Former Detective Commander Ann Arbor appointed Chief of Police at the University of Eastern Michigan
YPSILANTI, MI – Eastern Michigan University on Monday selected Matthew Lige, Deputy Police Chief of Washtenaw Community College, to become the school’s new director of public safety.
Lige beat four other finalists for the job, including Pittsfield Township Public Safety Director Matthew Harshberger, according to an Aug. 9 EMU statement.
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Lige will replace current EMU police chief Robert Heighes in September, the statement said, and the starting salary will be $ 150,000.
For nearly three decades, Lige has rebounded around various law enforcement roles in Washtenaw County. The Tecumseh resident, 51, took up the post of deputy chief of police and deputy director of emergency management at Washtenaw Community College in April 2018, the statement said.
Previously, he had worked his way up the Ann Arbor Police Department since 1997, as the Commander of the Investigations Division. For three years starting in 1994, he served as a patroller in the Ypsilanti Police Department.
Lige was also chosen over Captain Rodney Anderson of the Lansing Police Department, Chief Matthew Kierderlen of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Police Department and Captain Kyra Joy Hope of the Detroit Police Department.
Lige’s choice was made because of his “community approach to the police,” EMU President James Smith said in a statement.
“At the same time, he understands the profound challenges of trust and accountability faced by police and police services at the local and national level, and the importance of forging positive collaborations and relationships on campus,” Smith said in his statement.
Lige has recognized the “difficult relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve” nationally, and aims to bridge the gap with the EMU community.
“I am firmly committed to the principles of accountability, transparency and legitimacy in providing security services to all students, faculty, staff and visitors,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the talented men and women of the Department of Public Safety at the University of Eastern Michigan. “
The EMU police department consists of more than 50 staff, including 30 sworn officers, officials said. The statement also highlighted the department’s community policing efforts since 2009, such as body cameras for all its agents, de-escalation training and a special unit for victims.
Lige reports directly to Smith to ensure “that information about security or criminal activity on campus is communicated directly to the president and other members of Eastern’s management team,” the statement said.
He graduated from EMU with a bachelor’s degree in public administration, as well as its staff and command program. He also attended Michigan State University’s Police Chief Executive School, the statement said.
September will mark the end of Heighes’ nearly three decades of climbing the ranks of the EMU police department. He took up his role as chef in April 2012, and his overall career spans 45 years.
“My sincere gratitude and appreciation to Chief Heighes,” Smith said in a statement. “Words are not enough to capture what he has meant to me and to the Eastern Michigan University community. He set a remarkable example of what leadership and commitment to public safety should strive to be. I wish him peace, happiness and good health for his retirement.
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