The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


SMU Police Chief leaving for Afghanistan

For the past 13 years Michael Snellgrove has spent his days trying to ensure the safety of students at SMU. That is about to change.

In a few months, Snellgrove, SMU’s police chief since 2003, will leave for Afghanistan to help train police as part of that country’s reconstruction.

“For me, it’s a career building opportunity,” said Snellgrove, 47. “This will help me with my long-term goal, which is to be a security consultant for a global wide security-consulting firm, a protection specialist. I think this will give me that broadening that I need because all I’ve done, other than my military experience, is law enforcement.”

Snellgrove has been with the SMU Police Department since 1994. He has enjoyed the experience but said it’s time to move on.

Snellgrove said the position is contracted through an international company.

“The mission is to advise, train and mentor new recruits for the Afghan National Police. I must be prepared to work anywhere in the country where I am needed,” he said in an email.

“It’s a very exciting career move for me,” he said. “And I have the opportunity to do it when I’m still young enough that I can go to an area that is considered a war zone. I have the depth of experience now to call upon that; I think I can do a very good job.”

Snellgrove got into law enforcement by accident.

“I always wanted to be a pilot,” he said. “I got my commercial pilot’s license when I was 19 and flew for a construction company. Then I was hired as a charter by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to fly a couple of agents looking for a marijuana grower. We found him and got into the pursuit of this guy as the agents called the Georgia State Patrol. I was orbiting over this guy and we chased him for about 70 miles. It made law enforcement interesting and fun.”

Snellgrove attended Valdosta State University and graduated with a degree in criminal justice. He joined the Air Force after college and was made commanding officer of a police unit there.

One day, a friend-the SMU chief of police-suggested that Snellgrove apply for a job at SMU. He got the job and never looked back.

“I came out and liked what I saw,” he said. “It was a good move. I haven’t regretted it.”

During his tenure at SMU, Snellgrove initiated many programs to improve security. Under his tenure, security cameras were installed on campus and gate arms for the parking lots were put up. He helped develop the Giddy Up program, a campus security escort service that is part of Hilltop Watch, SMU’s crime watch program. Giddy Up provides carts for free rides all over campus seven days a week from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Snellgrove also strengthened the system of notifying students when sexual assaults and other violent crimes are reported on or near the campus, a policy that goes beyond what is required by federal law.

“We try to keep our students informed of crimes that involve students,” he said. “We do a better job of keeping the community informed of crimes that occur around campus, not just crimes that happen on campus. We will report as much information as we can as long as it doesn’t jeopardize the investigation. For example, we will put up an off-campus crime alert if we hear of a crime in the Village area where many students live. I was part of that decision process.”

SMU officials have not chosen a new police chief. Snellgrove said that whoever gets the job could face a major new challenge-providing security for the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Snellgrove said that if this happens, the SMU Police Department will face a host of tasks: assisting in the construction planning, helping with traffic control, increasing the size of the police force to provide security for the library and the campus community.

“One of the biggest challenges will be the security issues involved with the protection of a presidential library and continuing to provide the top level of security for the community,” Snellgrove said.

SMU officials will host a farewell reception for Snellgrove at Gerald J. Ford Stadium beginning at 3 p.m. today.

The outgoing police chief said he has enjoyed working at SMU, but that he is eager to tackle a new challenge.

“I love this place. SMU is a wonderful part of my life,” he said. “But for my long-term goals, this may be the only opportunity I may have to get this particular type of experience, and so I had to seize the moment.”

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