New MSU Police Chief plans to build transparency and community policing

Chief's goals: Transparency and accountability
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 6:56 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan State University’s new Police Chief focuses on transparency and community policing as the department is closely scrutinized.

Marlon Lynch officially starts April 1 and when he does, he says he plans to hit the ground running. He says he plans on focusing on transparency, diversity, inclusion, and building relationships with the community.

“The department should reflect the community that it serves. It should be structured in a manner that is transparent and establishes levels of accountability. But most importantly, being accessible,” said Lynch.

Lynch started his policing career in Meridian Township. Diversity and equity have been huge values of his ever since.

“I think community engagement is probably definitely one of the top priorities. With that, and it’s making the change to what’s again what’s needed, specifically for the MSU community with that. And that would be definitely in close partnership with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts,” said Lynch.

He told News 10 he knows he isn’t walking into a picture perfect situation, but he’s an MSU alumni and feels like the position is a full circle type of situation.

“It’s a job that I always said, if I had the opportunity and the timing was right, that I would pursue it and everything has fallen into place,” said Lynch.

But community trust has dwindled over the years. When MSU police assistant Chief Valerie O’Brien was demoted to captain, the department said next to nothing.

The silence continued when she was arrested last week, and it’s university-wide.

“That information does belong to a to a different agency, and this is also kind of one of those instances where you know there are some, some personnel matters that that we have to adhere to, and abide by and so that’s what we’re going to continue doing and I’m sure there will be more information coming out, and as the investigating process moves forward,” said Melody Kindraka, with MSU Communications.

We still don’t know why O’Brien was demoted or arrested. Lynch says he knows it’s not a good look.

“Anytime there’s an incident like that. It definitely has an impact on the department and the institution to say that it would not, that would not be accurate. there’s going to be an impact, for sure,” said Lynch.

Amid repeated accusations that the department is not open with the public Lynch says his vow as Chief is to get ahead of things before they become issues and be as transparent as possible.

“That’s very important because if not, what it leads to is not being as trusting as as good as you could actually be in those particular circumstances. And that’s how credibility is established, so it’s important to have that going into a situation so that our community would would be confident that whatever decisions are made, will be well informed and would be appropriate,” said Lynch.

Students on campus who have their own frustrations with campus police hope his promises translate to real change.

“Honestly all I can say is we will see,” said Sophomore Madison Wilson.

Freshman Olivia Kimbrough agrees the words are nice but she wants to see action.

“There’s always going to be a bad apple it seems in the justice system and unless those are dealt with at the hand of him, the new chief that’s coming in, nothing is going to change,” said Kimbrough.

Lynch says he plans to have a listening tour across campus once he’s on the job.

He’ll also be taking a look at the daily crime and safety log to see what areas they can improve on like adding more information and sending out warnings earlier.

Once Chief Lynch starts, the Chiefs of police in Lansing, East Lansing, and at Michigan State University will all be black men.

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