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Posted on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 10:33 a.m.

New U-M police chief will return to head EMU's public safety department - for less pay

By Paula Gardner

Update: Greg O'Dell says leaving U-M police to return to EMU strictly a personal decision

Greg O'Dell, appointed chief of the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety over the summer, announced this morning that he'll return to his former job at Eastern Michigan University.

With the change, O'Dell will vacate a position that pays $200,000 per year - and return to a job that will pay $149,000, representing $20,000 less than he earned in the same position when he left EMU.

According to a statement from EMU, O'Dell will resume his duties in December, following final approval from EMU's Board of Regents.

Thumbnail image for Greg_O'Dell.jpg

"To say I am delighted by this announcement would be an understatement,” said Susan Martin, president of Eastern Michigan University, in a statement.

“Chief O’Dell has made a tremendous positive impact on the safety of Eastern’s campus and is a significant part of our overall effort to revitalize the institution - resulting in enrollment growth, improved student test scores and retention rates, and considerable investment in new and renovated academic buildings, residence hall upgrades, campus infrastructure and more than 800 acres of beautiful grounds.”

O'Dell, an Ann Arbor resident with more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement, originally started at EMU in February 2008.

At U-M, O'Dell replaced Ken Magee, who resigned after an extended period of sick leave. O'Dell was hired following a national search.

O’Dell said in a statement: “I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to return to a job that I truly loved. I am looking forward to working with our outstanding police department team to continue the many crime reduction strategies and initiatives that we have put in place during the past three years.“

As U-M's chief, O'Dell had promised to hold regular meetings with the public, one of which took place during Thanksgiving Week.

From's report of that meeting:

O’Dell presented statistics showing the number of reports and arrests the department has made this so far this year, compared to the same period last year and the year before. The statistics showed the number of crimes continuing to keep pace with statistics reflected in the annual report released in September.

Reports of crimes such as larcenies, burglaries, sexual assaults, aggravated assaults and motor vehicle theft are all down compared to November 2010 and November 2009, according to the statistics O’Dell provided. The report also showed that index crimes. the most serious crimes, including — homicide, forcible rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny more than $50, motor vehicle theft and arson — are down 30 percent from the same time one year ago.

Deputy Police Chief Joe Piersante has been appointed interim university police chief at U-M.



Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

WOW, if its too much for him there must be a lot more to this story


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

I have no idea what is going on in this situation and why someone would take a $50,000 paycut, but I can tell you that the UM is a mixed bag in terms of a workplace. Some employees have figured out the system and they do well; others not so much. UM has a decentralized culture of governance, and not all directors like that model of management, though I have no idea how the security division is set up. Plus, to succeed at UM, you do have to be a "company" person, unless you are a professor. And O'Dell was following on the heels of a predecessor who resigned with a lot of questions surrounding the extended sick leave issue and whether it was deserved. Not the best situation to walk into. Good for O'Dell to not put $$ ahead of his desire for a good job. I hope AA dot com does more research and updates the story. However, all we will get is the "party line" and O'Dell certainly won't reveal publicly why he left after a short time. He is still in the community, and whatever he says publicly will follow him.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

This sucks. I'm sad to see him go. "O'Dell asked that this savings be considered for support of the DPS team," That's one fantastic man. Ethical, honest, and caring. Good for EMU, but I'm sad for UofM. Best wishes to O'Dell -- now EMU has a fantastic leader (leaders and the best) for the police force. During his time at UofM, I noticed a bunch of positives changes in the police force. O'Dell, a sincere thanks for your service. "I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to return to a job that I truly loved" It's always best to pursue the job that you love (and at the location that you love) over the job that may pay more.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

Here's the update based on a conversation with Greg O'Dell, which was just posted on our site: <a href=""></a>


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

Once again, leaves the readers hanging on their headline. Why is O'Dell leaving???????????? Their news reporters need to learn to answer the following basic questions: WHO ? WHAT ? WNEN ? WHERE? WHY ?

toothless wonder

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

EMU Campus = Simple U of Mich Campus = Very very complex times ten, so he took the easy way out!

