U of U police chief cleared of wrongdoing after investigation

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The University of Utah has selected Rodney Chatman as the new chief of police. (University of Utah)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The University of Utah’s police chief has been cleared of any wrongdoing through an investigation, according to a letter from the District Attorney’s office to the University’s General Counsel.

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The letter states that law enforcement found no evidence to charge Chief Rodney Chatman with “impersonating a Peace Officer or other related offenses.”

Chatman had previously been accused of not being a certified police officer at the time of his hiring by the university.

Amid the original allegations, Chatman was placed on leave by the University in December of 2020.

A letter from District Attorney’s Office states that the University of Utah knew Chatman was not certified as a law enforcement officer at the time of his hiring, but was directed by the University to not “exercise police authority until he was certified as a law enforcement officer in Utah.”

Investigators determined that Chatman met those requirements and did not exercise police authority until he became certified as a Utah law enforcement officer.

Chatman joined the University’s police department in the wake of Lauren McCluskey’s on-campus murder — and the subsequent criticism of how police handled her initial complaints.

When Chatman was hired in January of 2021, he specifically asked for an investigation into the department’s handling of the Lauren McCluskey case, and when results were published, he pledged disciplinary action — and possible termination — of at least three members of the force.

In 2019, the McCluskey family filed two lawsuits against the University of Utah and their handling of the death of their daughter.

During a press conference, the family attorney James McConkie said Lauren’s death was “preventable” and that the murder occurred because of the university’s failure to respond to Lauren’s repeated complaints against Melvin Rowland.

The lawsuit claimed Lauren and her fellow students contacted the University of Utah more than 20 times to report Rowland’s abusive, dangerous, and threatening behavior.

In the fall of 2020, the University and the McCluskey family reached a $13.5 settlement in which the family then dropped their complaints against the University.

Of that settlement, the U of U agreed to pay $10.5 million to the McCluskeys and give $3 million to a foundation founded in Lauren’s name that is designed to improve campus safety as well as help collegiate track athletes and animal shelters. An indoor track facility will also be built and named after Lauren McCluskey as part of the settlement.

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