In an April 15 Today@Brown announcement, the Department of Public Safety announced the appointment of John Vinson as its new deputy chief. Vinson will work with Vice President for Campus Safety Rodney Chatman, according to the announcement. He will also work with community engagement, manage responses to incidents on campus and direct supervisors and line personnel within the department.
Vinson wrote in an email to The Herald that in his new position, he hopes to work with DPS to provide “innovative public safety services” to the University community. His first priority is to speak with members in the department to assess any changes that need to be made.
“My approach will be collaborative and inclusive with both internal and external stakeholders,” he wrote, adding that any changes made within the department should meet the expectations of both DPS members and members of the Brown community.
Vinson added that his twenty years of experience in university-level public safety will provide a framework for his role as deputy chief.
Chatman believes Vinson will listen to and understand the “unique expectations” of the University community, he wrote in an email to The Herald. He added that Vinson will also develop partnerships and collaborations with the greater Providence community.
Vinson wrote that he will regularly meet with students, staff, faculty and other stakeholders in order to engage with the community on campus. These meetings and other events could also include members of the Providence community, he wrote.
Vinson has experience with campus safety and previously worked at Indiana University, where he led policing and public safety reforms, according to the announcement. He also worked in campus safety leadership and was assistant vice president for campus and community safety at the University of Washington. Outside of University safety, Vinson previously served as an undersheriff for the Sheriff’s Department in Isabella County, Mich.
He “will bring to Brown a blend of public safety leadership, emergency management practice, doctoral-level training and teaching experience,” the announcement said.
Chatman added that Vinson, who was “enthusiastically recommended” for the position, was chosen from a competitive pool of applicants.
DPS’s search process included consulting a group of community stakeholders including faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, the Department of Residential Life, Facilities Management, the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, Dining Services and others.
The announcement added that Vinson comes to the position during a time when DPS is reexamining “the delivery of safety services to meet the expectations of modern police agencies.”
Chatman wrote that Vinson “impressed” him with the way he connects with students and understands “safety, security and well-being in an authentic way.” He added that this was important since there is “positive momentum” within public safety to include input from campus organizations such as “the Campus Safety Working Group, Community Outreach Survey and Undergraduate Council of Student Fall Poll.”
Vinson wants to have an “open and honest dialogue” with students who have concerns about DPS’s presence on campus to strengthen relationships with these students, he wrote. He added that DPS would also like to establish new mechanisms for students to share their concerns and express ways that DPS can enhance partnerships within the University community.
“I see the role of Deputy Chief … as one that is highly visible and collaborative within the Brown University and broader Providence community,” Vinson wrote.
Kaitlyn Torres is the senior editor of community for The Brown Daily Herald's 133rd Editorial Board. She previously covered diversity as a University News section editor. In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys listening to The Arctic Monkeys and going on archaeological digs.