Saturday, July 20, 2024

W&M Police Chief Takes Job in South Dakota; Interim Chief Named

Don Challis

After more than 10 years as police chief at the College of William & Mary, Don Challis is leaving.

Challis took a job with South Dakota State University as assistant vice president for safety management, where he will be in charge of emergency management, the police department and environmental health and safety. He said the new job is a good career opportunity that will take him back to his roots in the Great Plains.

“It wasn’t an easy choice. This is a great place to work,” Challis said. “But this is a chance to go home.”

Capt. Ed Schardein, who has been with the department for almost five years, has been named acting chief effective starting next month. He will remain in that capacity until a new chief is named.

Challis grew up in Tipton, Iowa, a town of about 3,200 situated about seven hours southeast of Brookings, S.D. where South Dakota State is located. He went to college about 40 minutes away at Iowa State, studying to become a teacher and taking up a job as a campus security guard to pay for college.

Twenty-six years after deciding to nix his path to the classroom, Challis is still in law enforcement. He worked in Iowa City, Davenport and Chicago – and in 2003, he found himself in the campus police chief position at the College of William & Mary three days before Hurricane Isabel.

It was the type of start he said he did not wish for his successor, although it offered some unique networking opportunities.

“I spent much of the following days ‘bunkered’ with the senior administrators of the college,” Challis said in a news release.

Challis first decided he wanted to work for W&M in 2001 when he was on campus for a conference. He describes his leadership style as “relationship-based,” saying developing relationships with the people he works with makes it easier to resolve conflicts when they arise. Under his leadership, W&M was able to expand its emergency operations procedures and align them with the National Incident Management System and Incident Command System guidelines.

“Don has become an invaluable colleague in the William & Mary community,” Vice President for Administration Anna Martin said in a news release.

Challis’ community engagement traversed beyond the W&M campus, as he served as an executive board member of the Hampton Roads Criminal Justice Training Academy, a board member of the Hampton Roads Law Enforcement Information Exchange and a member of the Governor’s School and Campus Safety Committee and Mental Health Task Force. He also served as a past president of the Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

While he said he would miss the people he has come to know in the community through his many roles, there was one thing Challis said he would not miss about Williamsburg.

“The humidity,” he said.

Schardein served on the Portsmouth Police Department for 22 years. He retired as a captain in charge of special operations, placing narcotics, SWAT, canine and several other facets of the department under his purview. He is currently serving as Challis’ deputy chief, where he manages the day-to-day operations of the department.

“I’ve really enjoyed working here, and cross my fingers, hope to become the full-time chief,” Schardein said.

The William & Mary Police Department consists of about 27 officers, three security officers and six support staff. The department provides law enforcement services for the campus and also has a mutual-aid agreement with the City of Williamsburg, which allows William & Mary officers to assist the Williamsburg Police Department on calls.

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