Public Safety director learns from FBI conference

May 20, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

The FBI’s National Command Course drew police chiefs from all over the country, including GCU’s Michael Caputo.

By Cassandra Coria  
GCU News Bureau 

Michael Caputo, Grand Canyon University’s Director of Public Safety, attended the FBI’s National Command Course in early May in Quantico, Virginia.  

This once-in-a-career opportunity was for police chiefs from all over the country, but Caputo was the only one from Arizona. The course was created for small agencies (50 or fewer officers), which comprise 87% of all police departments in the country, and topics included best practices, leadership and current trends in policing.  

Michael Caputo

The weeklong summit was eye-opening for Caputo even though he has been in law enforcement for 28 years. He worked for the city of Flagstaff for five years and the FBI for 22 years, closing that part of his career as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the state of Arizona.  

“I’m getting back into policing a community, or in this case, a University,” he said. “It was neat for me to go into the training side and go back and be a student.”  

The highlight for Caputo was sharing ideas with other chiefs.

“When you get to pick their brains on what is working well for them or something they are implementing in their city or counties, it’s hugely beneficial,” he said.  

Hiring and retention is an ongoing concern at police departments. There also were discussions of current social issues and the relationship between police and communities.   

“We really take it personally, the safety of the students. We look at them as if they’re our own children,” Caputo said.  

There was a larger discussion on mental health.

“Coming out of what we’ve had to deal with, especially with the pandemic, with people’s lives being changed as much as they were. I really think there’s a lot of people really hurting out there, and that includes our students,” he said.

“Then you add other stresses that students aren’t used to dealing with – the stress of tests, the stresses of social life, making new friends, being away from home. I think a lot of times that can be overwhelming. We need to understand and have good procedures in place.” 

Caputo has firsthand experience. One of his children is a GCU alum and another is a senior.  

“Many of our police officers have children of their own that attend the University. We all have a connection here to this campus,” he said.   

“We take it personally that it is our job to protect our students and protect our faculty and to try to make this University the safest place it can possibly be.” 

One of the speakers at the conference was General John Kelly, Chief of Staff and Secretary of Homeland Security for former President Donald Trump. The four-star general in the Marines spent over 40 years in the military and was able to give Caputo specific takeaways about policing.  

“I really enjoyed how they got in depth about the constitutionality of policing,” he said. “They brought in a constitutional law expert to come in and talk to us about some specific issues going on in society and where we as leaders need to be up to speed, moving forward.” 

Caputo plans to share those ideas with his staff. 

“I really want to think a lot harder on wellness and how we deal with wellness among our officers,” he said. “I really want to take a harder look at some of the mental health issues as it pertains to policing because we see that on campus and on the perimeter of campus when we’re dealing with some of the crime issues as well.” 


Related content:

GCU Today: Slideshow: School Safety Summit

GCU Today: Public Safety leaders retire after serving with smiles






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