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Three Finalists Vying For The U of U's Police Chief Position

Photo of 'U' sculpture lit at night.
Brian Albers / KUER
The University of Utah is interviewing candidates for its chief of police.

The three finalists vying to be the next leader of the University of Utah’s police department after it faced more than a year of public criticism met the campus community this week. They were available for questions in public forums scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Those dates raised concerns among a group of students on social media who criticized that the forums were taking place during finals week. 

Fifty individuals applied for the chief of police position and were reviewed by an outside search firm hired by the university, said spokesman Chris Nelson. 

The university is hoping to make a final decision on the police chief position before the end of the year, Nelson said. 

The position was left vacant after former Police Chief Dale Brophy retired in October. 

Brophy and his department have been under a microscope since the October 2018 on-campus murder of Lauren McCluskey. Her family has filed a lawsuit against the university. They claim its police officers and others didn’t do enough to protect the 21-year-old track star, who had reported threats she received from her ex-boyfriend to the police department. 

In addition to hiring a new police chief, the university is also hiring a chief safety officer, a new position at the Salt Lake City-based institution. That person will oversee the police department and other safety aspects at the school. 

Jason Hinojosa, the department’s spokesman, said he has heard some criticism over adding a new level of bureaucracy, but he sees that new position as a new resource. 

“I think having an additional level of oversight and somebody having a view of operations and functions of the police department from a higher altitude, so to speak, is actually going to be beneficial,” he said. 

The university is also hoping to announce the name of its new chief safety officer this week. 

Meet The Candidates

Photo of Haydee Martinez
Credit Courtesy Haydee Martinez / University of Utah

Haydee Martinez

Haydee Martinez currently serves as the lieutenant for Northwestern University’s police department in Evanston, Illinois where she has worked for 18 years. 

Her university currently has about 21,000 students. (The University of Utah has an estimated total headcount of almost 33,000 students, according to data from the Utah System of Higher Education.) 

She has a record of recruiting quality minor applicants, according to her resume, an effort which helps ensure that her department’s demographics are aligned with community serves. 

(Utah’s Hinojosa said that currently the department has a total of 40 officers. Only four of those officers are female. Two identify as Hispanic. Another two identify as Polynesian. One identifies as African American.) 

Martinez’s department faced criticism earlier this year for using force against student protestors when former Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited their campus. 

In 2014, Martinez, who identifies as lesbian, filed a sexual harrassment, gender discrimination federal lawsuit against the university. She alleged that she was discriminated against by another sergeant. The suit was thrown out in federal court in 2016. 

Photo of Rodney Chatman.
Credit Courtesy Rodney Chatman / University of Utah

Rodney Chatman

Rodney Chatman serves as the executive director of public safety and chief of police at the University of Dayton — a school of about 8,000 students currently — in Dayton, Ohio. 

Chatman’s policing philosophy, according to his Twitter bio, is that officers must be part of the community they police. 

He was quoted in2016 article by the university’s student newspaper that campus law enforcement “is about the care of the students and helping them grow and learn, he said.” 

Before Dayton, Chatman was the captain, patrol commander and served as a police officer with the University of Cincinnati Police department. The school currently has over 46,000 students. During his leadership, his department faced criticism after one of his officers shot and killed an unarmed black man in an off-campus traffic stop. 

In 2018, Chatman began an effort where he randomly reviewed footage from body cameras worn by his officers.

Photo of Kevin Gillilan.
Credit Courtesy Kevin Gillilan / University of Utah


Kevin Gillilan is currently the chief of police at the University of North Alabama, a school of more than 7,000 students

Two years ago, Gillilan’s department had its first officer-involved-shooting when an officer shot a woman after she attempted to run him over, according to reports. Gillilan told reporters that the officer had attempted to de-escalate the situation before using his gun. The officer was later cleared of wrongdoing

In 2018, Gillilan was invited to attend the selective FBI National Academy. The training centers on leadership development and critical thinking, according to a press release by the university.

Gillilan also applied to be the police chief at Utah State University earlier this year but was not selected for the position, according to a report by The Herald Journal.

Rocio is coming to KUER after spending most of her life under the blistering Las Vegas sun and later Phoenix. She earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Spanish at the University of Nevada, Reno. She did brief stints at The Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Reno Public Radio. She enjoys wandering through life with her husband and their toy poodle.
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