network attacks and trace them back to the perpetrators.

“We’ve reached out to the criminal justice and computer science folks … to help students get actual skills they can use after they graduate,” Willcox noted. “We have to step forward and find ways to effectively deal with these problems.

Willcox began as an officer with the Piqua police department in 1972 and rose through the ranks to become chief in 2006. He credits his 37 years with the Piqua PD for giving him the tools to succeed at Armstrong.

“I have some great roots in Piqua. If it hadn’t been for certain folks in the Piqua PD, I would never have picked up the skill sets for my current position,” he said. “I credit them for developing my ability to pick out opportunities and for my problem-solving skills. Piqua has an awful lot of influence.”