Donald Webster To Lead Campus Safety
Former Deputy Chief of Public Safety Joins KPS
During Donald Webster’s 25 years with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, his title was everything from neighborhood liaison officer to tactical response unit officer to deputy chief. But, he says his main job was always the same: relationship building.
And, that is exactly what he sees as his main job as the new chief of campus safety with Kalamazoo Public Schools.
Webster joined KPS this summer, replacing Ray Ampey, who retired this year.
Webster, 49, said he didn’t always have great experiences with police officers as he was growing up on the south side of Chicago, but the good encounters had a positive impact.
“The experiences I had were engaging,” Webster said. “They took time to talk to you and to share some life experiences with me when I was growing up. And, they were pleasant to be around. And, my mom and dad always taught me to respect law enforcement.”
That — and the sharp-looking Illinois State Highway Patrol uniforms — inspired him to study criminal justice at Michigan State University. He graduated in 1992 and was thinking about going to law school, when he met Ampey, who visited MSU on a recruiting trip for Kalamazoo Public Safety.
Webster said he was intrigued by the concept of joining the public safety department in which officers cross-train as police, firefighters, and paramedics.
Over the next 25 years, Webster rose through the ranks of the department, serving as — among other things — patrol officer, neighborhood liaison officer, tactical response unit officer, patrol sergeant, tactical response unit sergeant, patrol lieutenant, executive lieutenant, captain of the training division, assistant chief and deputy chief.
“It is the most rewarding job you can ever have — to provide a much-needed service to an individual,” Webster said. “And to deliver that service in a way that the community expects it to be delivered — with professionalism and respect.”
That approach won’t change with his role as campus safety chief, he said. Students need as much respect and support as any other members of the community, he said.
“My philosophy is no different with the security staff than I had with public safety,” Webster said. “The guiding philosophy is that you are building relationships every day you come to work. We are here engaging the students and getting to know the students”
He said he commends Ampey for the work he’s done with the district, not only for the work he’s done with the students but with law enforcement agencies in the area. Having strong lines of communication between the schools and law enforcement means better community safety overall, he said.
“Our schools are a reflection of the community,” he said. “A lot of things that happen in the schools originate in the community. We need to be proactive and communicate with law enforcement.”
Webster is married to Chandra Webster. His daughter Demetria is a junior in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University and his son Devin is a sixth grader at Linden Grove Middle School. Webster is a member of First United Baptist Church and is active on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Kalamazoo, board chairman of the Douglass Community Association, and a coach for Northside Rocket Football and a youth basketball coach for the YMCA.
“Do I like kids?” Webster said. “I love kids. You have to love kids.
“Speaking on behalf of campus safety, I want to say we’re here to encourage kids and to help them, and if kids or parents have concerns, feel free to contact campus safety.”