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University Mission, Community Engagement Guide Restructuring of Public Safety at MSU

This is episode two of Chopping It Up with the Chief, the chief being Marlon Lynch, MSU's vice president for public safety and chief of police. With Chief Lynch today is Daryl Green, chief of staff for the MSU Police and senior advisor to the chief.

Under the direction of Chief Lynch and with the approval of MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., the focus and structure of the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety has been adjusted to better represent the priorities of the Spartan community. The reorganization took effect July 1 and places greater emphasis on community engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion, relationship violence and sexual misconduct, professional standards and public integrity, and behavioral support services. As chief of staff, Green is responsible for accreditation, internal affairs, recruiting, budget, finance, human resources, and strategic planning. In addition, Green will oversee DEI initiatives, including programming, training, and education.

“I am an alumnus,” says Green. “I went to graduate school here at the School of Criminal Justice. I’ve always hoped to reconnect with MSU at some point in my career, and I’ve always been interested in university policing. One of the reasons I went back to grad school was because I liked the ability to be around different ideas and social identities and different understandings of the historical foundation of things and how things work. It was just a natural fit. This is an opportunity to grow and to further use a skillset I have from a municipal background and to bring that over to a university setting.”

What will your role entail? What will you be doing?

“One of the things I like about my role is that it’s fluid,” Green continues. “Understanding and leveraging what the university has to offer has been key for me. And particularly, one of the key documents that I was able to analyze early when I started here in July was the great work of MSU's 2030 Strategic Plan and its DEI plan, the Diversity Equity Inclusion Plan and Recommendation. So that's been key to me because we have been charged with making sure that DEI is a foundational piece of our police and public safety department. Making sure that we align ourselves, as a police department, with the university's mission is going to be key.”

Daryl Green, Chief of Staff, MSU Police and Public Safety
Daryl Green, Chief of Staff, MSU Police and Public Safety

Among Green’s priorities is working on the department’s accreditation, which he says “gives us an opportunity to examine and scan the department to determine and embrace our best practices and implement them. And accreditation gives us an annual review process so we're constantly reviewing those policies and procedures. And that's one thing I've learned throughout my history in policing is whatever the policy is today, it's going to change somewhere down the road. So, we must be constantly engaging and learning what's best for our university.

“Interacting with our community is vitally important. Every day, our police officers are trying to interact with our community in a way that builds trust and legitimizes our police department. We're trying to build on a great culture that historically has done a great job. We're trying to take it to the next level and make sure that we create a system of accountability and lean on our community. We're leveraging the resources of the university, too. There are some bright people at this university, and we want to make sure that they have an opportunity to engage with us and have a voice. As we build and incorporate them into our training, our policies, and our supervisory leadership training, we want to make sure that they have a vital role in that.

Marlon Lynch, Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of Police
Marlon Lynch, Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of Police

“And that includes a lot of the training that our officers must encounter to understand a diverse community. We must make sure that we have a multicultural competency when it comes to our police officers. They must understand as much as they can about social identities and the differences within our community. We can do that and be very transparent about it, which can help legitimize our police and public safety department.”

What are some challenges in reaching some of your goals and some opportunities in reaching some of them, too?

“I'm very optimistic,” Green says. “Learning some of the internal workings of the university has been key to understanding how the strategic plan was built, what was the foundation of it, and how we move forward. I have been listening and reading and understanding what our values are as a university. And when you look at the strategic plan, you can almost substitute the word police for the word university. I think the university's strategic plan has been key. There's tremendous opportunity and metrics that we can use to show that we are progressing in this foundational piece of establishing DEI in everything we do and becoming the excellent police department that we have been and continue to be.”

Chief Lynch talks about the Police and Public Safety Advisory Committee he has formed, and he describes the SafeMSU app.

“It's a large committee because I wanted to be inclusive,” says Lynch. “One of the primary reasons for this committee to exist is to hear from our community directly and regularly and not only in a time of critical incident or in a time when allegations are being made. This is a regular conversation. It also provides ownership. You heard Daryl mention the university's strategic plan. Our department is also creating a strategic plan, and this committee will have a regular voice in that. So, as we develop the plan, they will be actively engaged in it. We will hear directly from our community on a regular basis. It gives our community ownership and accountability. It lets them in. There's nothing behind the curtain that they won't be exposed to. They can be the perfect conduit from our department to the MSU community.”

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on WKAR News/Talk and streams at WKAR.org. Find, rate, and subscribe to “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.