Pittsburg State University - Pittsburg, Kansas
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News @ PSU

News and information from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

PSU Police Director to retire, replacement announced

After more than three decades leading the police force at Pittsburg State University, the director of Police and Parking Services is stepping down.

Howard “Butch” Herring, who has served the office for nearly 32 years, will retire October 1. Herring will be succeeded by PSU Police Sergeant Mike McCracken.

Herring began his career in law enforcement at the age of 19, when he went to work for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department as a cadet. After earning his certification through the department’s academy, he took a position there as a patrolman. After three years, he moved to the Florissant (Mo.) Police Department, where he worked as an officer. Herring came to PSU in 1977 as assistant director of Police and Parking Services, and was promoted to the director position in 2004.

Herring received an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Wichita State University in 1983. He is active with the Pittsburg Crisis Resource Center and serves on the executive board of the Southeast Kansas Drug Task Force, a position McCracken will acquire.

Herring says he’s seen a lot of changes during his career, primarily in the areas of police equipment.

“It’s a whole different world when it comes to the technology we use,” said Herring, who was recognized as an Employee of the Year finalist in 1997. He was instrumental in computerizing the parking services office, making PSU only the second university in the state to do so. “In the past 10 years especially, we’re seeing technology affect law enforcement in hundreds of ways.”

The PSU police force is one of the largest in the county, with 13 full-time, certified officers and 11 support staff. The department works independently in most cases, typically only requesting the assistance of outside agencies in cases that require crime scene processing or other advanced resources.

Working with a population primarily between the ages of 18 and 22 presents some unique challenges, said Herring, but he has encouraged his department to be good stewards and to interact with students on a day-to-day basis. Parking issues are the department’s biggest struggle, due to the landlocked nature of the campus.

“We know the students are here to get an education, and that if they weren’t here, we wouldn’t be here,” Herring said. “The students I see coming to college today are here because they have things they want to accomplish in their lives.”
Steve Erwin, PSU vice president for campus life and auxiliary services, says Herring’s experience has played a major role in the safety of the campus.

“His work has assured that we have a quality police force that is community oriented and focused on student success,” Erwin said. “He will be greatly missed. We wish him and his family all the best in his retirement.”

Sgt. McCracken, who has been a night patrolman with the department since 1997, earned a bachelor’s degree in justice studies from PSU in 2002. He previously worked as a patrolman for the Girard Police Department, a deputy for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, and as a trooper for the Kansas Highway Patrol.

McCracken serves as an adviser with the Collegiate Management Institute, and is a member of the Kansas Peace Officers Association, the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Knights of Columbus.

“I’m excited at the chance to do some new things and to work with the university on the crisis response plan, as well as getting us where we need to be as far as emergency preparedness,” said McCracken, whose rank will change to captain with the promotion.

A reception honoring Herring’s career will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4, in the Heritage Room of the Overman Student Center on the PSU campus.
Top photo: PSU Police Director Howard "Butch" Herring. Bottom photo: PSU Police Sergeant Mike McCracken.

---Pitt State---