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MAY 20, 2021: Update on Rutherford Lot investigation
To the University community,
As our MTSU Police continue to aggressively pursue all leads in order to apprehend those responsible for hateful graffiti found last Friday on the fringes of our campus, I wish to give you a brief update. Our Police has gleaned helpful leads from security camera footage at the Rutherford Boulevard parking lot. I will keep you posted on their progress. We already have more than 800 cameras deployed on our campus and I have directed our police and information technology teams to add more to the Rutherford lot. Installation of these new cameras began today and they will connect into the existing campus Wifi and monitoring system.
Meanwhile, I want to introduce Kevin Williams, whom I appointed in late April to serve as MTSU’s interim police chief and assistant vice president. Chief Williams, a former Los Angeles police lieutenant who led campus policing at universities in Arizona, Michigan, New Hampshire, Oregon and Washington, will run our department as we conduct a national search to replace Chief Buddy Peaster, who announced in February his plans to retire. I deeply appreciate Chief Peaster’s service to our University.
“It is my honor to serve as the MTSU interim chief of police and it is my belief serving this institution is a privilege,” Chief Williams said. “I extend my sincere thanks for the trust and responsibility that has been placed with me and it is my intent to engage our students, faculty, and staff from the lens of a servant-guardian. As your chief, it is my commitment we will be and remain accessible and responsive.”
Chief Williams and the entire university family share my feelings of disgust over these recent actions, which Chief Williams called “repulsive and unacceptable.” Chief Williams said our department “will examine every lead and work with local investigators to solve this crime.”
I’ve also asked Professor Lynda Williams, a member of our Social Justice and Equality Task Force, to advise me on strategies to deter further acts of vandalism and enhance campus safety. Dr. Williams, an MTSU alumna, joined MTSU’s Criminal Justice Administration department after retiring from the U.S. Secret Service as an agent and deputy assistant director who protected a former U.S. president and former U.S. vice president. She is currently serving as president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. I deeply appreciate her willingness to serve the campus in this advisory role.
Finally, ugliness, bigotry and hatred can be found throughout the nation – and our campus is not immune from such despicable acts. I, along with the MTSU family, have zero tolerance for such behavior, which most certainly stand in contrast to our True Blue values. If you have any information that would help us find those accountable for these hateful actions, call MTSU Police at 615-898-2424 at any time, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Sidney A. McPhee