Julie Baker

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

Comments containing unsubstantiated allegations and comments discussing moderation policies have been removed. Full guidelines here: <a href=""></a>.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

What does that mean? Oh, what does that mean??

Joe Kidd

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

I hope you are following up on those allegations.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:42 p.m.

Bottom line is that O'Dell is a cop and the U of M doesn't want that......They lost a good man. He probably had to report to so many PHD's that it drove he out.......This is EMU's gain.......

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 8 p.m.

Eastern has no Ph.D. then? I thought I knew one once. Guess they...I mean he...moved on. Why do you assume a Ph.D. means stupid? Stupid.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

Their are no PhD's in his chain of command except for President Coleman.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

What is the real story, what is the giant conspiracy that has been perpetrated against the people of this great state. I imagine what happened is Greg O'Dell met with Ken Magee over two years ago and asked him to be suspended (medical leave same thing) then once the university finally paid Magee off to stay quiet O'Dell made his move to fulfill his life long dream of becoming police chief at uofm for 3 months, little did we know part of his dream was to then return to EMU. This has all the makings of a great feature film, I see Will Ferrell as Ken Magee and Steve Martin as Greg O'Dell. Throw in a saucy red head for eye candy and we have a box office winner.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

There's a gaping hold in this story: Why is he leaving after such a short time? Why has UM hired and fired/lost TWO Public safety Chiefs in no time? What's the real story here?

Paula Gardner

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

Just added this to the story: Deputy Police Chief Joe Piersante has been appointed interim university police chief at U-M.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.



Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

The old addage about green grass and the other side of the fence probably has a lot to do with this.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 7:57 p.m.

Town...That second comment is a stitch. Thanks for the humor! You got it, pre-cisely.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

Thank you, and to prepare you for what lies ahead, the sun will set in the west and rise again in the east tomorrow.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

treetowncartel you have an acute preception of the obvious


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Do people really think if there were some type of scandal EMU would hire this guy back? We can all speculate but anyone taking a 50,000 dollar pay cut must be really unhappy. The one thing we know is that UofM has a history of treating their police department like second class citizens, perhaps a liberal University with all of its professors believing they are experts in every worldly topic isn't the most enjoyable place to work. I know that if I were police chief I'd really enjoy being hounded and second guessed by a professor of 7th century french poetry. Good for O'Dell life is too short to be unhappy, God bless EMU and UofM and all of our police officers, hopefully the next chief can help uofm pd.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

It doesn't have to be a scandal. It could simply be something that the U is unhappy about. O'Dell would have to be really, really unhappy to give up the job &quot;voluntarily&quot; since he sought it in the first place and since the pay was so much better. Way too high, IMHO.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

You are correct about that French poetry professor. -------- What's his/her name, what's the course, and when is it offered? Sounds like a good prof.

Joe Kidd

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

I would disagree that UM has treated the UMPD poorly. In these times of fiscal strife, UMPD has been well funded. They have hired when other depts are laying officers off. I would agree the PD treats its employees poorly as illustrated by another lawsuit by an employee. You are correct about that French poetry professor. In dealing with the uber intelligent you often find that their idea of how they think police should act is the proper way without regard to reality, how the world really works. However not all professors are like that, many are excellent people to work with. As evidence of this I would point out the incident at Harvard, where the police were called to a home of a professor who was reported as a possible burglar and ultimately was arrested for his conduct with the responding officer.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 5:43 p.m.

The faculty have nothing to do with deciding who is police chief. If he was unhappy, it either had to do with problems within the department or problems with the University administration. EMU must be happy with him since they want him back so I expect that he was unhappy with UM.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Maybe he wanted to have random drug testing of officers to avoid another officer arrested for cocaine possession and the administration said &quot;we didn't really mean it when we said you could clean up the department&quot;.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

I hope that will be independantly reporting on this. From what I understand people from the U sit on the board of, I certainly hope that if there was unfavorable light to be shed on the U that will do it even though there is a familiar and cozy relationship with the U. Certainly wouldn't want the readers to think that the news is the mouth piece for the U. Just as the people don't want to think that the PD of the U is controled by those same people.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

Oh good, more conspiracy yammer from the right.

