Garden Grove PD reserve officer honored for making Biola U one of safest campuses in U.S.

By Greg Hardesty

Now they have another reason to call him Chief O.

For Outstanding.

Longtime Garden Grove PD reserve officer John Ojeisekhoba, whose surname leaves many tongues tied in knots — hence his nickname — has been named Director of the Year in the higher education category by Campus Safety Magazine for making Biola University one of the safest colleges in the nation.

Ojeisekhoba (pronounced Ojes-ko-ba) has been Chief of Campus Safety at Biola University since 2009 and a reserve officer at the GGPD for a decade.

“I am humbled, and this is beyond me,” said Ojeisekhoba, 43, who last week was recognized by his colleagues at the GGPD, Biola and other law enforcement agencies and higher education institutions at a reception at the private Christian college.

Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba smiles as he sits with his family during a ceremony honoring him for receiving the Director of the Year Campus Safety award. His family from left is John Jr., 11, Joshua, 10, Nicole, 6, Natalie, 8, James, 3, sleeping in the arms of his wife Heidi. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba smiles as he sits with his family during a ceremony honoring him for receiving the Director of the Year award from Campus Safety Magazine. His family, from left, is John Jr., 11, Joshua, 10, Nicole, 6, Natalie, 8, and James, 3, sleeping in the arms of his wife, Heidi.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Ojeisekhoba shared the top honor in the higher education category with John Venuti of Virginia Commonwealth University, marking the first tie in the history of the award.

“Every year the competition for this award gets harder,” said Robin Hattersley Gray of Campus Safety Magazine, one of several speakers at the Aug. 11 reception.

Chief O’s accomplishments running the 90-plus-person Campus Safety department at Biola include increasing officer retention from an average of two years to five years, implementing stronger security measures on campus including perimeter fences, adding classroom and office door locks that can be locked from the inside, improving facility access control, and creating the ability to lock down the campus during emergencies.

“This is absolutely one of the highlights of my year as president of Biola,” Barry Corey told reception attendees, who included Ojeisekhoba’s wife, Heidi, their five children and three of his brothers.

“John’s integrity is what brought him to Biola, and it’s his integrity that keeps him here,” Corey said. “He has won the confidence and respect of thousands of students, faculty and staff.”

Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba receives a standing ovation after receiving the Director of the Year Campus Safety award during a ceremony honoring him in the Andrews Banquet Room at Biola University. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba receives a standing ovation. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Ojeisekhoba, a former world-class long jumper, grew up in a humble household in Nigeria. He is one of 19 children whose late father, Moses, served as police chief of the Nigerian state of Kwara.

Ojeisekhoba idolized his father and craved a better life in the U.S., but getting here wasn’t easy (click here to read a previous Behind the Badge OC story on Chief O). It took Ojeisekhoba six tries to finally be granted a visa to immigrate to the U.S. He was rejected five years in a row before finally being granted a visa.

The man responsible for bringing Ojeisekhoba to the U.S. in 1996, former Biola University track and field coach Leroy Neal, spoke emotionally at the reception about Ojeisekhoba, who considers him a second father.

“When John arrived, he had a toothbrush and a big heart,” Neal said. “Now he’s chief of the year. How did that happen?”

In short, integrity and perseverance landed Ojeisekhoba at Biola U as a graduate student in 1996, Neal said.

Ojeisekhoba got the law enforcement bug working for Biola U’s Campus Safety office.

He set goals to someday run the department.

At the reception, Ojeisekhoba gave a lot of credit to his colleagues at the GGPD.

Members of the Garden Grove PD gather with Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba and some of his family after a ceremony honoring him for receiving the Director of the Year award from Campus Safety Magazine. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Members of the Garden Grove PD gather with Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba and some of his family after a ceremony honoring him for receiving the Director of the Year award from Campus Safety Magazine. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“Ten years ago, they gave me the opportunity to become a reserve officer,” he said. “I’ve learned so much from the department and continue to learn to this day. I’m very thankful for their impeccable leadership, and for all the investments they’ve made in me.”

In addition to his full-time duties at Biola, Ojeisekhoba puts in at least 20 hours a month as a reserve Garden Grove police officer, doing everything from patrol, delivering the incarcerated to Orange County Jail, working parades and DUI checkpoints, and checking up on registered sex offenders.

Greg Balsano, vice president of university services at Biola U, said keeping students safe — as well as teachers and staff – is a huge responsibility Ojeisekhoba takes very seriously. And Chief O expertly walks the line between enforcing rules without alienating students, Balsano said.

Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba addresses those who came to honor him during a ceremony after receiving the Director of the Year Campus Safety award.  Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba addresses those who came to honor him. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“It’s hard to walk anywhere on campus with John because he’s always being interrupted by students he knows,” Balsano said. “Students think well of Campus Safety here.”

Added Randy Richardson, deputy chief of Campus Safety: “Chief O’s leadership traits, service and devotion to his family are apparent to anyone who spends a little time with him.

“He shows great concern for the community. His experiences have shaped him and have made him compassionate and (devoted) to serving others. We’re overjoyed to see him get this recognition he so richly deserves.”

Photographer Steven Georges contributed to this story.

Officer Nick Jensen, left, and Captain Kevin Boddy congratulate Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba after a ceremony honoring Ojeisekhoba for receiving the Director of the Year Campus Safety award. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Garden Grove PD Officer Nick Jensen, left, and Capt. Kevin Boddy congratulate Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba after a ceremony honoring Ojeisekhoba for receiving the Director of the Year award from Campus Safety Magazine.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba with his wife Heidi and his five kids from left, James, 3, Nicole, 6, Natalie, 8, John Jr., 11, back row, and Joshua, 10, after a ceremony honoring him for receiving the Director of the Year Campus Safety award. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

John Ojeisekhoba with his wife, Heidi, and their five kids (from left) James, 3, Nicole, 6, Natalie, 8, John Jr., 11 (back row) and Joshua, 10.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba, back row in uniform, gathers with his extended family and friends after a ceremony honoring him for receiving the Director of the Year Campus Safety award. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba, back row in uniform, gathers with his extended family and friends after a ceremony honoring him for receiving the Director of the Year award from Campus Safety Magazine.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“This is the man who brought me from Africa,”  Biola University Chief of Campus Safety and Garden Grove PD Reserve Officer John Ojeisekhoba, left, says as he gives his friend Leroy Neal a hug during a ceremony honoring Chief Ojeisekhoba at Biola University. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC