Candidate interviews for new police chief begin Monday


Cassie Buchman

Police chief candidate Kent Martin, who has been serving as interim chief of the University Police Department since June, speaks at an open interviewing session in the Martinsville Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. Martin addressed how he would outreach to the campus and Charleston community during this session.

Cassie Buchman, News Editor

The search for a new permanent police chief for the University Police Department has begun, with candidate Kent Martin being interviewed in an open session Monday.

Heather Webb, director of student standards, said the new police chief would be announced some time after the first day of classes.

The need for the new position was announced through Eastern’s website, and several newspapers throughout the region, Webb said.

A search committee will offer feedback to interim associate vice president of student affairs Lynette Drake, who will then make the final decision.

Martin was the first candidate interviewed.

He has had over 22 years of experience in law enforcement, with his most recent being the interim police chief at Eastern.

“I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but I have a great network of people I can call and people I can go to to get the answer,” Martin said.

Martin said he has an existing relationship with on and off campus organizations such as the state attorney’s office and the courthouse.

He added that it will be a “seamless transition” into the new job because he has already had the responsibilities of a Chief of Police during his time as an interim in the position.

Martin replaced Lt. John Hatfill, who retired on May 31, and took the position this past June.

Before he came to Eastern, he was the police chief for the Kansas Police Department. He graduated from University of Tennessee-Martin with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 1992 and received a master’s degree in Technology from Eastern.

During his interview, Martin was asked how he plans to reach out to members of the Eastern community, and bridge that gap between it and the  Charleston communities.

Martin said he has different outreach programs in mind to connect with Eastern’s community.

“We’re planning to start small and hopefully we’ll be successful and grow from there,” he said.

These events include a “Coffee with the Cops” event on Wednesday, Aug. 31, which Martin hopes it will be the first of many icebreakers.

“The police department has kind of become isolated from the rest of the campus in the last few years,” he said. “I want to get us back out there. The way to do that is to talk to people.”

Martin also expressed interest in having officers meeting with Registered Student Organizations.

“Tell us what you’re thinking, what’s on your mind, what’s your concerns?” he said.

Martin said the great thing about these programs was that they did not take that much money-just a little time and planning.

In regards to the city, Martin said he always thought the UPD could work with the Charleston Police Department on outreach events they hold.

“They could start seeing us as people who just happen to be police officers instead of seeing us as police officers,” he said.

When it came to dealing with students in the wake of tension between police and civilians in different cities, Martin had some suggestions on the process of showing how officers are trained.

“There’s some force-on-force type situations that help illustrate just how quickly things happen,” Martin said. “Maybe those are some things we can work on making available.”

On Tuesday, candidate Peter Buckley is slated to be interviewed at 2 p.m. in the Martinsville Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union, followed by candidate Dennis Franks, also at 2 p.m. in the Union’s Shelbyville Room.