DPS Chief Cook reflects on tenure
May 8, 2011 1 Comment
by Erica Mundell
He was a teacher, a member of a narcotics force and the head of public safety at a university. Now, he’ll be retired. After almost 11
years at Transylvania University, Richard Cook will be retiring from his position as chief of the Department of Public Safety.
To be exact, Cook’s resignation will take effect three days short of a full 11 years that he has worked at Transy. Cook recently submitted his resignation, and his last day in his position will be May 31, 2011.
“After this, I’ve got some motorcycle trips planned. After that, I don’t know what,” Cook said.
Cook has been working every single day since he graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 1972 with his degree in education.
“I worked almost as soon as I got out of college, so it’s about time to take a break,” said Cook.
Before he came to Transy, Cook worked in the education system.
“I taught health, physical education and science,” said Cook.
He was also in the Army for three years and then worked in the narcotics division of the Lexington Police Department for 25 years. Then, it was on to Transy.
Since his arrival here, Cook feels that he has helped the department make significant progress in many areas.
“When I came here, there was tremendous turnover in the guys working here,” said Cook. “I feel like in my time here, I’ve kept guys on staff for seven or eight years. They’re in more permanent positions.”
Cook also feels that he’s raised the respectability and improved the image of the DPS.
During his tenure at Transy, Cook has been through some interesting experiences.
“Though it isn’t necessarily a positive memory, I do remember all the preparation that we had to go through after the Virginia (Polytechnic Institute and State University) shooting,” said Cook. “I was on vacation when it happened, so when I got back I had to jump right in.”
It hasn’t all been somber for Cook. A particularly comedic incident involved a raccoon trying to get into Forrer Hall two years ago.
“There was a rogue raccoon loose in Back Circle,” Cook said. “He looked like he had been hit by a car or injured in some way, and was just scared.”
Cook and other officers pursued the raccoon around the building, finally catching him by throwing a blanket over him.
“He was not happy,” said Cook.
While he has few regrets about his time at Transy, Cook is disappointed that he didn’t get to know more students. Cook said that he made many friends at Transylvania, counting people from the faculty and staff among those friends.
“I just wish that I knew more students better,” Cook said.
“He’s a boss that makes me feel like I can come into work, and (because) I know that I have really good leadership, and knowing at the same time that I have a personal relationship (with him), I can say, ‘Hey Chief, I’ve got some personal things going on — can I take half a day?’ and he’ll be completely understanding,” said Shamara Burton, DPS administrative assistant and Transy alumna.
The search for Cook’s replacement for will start soon; however, the process is still under wraps.
“I’m nervous about getting another person in here,” said Burton. “I don’t think they’ll be as good.”