Records of the Office of Public Safety at the University of Kansas
This record group contains documents from and about the University of Kansas Office of Public Safety, particularly concerning the KU Police Department (KUPD). These records include personnel files, correspondence, and other materials documenting the history of the office.
- Creation: 1925 - 2019
- University of Kansas. Police Services (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Several series in this record group will require permission from the office of origin before use. Personnel and student records are closed in accordance with applicable law. All requests are subject to review by the Archives staff to determine accessibility.
Conditions Governing Use
Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.
History of the Office of Public Safety at the University of Kansas
University of Kansas' campus police first emerged in the 1920s amidst the popularization of automobiles: a single traffic officer was hired in 1927, who pulled over speeding students. This iteration of the KUPD would last until 1945, when the university hired five new officers to deal with the influx of students returning from World War II.
In 1950, the university began the official Traffic and Parking Department under its first director, Officer Joe Skillman. Under Skillman, the Traffic and Parking Department turned its focus to campus crime generally, and officers were trained in police science and forensics. Throughout the 1950s, the Traffic and Parking Department would grow in both size and mission, hiring new officers and stopping more crimes.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as protests against the Vietnam war grew more fervent, the Traffic and Parking Department would take on an even bigger role on campus. In 1974, KUPD separated from the parking department, and the police department was desegregated in 1975.
From 1974 to 1997, the director of police was James Denney, whose tenure saw bomb threats in 1980 and a wave of protests in the early 1990s. In 1997, the KU public safety directorship passed on to Ralph Oliver, who would hold the position until 2015. Chris Keary held the role of chief of police until 2021, when Nelson Mosley took over the role.
36 Linear Feet (45 boxes + 26 folders, 5 oversize folders)
Language of Materials
Scope and Contents
This record group contains documents from and about the KU Office of Public Safety, particularly concerning the KU Police Department (KUPD). Almost half of the documents are the department's personnel files, including medical records, training reports, and payroll records.
The other large category of records in this group is correspondence. These boxes contain various documents and memoranda relevant to the operations of the KUPD throughout much of the 20th century. These documents are mostly administrative in nature, but also include some personal correspondence.
Many of the documents in this record group, including most of the personnel files and correspondence, are undated. Most of this record group is also restricted by statute.
- Guide to the Records of the Office of Public Safety at the University of Kansas
- Records of the Office of Public Safety at the University of Kansas
- Finding aid prepared by jb, 2022. Finding aid encoded by mwh, 2022. Finding aid revised by jb and mwh, 2023.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Finding aid written in English.
- Finding aid permalink
- Preferred citation
Records of the Office of Public Safety at the University of Kansas, RG 48, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas