U of U Chief Safety Officer announces resignation, acceptance of job in Michigan

Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch. Photo: University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 2, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The University of Utah’s Chief Safety Officer, appointed a year after the on-campus murder of student athlete Lauren McCluskey, on Tuesday announced he is resigning the position to accept a job at Michigan State University.

“It is with mixed emotions that I share with you that I will be leaving the University of Utah to accept a position as the inaugural vice president for public safety and chief of police at Michigan State University,” CSO Marlon Lynch wrote.

“This new opportunity was unexpected, and my decision was not an easy one to make. In addition to enabling me to be closer to my family, I have deep connections to MSU, which is my alma mater and an institution attended by a number of my family members. I will step down at the end of March 2021.

“In the interim, Keith Squires has agreed to serve as the chief safety officer. Keith is a great leader and fully invested in our mission, which will ensure a steady course in the months ahead. The search for a new chief safety officer will begin after a new president is named, likely in the fall. I will continue working with the U in a consulting capacity during this transition.”

Lynch was at the U during troubled times. In the wake of 21-year-old McCluskey’s shooting death on Oct. 22, 2018, by ex-boyfriend-turned-stalker Melvin Rowland, 37.

Lauren McCluskey and her mother Jill McCluskey. Photo: Twitter

After the murder, investigators discovered McCluskey’s report of threats and blackmail attempts by Rowland, reported several days before her shooting death, were not investigated.

Investigators also found the officer who received the intimate photos shared as blackmail evidence showed the images to officers not assigned to that case. The officer, who had left the U of U, was subsequently fired from the Cache County agency that had hired him.

Lawsuits brought by McCluskey’s parents are still ongoing, and on Tuesday, the legislature was reportedly discussing a possible settlement.

And in December of 2021, it was revealed that campus Police Chief Rodney Chatman — brought in to replace Chief Dale Brophy, who retired a year after McCluskey’s murder — had been placed on leave because, multiple sources said, he was not yet certified in Utah to perform the job, which he accepted in February, 10 months earlier.

Rodney Chatman. Photo: University of Utah

University President Ruth Watkins announced her resignation last month, saying she will step down in April to take a new job as president of Strada Impact.

University of Utah President Ruth Watkins expresses her confidence in the U of U Police Department’s handling of Lauren McCluskey’s case and subsequent murder investigation. To Watkin’s left is then-chief Dale Brophy. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

Lynch said in his letter Tuesday that he was proud of what the U had accomplished in the time he was there.

“In the year we have had together, we have accomplished amazing work on an extremely fast track, restructuring safety operations in a way that positions the university to carry this momentum well into the future and achieve a true transformation of safety on our campus.

“I am particularly appreciative of the talent, dedication, and passion each of you brought to building something new and extraordinary at the U — a safety department that I have no doubt will be a model in structure and oversight for other campuses. You are an incredible team. I know that because of your commitment this vital work will continue with no pause in advancing the university’s safety goals.

“I am grateful for the support I received from each one of you, from students, staff, and faculty at the U, and from the administration. Safety has been, and will always be, a top priority at the U, which highlights the importance of the work each one of you is doing.

“Please reach out directly to me if you have additional questions. I want to close by again saying how much I have enjoyed working with you and to thank you for your hard work.”

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