By Ashley DeLeon
Stanley Valles, 52, walks the Townhouse 100s at night, wearing white Crocs and a Nike sweatshirt. Seconds after closing the door to his new home on campus, he is greeted by a student who notices a radio in his hand.
“Are you the new Director of Public Security? »Asks the student.
“Yes, I am Stan. How are you, ”Valles replies.
He shakes hands with the student –– who happens to be his new neighbor –– and engages in a conversation about interests, hobbies and hometowns.
“I don’t consider myself any different from the students I’m here to serve,” Valles said in an interview.
Like many students living on campus, Valles is hours away from home.
His family currently lives in Livingston Township, New Jersey, where Valles served as the first African-American police officer in 1995.
With over 25 years of law enforcement experience, he has worked for the New Jersey Transit Police Department, New Hampshire Correctional Service, Livingston Police Department, and the County Attorney’s Office of ‘Essex, New Jersey.
In 2017, he was the first Director of Campus Safety and Emergency Management at Marlboro College.
“Family means everything to me, and it should be for everyone”
Valles was born in Brooklyn, New York and lived in a four-family home with loved ones throughout his childhood. He shared a room with his two cousins and brothers.
“If you wanted something to drink, you would go up to your grandmother’s. You would go down to the basement where your uncle lived to get a t-shirt, you would go to the second floor to do your homework with your cousins. It was a great way to grow… ”he said.
Valles’ humble beginnings taught him the importance of gratitude.
“From my grandmother living in Jacmel, Haiti, with dirt floors, no plumbing and outhouses, to what she had now, made us appreciate it even more,” he said. he declares.
He and his family eventually moved to Connecticut, where he suffered immediate culture shock.
“I went from a predominantly black neighborhood in Brooklyn to a life in Connecticut where it wasn’t as diverse,” he said.
After his parents divorced, Valles moved to Newark, New Jersey and attended Kean University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. Subsequently, he enrolled in Middlesex Police Academy.
While at the police academy, he learned a shocking information about his family – his grandmother could not read or write.
“She really appreciated the importance of education, which is why she pushed me. Coming from Haiti, she understood that people are often judged on the color of their skin and the content of their character, ”said Valles.
He then married his wife, Katie, but never expected to marry outside of his race, he said. Although his late mother always wanted him to marry a Haitian woman, she loved Katie and kissed her fully.
Unfortunately, his father and other family members did not attend the wedding because he got married outside of his race.
“My father did not come to my wedding, nor did he meet my children. There were people who did not come to our wedding because of our race, and it is an obstacle that we [had to] cross, ”Valles said.
He and his wife have two college-aged children, Max and Olivia.
Olivia shares the same birthday as Valles’ mother and Max has the same birthday as her father.
“Olivia drives a little Subaru, has a boyfriend and is very cookie-cutter. My son is exactly the opposite. He has a recording studio in the garage and had rolling paper in his laundry, ”he said.
“I see a lot of students in my children,” he said.
Community policing and harm reduction
“If we are to work towards a demilitarized criminal justice system, community policing is the only way to do it,” said Margaret Bass, the president’s special assistant for diversity and inclusion.
When Valles began working at St. Michael’s College in early August, he planned to immediately implement community policing practices at the facility.
Community policing is a law enforcement strategy that emphasizes developing relationships with people in a community. The concept of community policing gained traction in the media following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
“Rather than responding to crime only after it has occurred, community policing encourages agencies to proactively develop solutions to the immediate underlying conditions contributing to public safety issues,” according to a community policing guide from the Ministry of Justice.
“[For example]I saw someone trying to hang onto the back of a van on their skateboard. And I was with an officer. Instead of sending lights and sirens at the person, we just stopped and had a conversation, ”Valles said.
Part of community policing involves positive partnerships between officers and leaders, he explained.
Valles said he regularly meets one-on-one with agents and dispatchers to learn more about his colleagues.
“I would come on a Saturday or Sunday and sit with the dispatcher for a few minutes… or with an officer on a Sunday and ask them what their day was like,” he said.
Valles said he wanted to see an increase in positive interactions between students and officers.
“I would like to see the officers interacting with the students more, like eating together in the dining room or going to the library,” he said.
Logan Hailey ’23 expressed his hope for more respectful interactions between officers and students.
“Last year I felt like they were very stuffy with their constant patrols and suspicion,” he said.
Hailey was interviewed for a Defender story last spring, where he shared his experience of receiving over $ 800 in fines for marijuana and disrespect at the height of tensions between students and officers.
“I feel like their priority should be to protect students in dangerous situations like sexual assault rather than arresting a few students who smoke weed,” he said. Given the difficult year students have been going through due to COVID-19 restrictions, Hailey hopes officers can allow students to “chill out” and unwind.
Representation is important
“I don’t know if I’m the first African American to hold this position in St. Michael’s or if they even keep track of it. But, it makes you wonder what people think of you, how they judge you and how they look at you, ”said Valles.
It can be difficult to avoid this way of thinking when little or no racial diversity is present in meetings, he explained.
For the BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] community on campus, representation within the leadership of Public Safety can have significant significance.
“It is high time that we started to have people from BIPOC in positions of power. This is the season of our millennium when we begin to make changes in our leaders and those in positions of power, ”said Kelechi Onuoha ’23, secretary of community engagement for the Student Government Association.
Onuoha expressed optimism for the future of public security reform at the college and hopes the changes this year “will be powerful.”
Optimism and Hope for the Future of Public Safety
“I can’t wait to watch [Valles] connect and be a part of what makes St. Mike’s the special community I’ve grown to love and respect, ”said Doug Babcock, adjunct professor and former director of public safety.
Babcock, who currently works for public safety at Dartmouth College, knew Valles several years ago when he worked in Marlboro.
“He is a calm and thoughtful leader with extensive public safety experience and a commitment to community engagement,” Babcock said.
Bro. Marcel Rainville ’67, SSE met Valles at an Edmundite dinner a few weeks ago.
“There were the seven regular Edmundite residents of Nicolle Hall at dinner that evening, as well as five other Edmundites who reside at Fort Ethan Allen. Stan arrived as we were starting dinner, and so Fr. Brian sort of “took him under his wing,” sitting with him and other Edmundites at that second table, ”Rainville said.
He said Valles left a good impression that night.
“Stan left a good impression on me as a serious but very sympathetic person who would seem like a perfect fit for the new position he has taken on on our campus,” said Rainville.
Adjunct Professor Kayla Loving spoke of her appreciation for Valles’ dedication to the college community.
“I met Stanley Valles and appreciated his commitment to learning from the community and building relationships with it,” she said.
Students have already expressed optimism for the future of public safety under Valles’ leadership.
“I think he’ll probably keep some of the aspects of Doug’s time that I could call good. But I think he’s also going to make an effort to change things from previous eras that weren’t so good, ”said Lily Denslow ’22, academic secretary of the Student Government Association.
Denslow emphasized the importance of positive relationships between students and Public Safety and its impact on academic performance.
“College is one of the only times in life when an institution controls every aspect of your life, from financial stability… to what you eat if you are on a diet. We need to understand the impact that Public Safety can have on a student’s academic performance, ”she said.
Eliza Masteller ’23, who met Valles in a criminology class taught by Babcock, briefly described her positive interaction with the new director of public safety.
“As the students walked out of the classroom, he asked our names, how we were doing and how he expected to see us on campus. I hope Stan can continue to take Public Safety in a positive direction and pick up where Doug left off, ”Masteller said.