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Posted on Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

U-M officials expect to post executive director job for new public safety division by end of January

By Kyle Feldscher

The University of Michigan plans to have a job posting ready for the head of the new Division of Public Safety and Security finished by the end of January, officials said Thursday.

University of Michigan Police Chief Joe Piersante is currently both the police chief and the interim director of the division.


Joe Piersante

Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said there’s no timeline at this point beyond posting the job at the end of the month.

“I’ve learned long ago to never put a time frame on hiring because there are all kinds of things that can happen,” he said.

The new Division of Public Safety and Security was set up in the wake of an external investigation into the Stephen Jenson scandal that rocked the university last year.

Jenson was accused of having child pornography on a thumb drive left in a laptop at the University of Michigan Hospital. Despite the fact a hospital employee discovered the suspected child porn and reported it to her superiors, it was six months before the university notified police.

Under the new division, university police, Hospital Security, Housing Security and Security departments are all in the same department and would report to the executive director.

Once the new executive director is hired, the police chief will report to the director, Fitzgerald said. The executive director will report directly to university President Mary Sue Coleman.

Fitzgerald said he is not sure if Piersante will continue in his role as police chief once a new director is hired.

A nine-member committee has been set up to assist Coleman in the search for a new executive director and is chaired by Elizabeth Barry, the managing director of the Life Sciences Institute. Ann Arbor police Chief John Seto is among the other eight members.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

Will the new Executive Security Emperor have new clothes? Can't wait to be dazzled (again). I'm full of confidence that the next accidental finding of child porn on someone's forgotten thumb drive or computer will be "instantly" reported to the proper authorities. Super Security Sue never makes the same mistake twice. ;-)

Kyle Feldscher

Mon, Jan 7, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

I've updated this story to clarify Rick Fitzgerald is not sure if Joe Piersante will continue as police chief. In an email he sent me after this story was published, Fitzgerald said Piersante very well may continue in that role but the university is a long way from making that determination. My apologies for the misunderstanding and confusion.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

The last couple times jobs like this opened in the Ann Arbor area, the same scenario played out: Some retirement-eligible would-be candidate takes a pension from high management at some level of civil policing, state or federal probably, and grabs a nice sinecure at UM. They punch the clock for a year or two, and leave with two pensions instead of one. UM has been known to throw in a nice going-away severance check, too.


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

You got it. Lots of show and no go. The solution to the problem of not reporting a crime to the campus police department was to reorganize the campus police department. Go figure that. The supposed problem was communication and lines of authority between what was basically a private security department (UM Hospital Security) and the police. The physician who identified the problem reported it to her superiors who immediately pushed it aside by moving it upward to the General Counsel's office. What's missing here? Where are the preventative actions within the offices of General Counsel and within the medical affairs departments? Where's Doug Strong in all of this? He's never made one statement on all of this, yet, technically the Hospital Security would have been under his administration and authority. I don't believe there can be an atty-client privilege protecting this information. Not honestly at least and not for the purposes of that privilege. This was a matter of criminal prosecution and didn't implicate the UM in any private civil action. The UM is not being sued and is in no threat of suit. It may be in violation of some arcane federal notification rules, but those are administrative penalties and everything involving their investigation and conclusion should be a matter of public record because it involves a failure of a public institution in keeping with public regulations. The UM does not risk prosecution here. Perhaps individuals could face prosecution for covering up a crime, but that's not the purpose of an atty client privilege between the UM and lawyers. They hired the law firm to conduct an audit. That should be a matter of public record. This declaration of atty client privilege is techno-legal garbage. I hope the new Regents see it as such and bring this matter to light.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

Remember the scene in the Godfather part II, during the Congressional investigation - "The family had a lot of buffers!" These layers are "buffers" to protect higher ups. They can point the finger down the chain and say "I didn't know".


Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

It was President Coleman who failed to report the incident to the faculty senate when she met with them on December 5, 2011. The Board of Regents also found that the internal investigation that was commissioned by President Coleman was inadequate and they needed to have an outside investigator. It was the Board that has kept the report of the investigation secret, claiming attorney Client privilege. One of the problems was the animosity between the hospital security and the police but the bigger problem is the corruption of the University administration and their preference for secrecy.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jan 6, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Remind me again - who was fired for all of that?

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

"Under the new division, university police, Hospital Security, Housing Security and Security departments are all in the same department and would report to the executive director. Once the new executive director is hired, Piersante will continue in his role as police chief and report to the director, Fitzgerald said. The executive director will report directly to university President Mary Sue Coleman." Is this a case of too many chiefs not enough Indians? It seem like another layer of bureaucracy to me.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.

Well, Craig, you have to remember the incident which sparked this reorganization / streamlining: the accidental discovery of images on someone's computer which indicated that forbidden images were being used was "non reported" to higher ups. So now, these non-reports of future accidental findings will be dispatched much more quickly to Super Security Sue - who will then (it's alleged) call police right away. Clearly, you fail to appreciate the advantage in having an "executive director" who will do what regular directors were failing to do - or so we are told. So now how do you like the Emperor's new clothes? ;-)


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

this is an effort to have more accountability. under the previous organizational structure the different safety and security units were much more autonomous. This is supposed to create better oversight of what is going on overall.


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

This is typical of how UM operates. Everyone is a chief and there are few Indians who actually do the work. More and more and more bureaucracy, high salaries and higher tuition to cover the costs.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

bereasonable, So did some layer's disappear? With this new "chief" added he/she is replacing other chiefs whose jobs have been eliminated?


Sat, Jan 5, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

Craig, Not really, if compared to former org chart. Police chief has never reported directly to pres. and had 2 layers between. Both Hospital and Housing Security(s) formerly had individual reporting structures as well