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Kaplan to become SUNY Canton, SUNY Potsdam joint police chief

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POTSDAM - SUNY Canton’s new police chief is a familiar face in St. Lawrence County law enforcement.

John A. Kaplan, currently the SUNY Potsdam police chief, will become the latest shared administrator between the two campuses as he assumes the position Saturday.

“I am very much looking forward to this opportunity,” he said. “Those staffs have tremendous skillsets, both campuses have staffs that are extremely strong and motivated.”

Mr. Kaplan, a SUNY Potsdam graduate, served as Potsdam Village Police Department chief between 2003 and 2010, when he took the job at his alma mater.

“I will retain my office at SUNY Potsdam, but I anticipate spending a significant amount of time at SUNY Canton learning about their buildings and staffs,” he said.

SUNY Canton’s current police chief, Lisa E. Colbert, announced her intentions to return to the classroom as an associate professor in the college’s Department of Criminal Justice. Ms. Colbert had been a member of the department since 2011.

“Chief Colbert has done an exceptional job leading our University Police over the past year, but we respect her desire to return to the classroom,” Carli C. Schiffner, SUNY Canton interim president, said. “She is an exceptional instructor, and our students will benefit greatly, learning from her experiences in University Police and outside agencies.”

As he becomes acclimated to his responsibilities, Mr. Kaplan will oversee a study of each department’s operations.

“As important as anything, there will be a comprehensive strategic review of our goals and objectives,” he said. “We will examine the operations of all the departments, and we’ll share ideas on everything from training opportunities to operational plans.”

Mr. Kaplan said additional efficiencies could also be found by cooperating with area law enforcement agencies.

“We’re confident that we have such a great working relationship it will make our response seamless,” he said.“The more we train and work together, the safer our communities will be.”

Each campus will retain its own deputy chief.

“Since joining his alma mater in 2010, John Kaplan has proven himself to be a valuable asset for both campus and community. His years of service to the Village of Potsdam and now to SUNY Potsdam have prepared him well to work closely in collaboration with the force at SUNY Canton,” SUNY Potsdam President Dr. John F. Schwaller said.

“We would like to thank Chief Colbert at Canton for her hard work, as she and John discuss how both departments can work together over the coming months.”

The police chief becomes the latest in a series of positions merged by the campuses, previously the schools moved to share a veteran service coordinator, a chief financial officer and an interlibrary loan officer, among other services and positions.

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