The MSU Police Department is separating the roles of vice president of public safety and police chief in an effort to restructure the department. It will also be creating a new security center to centralize all systems.
Marlon Lynch, who previously filled the combined position, will become the new vice president and chief safety officer, pending approval from the Board of Trustees in April. Lynch appointed Chris Rozman, who was interim deputy chief, to the chief of police position, effective today.
The decision reverses the 2021 decision to combine the roles. Interim president Teresa Woodruff said the 2021 decision was a great move for the institution then, as it has allowed for “increasing coordination across our public safety and our policing.” However, Woodruff said MSU has since realized it university requires two separate, full-time positions, a move many other large universities have made.
In a campus-wide email, Woodruff wrote the new structure will ensure MSUPD has “adequate resources and support for our shared priorities.” These priorities include university safety planning, which will be a primary responsibility of the new vice president.
Lynch said this change was first presented over a year ago and has been considered for some time. He said although the decision was not in direct response to the Feb. 13 shooting on campus, the event reinforced the idea that the change was necessary.
As vice president, Lynch will be able to work more closely on centralizing security systems. The university will also create a Security Operations Center, where the systems will be monitored in real-time. Lynch said this will also create a standardized and integrated security system across all MSU entities, including Flint, Grand Rapids and Detroit. This will require the department to hire new staff and acquire new technology.
While Lynch works on consistency and partnership, Rozman’s role as chief of police will focus on day-to-day operations with officers. Rozman said he has two priorities in assuming the role. First, he hopes to increase community outreach to build trust with students and staff. He also hopes to use a data-driven, intelligence-led policing model. This will involve strategic deployment of officers.
Rozman also said the department needs to focus on supporting its employees who were affected by the Feb. 13 shooting. He said this will strengthen organizational culture and allow officers to better serve the community.
“I am personally humbled and grateful at the opportunity to serve as the police chief,” Rozman said. “I've been on campus as a member of the community since 1997, as a student and then 22 years as a police officer here and so I've had the wonderful opportunity to serve this university in so many different ways … I am so excited about this opportunity moving forward.”
In this new structure, the chief of police will report to the vice president and chief safety officer. Lynch and Woodruff said this new structure will help accomplish the university's strategic plan.
“The university continues to evolve,” Woodruff said. “And as we move forward, what we're seeing … is a university that's on the move. And so, we want to make sure that we're enabling that safe and welcoming environment here in East Lansing and across the state in ways that are coordinated at the highest level. So, we have the right people in the right place, and we wanted to make sure that we made these movements at the same evolutionary pace as the university is moving.”