Last chief of police interviews held

Story by Alicia Steele, Staff writer and Ashley Traylor, Staff writer

Now that the four finalists have interviewed on campus, the search committee for chief of police and Director of Public Safety and Emergency Management will make its recommendation within the next week to Jackie Dudley, vice president of finance and administrative services.

Interviews for chief of police concluded this week after the final two of four applicants visited campus to field questions from Murray State faculty, staff and students.

Earlier this month, Roy Dunaway, current interim chief of police, and Robert L. Spinks, chief of police at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, held their forums. (See for coverage of their interviews.)

The final candidate, James Herring, held his forum Monday and told the audience he wants to get to know Murray State during his first months as chief, and he would want to discuss his leadership rules, values and experience on the job.

The third candidate, Klay Peterson, held his forum Friday and told the audience about his experience as chief of police and Director of Public Safety at both the University of South Carolina Upstate and California Lutheran University and answered questions that followed.




Peterson said he chose to apply at Murray State because it was a department he wouldn’t have to “clean up.”

“Everything I have heard and seen about the staff and faculty is that Murray reflects an outstanding pool of people who work cohesively, who care about each other and take time for each other,” Peterson said.

During his time at Upstate, Peterson said he created a program known as “Good Will Hunting,” to promote better relationships between students and the officers. This program required officers to meet one new person on campus. It resulted in an annual survey showing officers were more visible on campus.

Peterson said his time teaching criminal justice classes was also a great way to build relationships with students and learn what they struggle with to better help them.

During the forum, Peterson told the audience that he once joined a sheriff deputy to pick up a robbery suspect, and while stopped at a red light, the deputy began yelling profanity out of the car window to a white schoolteacher with 25 young African Americans.

When they arrived at the suspect’s home, the deputy placed a gun under the chin of the suspect’s sister and told her if she didn’t tell him where her brother was, he would kill him and the county would buy another bullet.

“In that moment I knew that my police career, wherever it took me, I was going to be everything that man was not,” Peterson said. “He was an embarrassment to the badge, to the profession and his community.”

To end his forum, Peterson said he believes that to be an effective leader, one must be a disciple.

“You are willing to serve and help others,” Peterson said. “When we signed up on this job and raised our right arm, we signed to do just that.”




The final candidate, James Herring, spent Monday on campus and told the audience he wants to get to know Murray State before making changes in the department.

Herring applied to Murray State after retiring from his position as chief of police at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Before that, he served as the assistant chief, a sergeant and then lieutenant in the field operations division.

Herring said he retired in 2015 for financial reasons, because in North Carolina the pension plan allowed him to retire and bring home roughly the same amount as a salary.

“I could make as much staying home as I could working,” Herring said.

He said during his time as chief of police, North Carolina banned pornography. During this time, a student began posting flyers around campus advertising the sale of pornographic movies. Herring said he went undercover and was able to arrest the suspect.

“This was the only successful prosecution of that law in North Carolina,” Herring said.

Herring said he was interested in Murray State because of the personal interaction he could have with students and staff.

Herring said he believes if crime happens around campus, than it relates to campus, so it is expected for campus police to be involved.

He also said Greensboro used the Livesafe app, similar to Murray State. During the launch of the app, Herring sat in a dunking booth and told students that if they showed him that they downloaded the app, they would get three balls to throw to dunk him in the water.

Herring repeatedly told the audience that he wants to get to know Murray State, learn how to be an officer at Murray State and where the buildings are before making any major changes to the department.

“I can’t see coming in and making wholesale changes without knowing why things are the way they are,” Herring said.

Herring said he believes officers should have time off if a family issue arises.

“If you’ve got something going on with your family, I will make sure you get time off if I have to put a uniform on and drive around myself,” Herring said.