After months of searching for a replacement for the position, Greg O’Dell, former chief of police at Eastern Michigan University, has been hired as executive director of the University’s Department of Public Safety.

O’Dell will begin his appointment on Aug. 22, according to University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald. He will be replacing DPS Police Captain Joe Piersante who is currently serving as interim public safety director after former DPS Chief of Police Ken Magee took a medical leave of absence in February. Magee will remain on leave and retain his title and salary until O’Dell begins, according to Fitzgerald.

O’Dell’s position will entail overseeing and directing “crime prevention, law enforcement, and safety and security services of the University,” according to an Aug. 1 University press release. Fitzgerald said he believes O’Dell’s experience and knowledge of the city will aid him in accomplishing these tasks.

“He’s got that great combination of deep knowledge of the Ann Arbor community and the police in this community specifically,” Fitzgerald said. “He lives in Ann Arbor, and also has the experience of having worked at another university, which I think was important to the University of Michigan to find someone that had that experience of working in a university setting.”

Fitzgerald added that in choosing O’Dell, the University was impressed that he was known for having “great integrity and openness.”

Joe Piersante, interim executive director of DPS, echoed Fitzgerald, adding that O’Dell — who worked for the Ann Arbor Police Department for over 20 years — was chosen for his vast experience and reputation.

“I think Greg is an excellent choice,” Piersante said. “He’s got a great reputation in law enforcement in Washtenaw County, and he’s had experience as a deputy chief at the Ann Arbor Police Department. He’s a man of high moral integrity. I think it’s a good choice and I think he’ll do well here at the University of Michigan.”

He added he believes O’Dell’s experience working in both Ann Arbor as well as in a campus setting at Eastern Michigan University will allow him to deal with the challenges currently facing University police, such as the recent assaults against women near campus.

“I think he’s well-suited to handle the challenge and any problem that may face him,” Piersante said. “When he was the deputy chief at Ann Arbor and I was the deputy chief at University of Michigan, we had numerous occasions to lead and collaborate on crime.”

According to the University press release, O’Dell has resided in Ann Arbor with his wife for more than 20 years. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University, attended the University of Toledo College of Law and graduated from the FBI National Academy.

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