New chief addresses student-campus police communication

By: Rose Rucoba – Staff Writer

UD Public Safety welcomed Rodney Chatman as the new executive director of public safety and chief of police at the beginning of this semester.

Chatman comes to UD with a long history as a safety and police officer.

His experiences and occupations span from working as captain of the University of Cincinnati Police Department to working as an adjunct faculty member at UC, teaching courses such as criminal justice and family violence, to working as safety director at the St. Bernard Police Department in St. Bernard, Ohio.

At UD, Chatman’s responsibilities as executive director of public safety and chief of police include overseeing the safety of UD students, faculty and staff, and supervising all of the officers at Public Safety.

“Campus police must be sensitive to the role we play in helping students through that critical phase of transitioning from dependence on parents to the self-discovery and life skills sought and learned that impacts life course trajectory and future leadership,” Chatman said.

In an interview with Flyer News, he discussed his future plans for UD Public Safety and the challenges it faces on campus today.

Chatman said he was first drawn to UD because he values its Marianist beliefs and because it is such a family-oriented campus.

“It’s everything I imagined it would be,” said Chatman. “I can see myself staying here.”

While he sees UD as a home, Chatman said there are some areas that need improvement, particularly the issue of communication between students and campus police.

Chatman talked of how he believes students should feel comfortable coming to campus police and should never hesitate to ask for help.

“There is a prevailing hesitation to call the police,” Chatman said. “Often people say they didn’t feel as if their issue was important enough or they didn’t want to bother us.”

There is a prevailing hesitation to call the police. Often people say they didn’t feel as if their issue was important enough or they didn’t want to bother us.

To help students understand, he uses the analogy of getting a toothache or having a plumbing problem. In either situation, a person would not hesitate to ask for help.

Chatman said that students should look at public safety in the same way: as a resource.

“Students should have an open mind when police step forward in a situation,” Chatman said.

While this may be news to UD students, Chatman said the issue of communication is a big problem on college campuses. Compared to municipal officers, he explained that campus police officers have a more difficult job.

Chatman has had experience as both a municipal officer and a campus police officer but prefers campus law enforcement. He said municipal police work is “geared towards catching the bad guys,” and the university mission is more holistic. It is about the care of the students and helping them grow and learn, he said.

Campus police may have a more holistic job, but Chatman acknowledged it can be hard to make connections when 25 percent of the student population changes every year.

However, he hopes getting involved in the UD community will break down some of the communication barriers.

Chatman hopes to do this by attending on-campus events, walking around campus and potentially teaching criminal justice or more hands-on courses like he has in the past.

In his experiences, getting involved on campuses in his past careers helped the relationship between students and campus police. He hopes it works at UD as well.

“Here, we have to find resources and make it look different, fresh,” he said.

Students should expect him to be at campus events, including SGA events. He said he looks forward to getting to know the student body.

Photo by Multimedia Editor Chris Santucci.