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FBI experience a plus for CSU's new security chief

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Clayton State University's new security chief comes to the 6,000-student campus from the FBI.

Bobby Hamil, an Alabama native with 25 years of service at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, took over the top spot at campus security this month.

"I didn't want to retire retire," Hamil said, explaining the second career, "and I've been in law enforcement for so long that the corporate world didn't attract me."

Hamil originally joined the bureau out of law school, he said. He had a clerkship with the Alabama Attorney General's office his senior year of law school, and was increasingly drawn to the criminal justice aspects of law. He also was interested in traveling after growing up, and going to school in small-town Alabama, and knew the bureau would transfer him all over the country.

In the FBI, Hamil spent time dealing with Asian organized crime, Chinese counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism programs, as well as the National Security Law Unit at headquarters. He was a field supervisor, an assistant division commander, and the person in charge of the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which runs checks on firearms purchasers.

Hamil said he spent half of his time at the FBI in the field, and half in management, and he learned to love management.

"I enjoy the use of interpersonal skills," he said. "You have to have the patience to talk to your staff about things you might think are menial, but are important to them. You have to see your staff as people, and not just what work you can get from them."

His management style, Hamil said, is "visible and available," something he learned from an Alabama lawyer he worked with before he joined the FBI. The lawyer, he said, was known everywhere as a compassionate, and concerned person, who would stop to answer a question even if he was busy and already late. As the Director of Public Safety, Hamil plans to bring those management skills to Clayton State, where he will direct a force of 11.

He's arriving at the school at a time when campus growth is changing. Under-construction dorms will produce a "whole new set of challenges," Hamil said. "Right now, campus is quiet after midnight. Now, hopefully it will still be quiet, but there will be a presence of students, and a security presence."

Hamil said his incoming review of the college's crime statistics show the park-like campus is a remarkably safe place, and he just wants to keep it that way.

"Even the number of thefts are impressive, because they're low, and serious crime is almost nonexistent," he said.

Across the world of academic security, the biggest push, according to Hamil, is teaching students and faculty about safety after the fatal shootings by a mentally disturbed student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, last year.

"You don't want to have paranoia, but you want to have your antennas a little higher," Hamil said. "We want to increase the vigilance, though, and educate the students and faculty, because law enforcement can't be all eyes and ears."