Chief Ritayik is the First Female Police Commissioner in SUNY History, and the First to Rise in the Ranks from Campus University Police Officer to Chief of Police to Become Statewide Commissioner
Commissioner Ritayik Brings Years of Community Partnership Building and Strong Student Focus Approach to SUNY and Joins Chancellor’s Leadership Team on July 6
Albany, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced today that Mary Ritayik will lead the New York State University Police system, becoming the first female commissioner in SUNY’s history. She is also the first to rise in the ranks from campus university police officer to chief of police to become the statewide commissioner—having been a police officer, investigator, deputy chief, and chief of police at SUNY New Paltz. Commissioner Ritayik will bring years of community partnership building and a strong student-focused approach to SUNY system as she joins Chancellor Malatras’ leadership team on July 6.
Commissioner Ritayik is known for her collaboration amongst campus leadership and the broader community, especially on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion; residential life; and Title IX. She is an advocate of community policing as the backbone of safe university policing to protect students, faculty, and staff. Her focus is on accountability and transparency by the UPD to rebuild trust in law enforcement, as well as training and support to ensure officers have the skills and resources to appropriately handle incidents on campus. ”
Commissioner Ritayik has demonstrated throughout her career a commitment to forging a strong relationship between university police and the college community. She has proven to be a tremendous asset to SUNY New Paltz, building trust within the community by engaging students, faculty, and staff regularly on issues that matter most,” said Chancellor Malatras. “Mary is also a trailblazer for women in law enforcement, and well respected by colleagues and the community. We are excited to have her join our team as we continue to meet the expectations of our students for a safe environment on our campuses.”
Commissioner Ritayik has been a key member of SUNY New Paltz’s commitment to become an actively anti-racist institution. She formed the University Police Department (UPD) Advisory Committee, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni to address concerns across the nation about police reform and police interactions with Black communities and marginalized groups. It serves as a neutral platform of equals to gather candid feedback on law enforcement and their experiences in working with the university police. Commissioner Ritayik also facilitates regular dialogue with the broader campus community.
SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian said, “I congratulate Chief Mary Ritayik on her selection as the new Commissioner of the New York State University Police, at the same time I know that her leadership on our campus will be sorely missed. Chief Ritayik brings to that important statewide leadership position her campus experience as an officer, investigator, deputy chief, interim chief, and chief. She has demonstrated her impeccable integrity and a deep-rooted commitment to ongoing training, continuous improvement, and service and support for a diverse campus community and best practices for community-oriented policing. Along with her calm and thoughtful demeanor and professionalism, she brings clear values of transparency and accountability that will serve SUNY and its campus-based police departments exceptionally well.”
Commissioner Ritayik said, “Active listening is extremely important in discovering what your community needs from their police department, and by opening up to regular, informal conversations amongst our officers and our students, in particular, we can work through any issue. Our campuses are microcosms of our society, and an environment of constant change with each graduation and each incoming class. And while our goal is their safety—first and foremost—we must know their expectations of us will always evolve. I am honored to take on this responsibility for the larger SUNY system and appreciate the support from Chancellor Malatras.”
Tevin Green, Class of 2021, Student Association representative, business major and member of the SUNY New Paltz UPD Advisory Committee, said, “Working with Mary through Student Affairs at SUNY New Paltz and the College’s UPD advisory committee has been nothing but gratifying. She’s extremely industrious in her work and clearly knowledgeable in her field. Coupled with this, her open-mindedness adds so much value and flexibility, these last few months have allowed me to feel grateful to learn from her.”
Police Benevolent Association of New York State President & University Police Officers Director Ryan Law said, “I have known Commissioner Ritayik for 12 years and she is one of the best leaders I’ve had the privilege to work for, and someone I could count on for advice and support at any time. Mary has a great breadth and depth of experience protecting and serving students and the campus community at large, which comes from being an active listener and someone who views any situation broadly. While Mary will be missed on campus for the day to day activity, I am excited for her to take on this state-wide responsibility.”
About UPD Commissioner Mary Ritayik
Mary Ritayik was appointed Chief of University Police at SUNY New Paltz on January 1, 2019. She had served as Interim Police Chief since May 2018.
Ritayik is the first woman to hold the position of chief in the 50-year history of the SUNY New Paltz University Police Department. At the time of her appointment, she was one of only three females to hold the rank of chief in the entire New York State University Police system.
As chief, Ritayik leads an accredited 28-member department including 23 sworn members. UPD officers patrol the New Paltz campus 24/7 on foot, bicycle, and ATVs and motor vehicles, enforcing state, county, town, village, and education law with an emphasis on making each encounter an educational one.
As Deputy and then Interim Chief of Police at New Paltz, Ritayik had been central to efforts to engender a culture of campus law enforcement and emergency response that is measured, effective, equitable and transparent. She helped plan and implement new drills and simulations aimed at educating the campus community and improving officers’ response skills, and also authored the College’s annual Security and Fire Safety Reports.
She started her career in 1998 at the NYS University Police at SUNY Purchase, transferred to New Paltz in 2000, was promoted to university police investigator in 2003, and assumed the newly created role of deputy chief of police in 2013.
Ritayik is a career law enforcement professional who holds a degree in sociology with a concentration in criminology from SUNY Cortland, and earned the Top Grade as a graduate of Westchester County Police Academy.
About the New York State University Police
The State University of New York Police Departments are full service and community-oriented police agencies. In keeping with the educational mission of SUNY, the departments encourage their members to continue their professional development through additional education and training. Currently, there are approximately 500 officers across SUNY’s state-operated campuses.
About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. As of Fall 2019, more than 415,500 students were enrolled in a degree-granting program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide exceeded $1.7 billion in fiscal year 2019, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.