KINGSTON, R.I. – May 5, 2015 — The University of Rhode Island has appointed a decorated Connecticut State Police commander with 22 years of law enforcement experience to be the University’s new police major.
Michael A. Jagoda, a 1991 graduate of URI, will supervise the day-to-day operations and the 27 sworn officers of the University Police Department. He will also manage URI’s 18 security personnel spread over three campuses.
Prior to starting his work at URI last week, he served as the commanding officer/lieutenant of the Bridgeport, Conn. State Police barracks, where he managed 102 sworn officers and civilian personnel since 2011. In that position, he oversaw police services for 21 cities and towns with a total population of 1.33 million people. Yale University, the University of New Haven, Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University were all in his jurisdiction. Jagoda began his career with the Connecticut State Police in 1993.
He was the commander in charge of the Connecticut State Police command post during the mass shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in 2012. His duties included coordinating emergency services, local and federal law enforcement and emergency management agencies. For his service, Jagoda was awarded the Sandy Hook Elementary School Meritorious Commendation.
Since 2005, Jagoda was the operations/executive officer at Rentschler Field, a post he held simultaneously with his job in Bridgeport for the last four years. Rentschler Field is the 40,000-seat, East Hartford stadium that is home to University of Connecticut football and other major athletic and entertainment events.
He arrives at URI at a historic moment, with the arming of URI Police officers this week after years of discussion and preparation.
“We are proud and pleased that Major Jagoda has joined our campus community to help lead our Police Department during this important transition from an unarmed department to one that has been extensively trained and is now fully equipped to be first-responders in every sense of the term,” URI President David M. Dooley said. “It’s an honor to welcome back one of our own who has distinguished himself in all phases of police work. He will not only be a critical part of our public safety efforts, but also an inspiration to students who want to pursue law enforcement careers when they complete their degrees at URI.”
His selection was the result of a national search that attracted candidates from as far away as Puerto Rico.
Christina Valentino, vice president for administration and finance, said all groups that met with Jagoda during his interviews were pleased with his open and friendly approach.
“We were very impressed with Mike’s interest in becoming involved with all facets of the University community and that he wants URI’s police officers to connect with the numerous constituents of the campus aspects of the campus. He wants URI police personnel to be engaged and involved in campus life, including serving on various campus committees,” Valentino said.
“Major Jagoda held a variety of leadership positions during his career, first in small, rural areas and then finally in a major metropolitan area of Connecticut,” said URI Public Safety Director and search committee chair Stephen Baker, the first to hold the major’s post at URI. “Mike has such extensive experience in all phases of police work and emergency response that he stood out.
In his new role at URI, he will assist the public safety director in planning, organizing, directing and coordinating community policing services and all law enforcement activities and operations of the police and security divisions. He will plan, administer and carry out continuing programs with students, faculty, staff and residents of the surrounding area to promote public safety and improve community relations. He will oversee law enforcement activities for special events involving large crowds and be responsible for equipment maintenance, including firearms.
A recipient of a bachelor’s degree in consumer affairs from URI, Jagoda said he was inspired by the work of Ralph Nader while he was on campus. “I wanted to go to work for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. But during summers in Wallingford, I also volunteered with fire and rescue services. I saw law enforcement and public safety as careers in which I could make a difference.”
Jagoda said he is grateful to be returning to the University that helped him develop as an adult. “So many professors and fellow students had a positive effect on me. They helped open my mind and make me the person I am today.
“I want to meet with every member of the police force individually as well as the stakeholders at URI to hear what they have to say,” Jagoda said. “I come from the third largest law enforcement agency in New England. The Connecticut State Police is a very progressive agency and I want to bring those ideas to URI.”
Jagoda’s wife Amy also graduated from URI with a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders. The couple has a daughter at Springfield College and twin daughters in high school.
A MAJOR APPOINTMENT: Former Connecticut State Police Cmdr. Michael A. Jagoda, a 1991 graduate of URI, poses near a URI police cruiser as he begins his duties. URI photo by Nora Lewis.