SALT LAKE CITY — The stakes are high as the University of Utah’s new police chief takes office Wednesday. The veteran law enforcement leader is tasked with rebuilding trust after criticism of the department mishandling reports leading up to the murder of Lauren McCluskey in 2018.
Chief Rodney Chatman’s first week got off to a rough start after getting stuck in Wyoming for days because of bad weather. Now that he’s here, he plans to hit the ground running.
“If your work requires what you are passionate about, it’s not work,” Chief Chatman said.
Chief Chatman comes to the U from the University of Dayton, and replaces former Chief Dale Brophy. He retired last year, amid criticism the University police did not adequately respond to numerous reports from McCluskey before she was shot and killed outside her dorm room by a man she dated.
Since then, students have accused police of not taking their reports seriously.
“The first thing is a listening tour. I need to find out what success looks like to our campus community,” Chief Chatman said.
Chief Chatman’s main goal is to speak with students about their concerns and develop policies within the department to correct any perceived shortfalls.
“My definition of police work involves heavy engagement with the community that we serve. I just think that’s the model,” Chief Chatman said.
Another priority will be the officers themselves, says Chief Chatman. His goal for the first year: begin to transform the climate on the campus of 33,000 students.