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U of U police chief disappointed by school for 'non support,' not charged in investigation

RODNEY CHATMAN.jpeg
University of Utah Police Chief Rodney Chatman. (Photo: Courtesy University of Utah)

After months of investigation into the University of Utah police chief, it was concluded that there is insufficient evidence to bring charges against Rodney Chatman for impersonating a peace officer.

A statement from his lawyer said Chatman is happy to have the investigation completed but still has concerns about the lack of transparency from the university, specifically in the Lauren McCluskey murder.

"Instead of supporting Chief Chatman, when some of the disgruntled terminated police officers made unfair allegations against the Chief, the University asked him to resign," Kathleen McConkie told KUTV.

McCluskey was a student athlete who was murdered on campus, bringing a lawsuit against the school from her parents who contended University of Utah police were at fault for failing to protect her against a man who stalked her and attempted to blackmail her before killing her.

The decision not to pursue charges against Chatman was announced Monday by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office after it took over the investigation from Utah's Attorney General. Chatman was placed on leave in December when it was announced he was being investigated. It was not specified at the time what he was investigated for.

His lawyer said last year that he was being made a scapegoat. His legal representative Kathleen McConkie told KUTV in a statement:

The Chief came to Utah to change the culture and the process of the University Police department which contributed to the death of Lauren McCluskey. His attempts to determine and make the requisite changes in the Police Department so that a McCluskey type death would not occur again were opposed by the University. Instead of supporting Chief Chatman, when some of the disgruntled terminated police officers made unfair allegations against the Chief, the University asked him to resign. Chief Chatman continues to be disappointed by the University in their non support.

Salt Lake County said in part:

We have concluded insufficient evidence exist (sic) upon which to file any charges against Chief Chatman for impersonating a peace officer or other related offenses.

The announcement, signed by Chief Deputy District Attorney Blake Nakamura, said the university knew he was not a certified law enforcement officer in Utah when he was given the duties of police chief and therefore met the definition of a police officer.

The University of Utah said "Chatman remains on administrative leave as the university determines the next steps."

Chatman replaced Dale Brophy, the former chief of police, who retired in October 2019. Brophy left while the department was under fire for the events leading up to the McCluskey murder and for accusations of sharing of evidence in the case among officers, possibly including nude pictures of the victim.

Chatman's appointment came more than 14 months after McCluskey's murder. She sought help and protection from University of Utah police. Her parents filed suit against the university, contending its failures led to her killing.

An independent investigation into the McCluskey murder revealed campus police are overtaxed and need more training to handle domestic violence cases. The university was given 30 campus safety recommendations to implement.

Chatman's previous experience includes serving as a police officer, being a safety director for four years overseeing a city's fire and police departments and serving at the University of Cincinnati. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati.

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