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Retired Air Force Colonel Finds New Home as Creighton’s Director of Public Safety

Michael ReinerFor many military members making the leap to civilian life, the question of what to do after retiring from service is a difficult one to answer. But for Michael Reiner, Creighton University’s new director of Public Safety, the call to apply his leadership skills and experience in a new setting rang clear as he approached the end of his military career.

The retiring Air Force colonel took over as director of Public Safety in December. He replaces Rick McAuliffe, who retired after a 37-year career in the department. The University’s mission, paired with his desire to continue his impressive career in law enforcement, brought Reiner to Creighton.

“I wanted to be a part of an organization with a mission that aligned with my beliefs, and I wanted the opportunity to lead people,” said Reiner. “I was drawn to higher education because I wanted to impact the next generation of leaders.” Now, at Creighton – where a campus sculpture titled The Flame reminds passers-by to go set the world on fire – Reiner hopes he’ll have the opportunity to do just that.

Reiner said he appreciates the foundation set by McAuliffe in his many years at the University and seeks to continue down the path of improving campus safety – and expanding Public Safety officers’ engagement with Creighton’s community.

Michael ReinerThe key tenets of his approach to safety – both of which are heavily inspired by his time in the Air Force – are simple: technology and people.

“Technology can be an effective tool to multiply our ability to detect and respond to threats to campus safety,” Reiner said. “We have a fair amount of technology in place across campus today, but the key to better leveraging these tools is integration.”

He gives the example of a security camera. While a camera that isn’t monitored has little value, he said, a camera integrated with a motion detector that alerts a dispatcher to movement in a restricted area becomes a useful tool. Reiner plans to better integrate the security measures already on campus, while also installing new technology – such as cameras that allow the department to pan, tilt and zoom after recording in order to scan a larger area more effectively.

Though technology is important, people are the core of Reiner’s approach to safety and community-building. “Our officers are essentially problem-solvers who face a broad spectrum of situations each day,” he said. “They need a variety of skills to best serve the Creighton community.”

From tactical emergency response skills such as CPR, first aid and firearms utilization to “soft skills” – bystander intervention, cross-cultural communication and conflict de-escalation are a few examples he gives – Reiner said that comprehensively training the Public Safety officers is essential to his plans.

Nearly all of Reiner’s views about safety and law enforcement have been shaped by his 26-year military career. His role in the Security Forces of the Air Force saw him overseeing units responsible for law enforcement, physical security and air base defense. His most recent post was in Hurlburt Field, Florida, where he served as chief of security forces and deputy director of installations and mission support for Air Force Special Operations Command.

Reiner’s career has also taken him to combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. While serving in Kabul in 2015, he led a NATO team that advised the Afghan National Police on training programs for nearly 160,000 police officers across the country.

Michael ReinerReiner has also earned several prestigious awards throughout his time in the military, including a Bronze Star Medal, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal and a Legion of Merit medal. The Legion of Merit is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and is the nation’s sixth-highest medal.

Even though he never thought he’d be interested in law enforcement when he was growing up – he studied astronautical engineering at the Air Force Academy – he couldn’t be happier with where he’s ended up today.

“I’ve had the opportunity to lead thousands of amazing young men and women around the world protecting military equipment and personnel,” he said. “As I transition to the Creighton campus, the uniform and operating environment have changed, but my role – to inspire and enable the men and women I lead to protect and serve our community – remains the same.”

Part communicator, part technology guru and part law enforcement officer, Reiner is confident in Public Safety’s future, but stresses that he can’t do it alone. “My mission in life goes beyond this department,” he said. “I want to be a resource for the community in a broader sense. It doesn’t cost you anything to give us a call or to stop by my office.”

That’s if you can find him there during regular hours, of course. For now, he’s working just as he did during his many years in the Air Force – out in the field, with his officers, working on ways to improve safety and foster a sense of community wherever he goes.

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