University Of Utah Selects New Chief Of Police

Jan 9, 2020, 11:24 AM | Updated: 11:52 am
The University of Utah selected Rodney Chatman as the new chief of police of the Department of Publ...
The University of Utah selected Rodney Chatman as the new chief of police of the Department of Public Safety. (University of Utah)
(University of Utah)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – University of Utah officials announced Rodney Chatman will become the university’s new chief of police, filling a position that had been open for almost three months.

Chatman is currently the executive director of public safety and chief of police at the University of Dayton in Ohio, where he oversees police, parking, emergency response and emergency medical services.

Officials said Chatman served as a police officer and captain at the University of Cincinnati before moving to Dayton.

“Rodney is an experienced law enforcement leader who has a deep understanding of campus policing,” said Ruth V. Watkins, president of the University of Utah. “He is committed to best practices, community engagement and relationship building and is the ideal candidate to lead and guide change in our Department of Public Safety. Rodney is particularly recognized for effectiveness in building partnerships with students to enhance safety.”

Officials said Chatman will report to Marlon Lynch, the university’s newly hired chief safety officer.

Lynch’s position was one of 30 changes recommended by an independent task force that was commissioned by the U. after the murder of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey.

Chatman will assume his role on Feb. 17.

“My ultimate goal as chief is to build trust between the police and the community—staff, faculty and particularly students,” Chatman said. “It will be vital to hear specific concerns and understand what success looks like from their perspective. Students need to know that the police chief wants to hear their voice and wants to begin the process of healing from past and present hurts.

“I also am looking forward to meeting with members of the Department of Public Safety, which has talented men and women doing great work,” Chatman said. “I want to build on that. We will work together to create a positive, responsive culture and strategize how to positively affect change that will draw accolades on campus, in the community and across the nation.”

Chatman’s position had been open since former chief Dale Brophy retired in Oct. 2019.

Brophy led the Department of Public Safety at the time of McCluskey’s killing in Oct. 2018. The department faced scrutiny for the handling of the case.

Lynch said Chatman’s addition is a significant step as the U. continues to evolve its approach to campus safety.

“Chief Chatman has shown the ability to become a credible and trusted member of the communities that he has served,” Lynch said. “He has aIso proven to be a quality leader of police personnel. Both traits will be assets as we move towards implementing the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing methods, a national initiative, with a focus on engaging our community as collaborative partners. I am looking forward to working with Rodney as a member of our Department of Public Safety leadership team.”

Officials said Gabe Martinez, vice president of student relations for the Associated Students of the University of Utah, represented the student body on the police chief search committee.

In October, students held a walkout protest to say they weren’t satisfied with the school’s response to McCluskey’s murder.

“Safety is at the forefront of students’ minds and I believe the U has selected the perfect individual for this role,” Martinez said. “Chief Chatman is not only passionate about keeping the public safe, but also about positively influencing the lives of those he strives to keep safe. I think students will be excited about Chief Chatman’s strong interest in improving our campus police force and the all-around safety on our campus. I believe he will also expect students to assist in building that strong relationship. I am confident that students at all levels will come to see the U’s police department as a true resource.”

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University Of Utah Selects New Chief Of Police