Blake Wood
Publish Date

Veteran University of Illinois Springfield Police Officer Ross Owens of Springfield has been named the new UIS Police Chief, pending University of Illinois Board of Trustees approval. Owens has worked for the UIS Police Department for 22 years, having most recently served as the interim police chief since January 2021.

He will serve as the chief law enforcement officer for the 700-acre UIS campus with oversight over 23 personnel, including 16 sworn officers charged with protecting and prioritizing the health, safety and security of a diverse body of University of Illinois Springfield students, faculty, staff and visitors.

Owens will be responsible for the direction of all police activities utilizing best-practice approaches for collegiate community policing, including developing and implementing programs that maintain the trust of the community and creates a positive relationship within the department. He will also contribute to the university’s anti-racism and social justice priorities.

“The entire UIS community has been so supportive of me through this entire process, it's truly been a humbling experience,” Owens said. “I'm grateful for the opportunity to lead the UIS Police Department into the future, and growing into a more collaborative and transparent pillar of our community.”

Owens has been involved in training the UIS community on preparedness measures regarding active shooter threats and has planned, implemented and evaluated drills held on campus. He also regularly engages with students, speaking at events for new students and taking part in informal activities, such as pastries with police, which give students a chance to learn more about the UIS Police Department and ask questions.

“Chief Owens cares deeply about UIS and has a great understanding of and commitment to the campus community,” said UIS Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney. “He is someone who can be trusted by our students, faculty and staff to provide the oversight and accountability for our university’s safety from a community policing perspective.”

Owens started working for the UIS Police Department as a dispatcher in 1999. In 2006, he became a UIS Police officer and was promoted to sergeant in 2015, lieutenant in 2018 and captain in 2019.

He is a UIS alum, having earned two bachelor’s degrees in business administration and management from UIS in 2008. In 2019, he graduated from the School of Police Staff and Command at Northwestern University, a 10-week program that provides upper-level college instruction for leaders in law enforcement.

He is a certified Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officer and is trained in mental health and high-tech investigation techniques. He and has served as UIS’ Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) coordinator and has attended numerous National Incident Management System (NIMS), Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS), Law Enforcement Training Advisory Commission (LETAC), Public Agency Training Council (PATC) and Illinois State Police training courses.

Owens is a member of Illinois Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, Central Illinois Association of Law Enforcement Executives, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and Sangamon County Law Enforcement Executives.

He replaces former UIS Police Chief Donald Mitchell, who retired in 2020 after a 20-year career with the department.