New University of Utah Police Chief Placed on Leave

The police chief's attorney claims he is being pushed out due to his transparency in the school's mishandling of Lauren McCluskey's murder.
Published: December 22, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The University of Utah has placed its police chief on administrative leave less than a year after his hiring.

University spokesman Chris Nelson said Rodney Chatman was placed on leave last week, reports Deseret News. However, he declined to say why or whether it is related to police certification issues.

According to Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch, Chatman, who previously worked as police chief at the University of Dayton, was given a year to obtain Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, which all Utah law enforcement officers must have “before representing themselves as a police officer.”

“I want to clarify that over the past year despite not yet being Utah POST certified, Rodney had full authority to oversee University of Utah police as a university department head, including making personnel, strategy and budget decisions,” Lynch said. “This is a common practice for veteran law enforcement leaders coming from outside the state who need to seek certification.”

——Article Continues Below——

Get the latest industry news and research delivered directly to your inbox.

On Friday, the Utah Attorney General’s Office said it is one of multiple agencies currently investigating Chatman. He also declined to release more details since it is an “open investigation.”

Lynch said he was aware Chatman was being investigated by the attorney general’s office into “allegations that Rodney may have violated certain guidelines that are also criminal offenses, which could also adversely impact his POST certification.”

Chatman’s attorney claims he is being forced out of his position due to his persistent concerns and transparency with how the school mishandled the 2018 murder of student Lauren McCluskey, according to Fox 13.

Attorney Kathleen McConkie, who called Chatman a “scapegoat,” said he was asked earlier this month to resign or be terminated. Although he was allegedly given three weeks to decide, he was later put on leave.

She told The Salt Lake Tribune that administration told Chatman the university was getting pushback over the release of an independent investigation regarding McCluskey’s murder. McConkie also alleged administrators were concerned the school could face a misdemeanor charge for releasing the report with some officer names not redacted.

According to the report, Officer Miguel Deras showed off explicit photos the victim to his co-workers, including to a sergeant at the scene of her murder. Deras was terminated back in August as a result.

Jeremy Jones, Deras’ attorney, argued Chatman shouldn’t have been allowed to make personnel and other critical decisions since he did not have proper police certification in Utah.

“If you’re not certified as a law enforcement officer, you can’t undertake police authority. If you’re not a police officer, how then can you function legally or lawfully as a chief of police?” he said. “My office suspects that the university has since recognized that this problem would be made public and has placed Mr. Chatman on leave in an attempt to save face.”

Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series
Strategy & Planning Series