New Cal Poly Humboldt University Police Chief Greg Allen speaks on the protest

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After several interim chiefs, Cal Poly Humboldt finally has a permanent chief of police. Greg Allen, the new chief, spoke to Redwood News about his new role.

What my vision is today that I have conversations with students, faculty, staff and [let them] get to know who I am so we can figure out how to move forward successfully and avoid big time issues,” Allen said.

Allen explained his thought process when it comes to approaching a new leadership role.

“I think right now is a time for basically assessment and evaluation of all our processes and all our programs that we’re doing right now to see if we do need to improve on some of our programs to see if they’re efficient, if we’re doing them the most effective way that we can do them—see if it could be an innovative way to do things different and all that’s in play right now,” Allen said.

Allen said that his hiring process began at the beginning of the year but he wasn’t brought on until May 30, a month after the pro-Palestine protest and almost three weeks after graduation. Allen shared what he thought about the protest, as he was one of the responding officers on April 22, the night the protest began.

“What I saw was most of the people out there protesting were doing it legally and lawfully. You always have when you have big protests like that, you have a very few that come and decide to cross that line to where now you make it illegal,” Allen said. “There has to be some type of response because now we’re talking about safety, accessibility for everybody on campus and so it’s hard to determine what at this point I would have done differently.”

Allen expressed the importance of protecting First Amendment rights while still observing the law.

“It’s unfortunate it got to that point. It is hard to prevent illegal activity. If somebody wants to do something then that’s their choice. Then there’s got to be consequences to that. We want to work with people. When we have a protest we want to be able to protect that First Amendment right,” Allen said. “We also want to be able to make it accessible to everybody because there’s always two sides to the story. We want to be basically making a safe environment for everybody to do that peacefully. I think that I still have to look to figure out what was actually done and why it was done. So all that stuff is being reviewed as we speak.”

Allen said that his two main priorities are communication and community.

“Community engagement will always be a priority, and that’s a priority in all law enforcement. Engaging with your own community to understand their wants and needs, as well as to explain some of the things that you do and why you do those things,” Allen said. “Communication; whether that’s written or oral, we have to communicate effectively. Even if those conversations that we don’t agree on things, we have to have those kind of difficult conversations to basically understand each other and get the job done.”

Allen wants a safe and engaged campus.

“My plan and my hope is that we can have a safe campus with community involvement, because what we need is somebody saying, ‘hey, this is not a safe environment, because,’” Allen said. “If we don’t know that there’s something going on, then we can’t fix the problem.”

Allen ran track and played football for Humboldt State and graduated with a degree in social work in 1994.