Audion Man

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:33 p.m.

Could it be... and I know it is hard for some of you to consider this... that possibly... the University of Michigan is perhaps, a rather dysfunctional place to work and it might be worth $50k to escape it?

Audion Man

Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

OK. Let us refine it then, perhaps the UM PD has some dysfunction? Last chief goes on mysterious (and sadly under-investigated) &quot;sick leave&quot; all while managing to work some other job. Then replacement lasts, what, a year? And takes a big pay cut to get out...? One wonders what UM expects their PD Chief to do, exactly?


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

Wouldn't you have thought it safe to assume that a guy who retired from Ann Arbor PD would already have been at least familiar with the culture at UM PD, given as closely as the two depts. have to work?

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

then other than chief of police wheres some more evidence? I'm not saying your wrong, but you gotta have more than one example to back your suggestion. If you don't have a bit of a list of &quot;escapees&quot; then it rings a bit like a snide cheap shot.

David Cahill

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

There certainly seems to be a &quot;revolving door&quot; at the U of M Department of Public Safety. I also hope can find out what's really going on here.

Paula Gardner

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

We're updating this story right now - Kyle Felscher is on the phone with Greg O'Dell, and we're trying to reach U-M. Also, I should have included this in the story about the pay cut for O'Dell: &quot;O'Dell asked that this savings be considered for support of the DPS team,&quot; according to the news release.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 4:01 p.m.

While talking to Mr. O'Dell certainly is necessary, I doubt that it will uncover anything that may be going on in the background.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

Good for him. Being happy is really much more important than the money imho.

average joe

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

Maybe he didn't like the rules of the game at U of M. If so, good for him. Ms. Martin stated that he is a &quot;...significant part of our overall effort to revitalize the institution - resulting in enrollment growth, improved student test scores and retention rates, .....&quot; And after all this praise he is worth $20,000 less?


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:17 p.m.

Wonder if there will be any false accusations to come out against O'Dell now by people wanting to get further up the pay scale.


Thu, Dec 1, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

1. How do you know that any accusations made would be false? What's your logic? 2. People generally do not get ahead by accusing someone else. It's rare.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

Excellent way to stay on &quot;track&quot; with this story Rob.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

False accusations abound on the right .... anybody hear that Cain train derail ? LoL


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:17 p.m.

/All the right things were said publicly. What's the real story? The public who finance these jobs need to know. This is why there is so much distrust of our public officials


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:15 p.m.

Certainly leaves the door open for a landslide of speculation. Come on get down to brass tax and find out what is going on at the UM. No doubt O'dell is double dipping but he is giving up a large amount of money to go back to EMU. Why did he leave in the first place? Why go back for less than what he was getting before? What made him decide to leave the UM so quickly? Get some answers.......

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.

That's all people want to talk about these days. Give it a rest. lol

Joe Kidd

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

brass tax?


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:10 p.m.

ok Paula, time to pull out those FOIA things and see what you can find. Many commentors were upset that the last chief and the U signed non-disclosure agreements or answered &quot;no comment&quot; lets see if those were done here, as in are they standard procedures and not a reason to suggest the last chief did something wrong? what is O'Dells reason for wanting to leave the U for his old job for less money? (wow that says A LOT) it would be interesting to know why O'Dell would want to leave the UofM, was it the culture of the situation with which it was difficult for a police chief to operate? perhaps the U at the top is disfunctional in that it wants to be improperly involved in what is suppose to be an independant police department. the plot thickens.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:10 p.m.

Make up your mind!


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.

This may tie in with a recent story about the high pay of people in universities who do this type of work when compared to a non-university police department. It's probably an easy way for EMU to demonstrate they are being proactive in rolling back the pay of the chief. I wonder what the new UoM chief will be payed?


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

Great for EMU, but what's the back story on this?

Joe Kidd

Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

Based on how transparent the UM was on the scandal with the former chief, I would caution you not to hold your breath Cinn.


Wed, Nov 30, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

It could be that U Of M only wanted him to enforce law that are PC. But since the story doesnt provide this info we'll have to wait.