Utes search out a new chief of police for campus

The administrative face of campus police could change very soon.

Mike Perez, assistant vice president for facilities planning, will choose between four candidates vying for the chief of police position. He hopes his decision will be made in the next few weeks.

The final four candidates were chosen by a search committee from among dozens of applicants. The committee was composed of U students and staff and represented what Perez called “all aspects and facets of the campus community.”

The final four, including Michigan State University Lt. John McCandless, current U Interim Chief Lynn Mitchell, Williams, Ariz., Chief Frank Manson and Salt Lake City Assistant Chief Scott Folsom spoke during public interviews held over the last two weeks.

After each candidate’s individual presentation and question-and-answer period, the audience was invited to e mail or call Perez with comments. Perez plans to review the comments as part of his final decision-making process.

Perez said he already received dozens of e-mails from students and faculty identifying their preferred candidate.

He plans to take his time finding the person best-suited for the job. That person, Perez said, will be “somebody who understands the university environment as well as law enforcement expertise and can blend the two to create a safe environment for students and staff.”

McCandless worked as a special-event commander, proactive anti-crime team supervisor and as a lead investigator on domestic terrorism. “I am very proud of having been able to collaborate with other campus units and various law enforcement groups-state and federal-to successfully put together some big events,” including being the “point person” during a presidential visit, he said.

McCandless said his diverse background allows him “to understand the importance of a university police department and how to work with neighboring jurisdictions to provide the best police service.”

“I believe that I have a proven track record of working with and collaborating with student groups and organizations to facilitate positive programming,” he said.

Mitchell took over the position of police chief after Ben Lemmon retired last November. Mitchell has worked in the department for 30 years and said he “understands the problems and issues we face here at the U.”

His career highlights include creating the first computerized record management system for the department and administering the campus alarm system, Logiplex.

Mitchell said the pay the department offers its employees is currently 13 percent below other state police agencies. He hopes to obtain better funding for the department and to provide the staff with raises every few years to “bring us up to at least what the market is in the rest of the state.”

Manson’s most recent awards include a Technology Merit Award from the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission and the City Manager’s Award for Excellence from the city of Flagstaff.

Mason concentrated his presentation on finding better funding for the department by coordinating resources with other departments instead of competing against them. Mason also said other goals will be to “plan, practice and train from unforseen future events” and to “excel at maintaining an optimum place where students and faculty can succeed.”

Folsom’s most recent experience includes positions as investigations bureau chief, security operations commander for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games and emergency operations coordinator.

Folsom said that his greatest asset is “the experience I will bring from working with a variety of law-enforcement agencies.”

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