The University of Utah has selected Rodney Chatman, the executive director of public safety and chief of police at the University of Dayton, as its new police chief.
As he prepares to start his new role on Feb. 17, the Ohio native said one of his first priorities will be to meet with students and learn about their concerns around campus safety and policing.
“I can have a lot of goals and a lot of programming ideas and initiatives but if it’s not what students would identify as success then I would be missing the mark,” Chatman said.
Chatman, 53, is succeeding Dale Brophy who retired last October. His retirement announcement came as the police department faced continued criticism for the on-campus murder of 21-year-old student athelete Lauren McCluskey in October 2018.
Chatman said honoring McCluskey’s legacy is on the forefront of his mind.
“I think as we move forward with this strong emphasis on engagement with the student … I think this the path to go on toward healing those hurts and regaining the trust of the student,” Chatman said.
Chatman is also the university’s first chief of police who is a person of color and currently the only non-white university police chief in the state. Of the 40 officers in the University of Utah’s police department, only four of them are people of color. Chatman said his presence may help the department recruit officers from diverse populations.
One thing that impressed the group was Chatman’s work to improve transparency and trust between the University of Dayton’s police department and students and community members, said member Rebecca Hardenbrook.
“We believe he’ll be very supportive of a student-run independent review board of the university police department and that was one of our major demands when we first started doing this work,” she said.
Hardenbrook said Unsafe U is looking forward to meeting Chatman and the U’s new chief safety officer Marlon Lynch, who will start in his role on Feb. 1 and oversee Chatman and the police department.
Rocio Hernandez covers education and immigration for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @rociohzz