University of Iowa posts ad for new public safety director

New leader must have 'ethical leadership skills, diplomacy, and good judgment'

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IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa on Wednesday began advertising for a new public safety director — two weeks after replacing its interim director amid accusations he interfered with a Johnson County Sheriff’s Office investigation last summer.

The position description — which lists among its required qualifications “ethical leadership skills, diplomacy, and good judgment” — is being advertised in publications and on websites like Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, and Diverse Issues in Higher Ed.

UI administrators are finalizing a search committee for the position, but spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said it will include representatives from the Dean of Students, Department of Public Safety, Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator, along with human resources and finance and operations, among others.

The goal is to fill the position within two to three months, according to Beck.

Among duties outlined in the position description is the responsibility to “act as chief law enforcement officer for the university and serve as liaison for the university when communicating with outside law enforcement agencies.”

Basic responsibilities of the director — who oversees about 75 employees, including 25 police officers and 19 security officers — include providing vision, leadership, and management for the public safety program that serves the 32,000-student campus, its 22,000 faculty and staff, and thousands of daily visitors.

According to the advertisement, the new director will be responsible for developing policies, procedures, and directives; coordinating the UI response to critical incidents; contributing to strategic planning; and directing the department’s financial operations.

Regarding the UI public safety director’s communication and outreach duties, he or she must “maintain effective liaison with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies;” collaborate with UI and community officials to enhance campus safety; and plan, coordinate, and monitor outreach programs.

David Visin, who had served as UI public safety associate director since 2006, was promoted to interim director in January 2015 following former director Chuck Green’s retirement. Because the public safety position reports to the UI senior vice president for finance and operations, which also was operating under interim direction until a new UI president came on board, Visin remained in the interim role for more than a year.

The Board of Regents on Feb. 25 approved Rod Lehnertz for the finance and operations vice presidency, allowing Lehnertz to proceed in filling those interim jobs under him.

Days later, records became public revealing concerns over Visin’s alleged interference with a Sheriff’s Office investigation. Deputy Brad Kunkel, according to an incident report, said Visin impeded his ability to investigate a hit-and-run involving Visin’s stepson, Sean Crane, on June 25 by driving away from authorities and refusing to stop.

Visin had been with Crane at a bar earlier in the day, after which Crane crashed into parked cars. When Visin was driving Crane later that evening, Kunkel called Visin on his cellphone and asked him to pull over so he could speak with Crane about the hit-and-run, according to the incident report.

Visin, at the time, refused and said he needed to drop off a trailer. He later told a reporter he had low blood sugar and didn’t want to disclose his diabetes. In emails provided to The Gazette, Visin told Kunkel he was trying to protect his granddaughter from his stepson’s substance-abuse problems.

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness in July met with Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek and Visin to discuss the incident. She also spoke with Lehnertz at that time about the issue but declined to file charges.

Lyness has not responded to questions from The Gazette about why she declined to file charges. Pulkrabek said, “What we want or didn’t want is irrelevant.”

Visin initially remained in his interim director role, and Lehnertz in a statement said, “There were no legal actions or university policies violated, and based on the information shared with me at the time, I determined this was an internal personnel matter.”

After news of the incident became public, Pulkrabek told The Gazette he didn’t think it would prevent his agency from working with UI police in the future. But, when asked if Visin’s actions created trust issues, Pulkrabek said, “I trust members of the University of Iowa law enforcement agency.”

Days later, the university announced it was replacing Visin with Lucy Wiederholt, a 30-year veteran who had served as associate director and UI police chief since 2010. Visin was returned to his previous position as associate director in charge of compliance with the Jeanne Clery Act, departmental reporting, and support services.

Lehnertz, in a statement, said the decision to appoint Wiederholt “was made to allow the UI department of public safety to remain focused on the work of creating a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff.”

Visin in the interim director role made $125,233 in the 2015 budget year, according to the State of Iowa salary book. Before that appointment, he made $100,459, according to 2014 numbers.

According to this week’s advertisement for a public safety director, required qualifications include a master’s degree — or equivalent — in criminal justice, law enforcement, or a related discipline; 10-plus years of supervisory experience; strong leadership skills; and “demonstrated ethical leadership skills, diplomacy, and good judgment.”

Desired qualifications include experience managing transitions from a current to desired culture, and experience with or knowledge of “major functional processes of the University of Iowa.”

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