By Michael Newsom
University of Mississippi Communication
Sanford will join Ole Miss Aug. 9 from the University of Alabama, where he has served as assistant chief of police since 2019. The incoming chief got his start as a reserve deputy for the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in 2002. He said he’s always enjoyed being in law enforcement in a college community.
“Ole Miss is an SEC school, so it’s certainly what I’m used to,” Sanford said. “As a parent of a college student, I appreciate that law officers on a college campus are there to help students understand that something has long-term consequences, but that they are also being taken care of, kept safe and everyone is being looked after.
“We let them know that even if they’re going through the student conduct process, it’s not a fatal mistake. There is just a different, more nurturing attitude on a college campus with college campus law enforcement officers.”
Sanford earned a bachelor’s degree in community studies from the University of Alabama in 2017, and a master’s degree in higher education administration from UA in 2019. He also holds a graduate certificate in criminal justice education from the University of Virginia
Like many new hires to the university, Sanford, who had come to campus recently for some onboarding, remarked about how much the lush green of the place helps recruit not only students, but employees, including officers.
“That is one of the biggest ways to recruit people,” Sanford said. “They come to this green campus, where all the trees and the flowers are blooming. It definitely had an effect on me.
“Then, there was the friendliness of the staff overall and so it feels like ‘home.’ I have heard that word over and over and I believe everyone here has bought into it.”
Building on the foundation at UPD, Sanford said he wants to continue to push for more training and better equipment for his officers.
He and his wife, Andie Sanford, have been married for 15 years. He has a stepdaughter named Kailey and a son, Emerson.
Charlotte Fant Pegues, interim vice chancellor for student affairs, was impressed with Sanford’s passion about law enforcement during his talks with campus leaders.
“Chief Sanford brings with him nearly 20 years of law enforcement experience, with the bulk of it coming from another SEC institution,” Pegues said. “He is energetic and passionate about serving our community with excellence and has a clear vision for moving forward.
“His top priority is to keep all members of the university community safe.”
Jane Mahan, UPD’s captain of administrative operations who is serving as its interim chief following the retirement of outgoing chief Ray Hawkins, said the department and its officers are looking forward to the innovations Sanford will bring to campus.
“UPD would like to welcome Chief Sanford to our department,” Mahan said. “We anticipate with his leadership qualities that he will continue to lead our department with new and innovative ideas.”
John Yaun, who serves as director of student housing and lead the search committee for the police chief position, said the SEC campus experience is very valuable for someone in Sanford’s role.
“Chief Sanford brings a wealth of experience and knowledge around university policing and campus safety,” Yaun said. “His previous experiences at the University of Alabama with community policing, collaborating with faculty and partnerships with students will only enhance the efforts of the University Police team and further the strategic priorities of Ole Miss.
“We are excited to welcome him to the UM community.”