By Sam Rappaport
The University of Chicago has named Fountain L. Walker as their new chief of police. Walker has served as assistant chief of police since 2014 and replaces Marlon Lynch, chief of police since 2009, as the new top cop.
In a statement dated Aug. 13, the university’s vice president for operations and chief financial officer Rowan Miranda welcomed Walker to his new post.
“Through his exemplary performance as a UCPD leader, Fountain Walker has demonstrated his commitment to maintaining close and collaborative relationships with the university community and our neighbors,” Miranda said. “He has earned the respect of his peers and the communities we serve, and I know he will excel in his important new role.”
The importance of Walker’s connection with the Hyde Park community is significant. The UCPD patrols an area that covers 65,000 Chicago residents.
The UCPD’s relationship with the surrounding community has not been without occasional tension. A community forum last December at Experimental Station, 6100 S Blackstone Ave., addressed residents’ concerns of racial profiling by the UCPD. Two weeks ago, the Campaign for Equitable Policing, a student-led organization, alleged that it is part of UCPD practices to treat student infractions in a different manner than those of surrounding residents.
Spokesperson for the university Marielle Sainvilus rebuked these claims.
“The officers of the UCPD are highly trained and approach all members of the public in the same professional manner, regardless of who is involved,” Sainvilus said in a written statement.
Sainvilus also said that additional disciplinary options are available for U. of C. students.
“When the UCPD responds to an incident that involves a student, officers have additional disciplinary options that are unavailable for similar situations involving non-students,” Sainvilus said in a written statment.
She said the options include referring the students to the Dean of Students as an alternative to arrest in cases where an arrest is not warranted or making an arrest in addition to contacting the Dean of Students.
In a written statement, Walker expressed an eagerness to assume the role of chief of police.
“I am excited to continue working with a dynamic group of individuals who work tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of everyone we serve,” Walker said. “ I also look forward to continuing to build on the relationships I have been able to establish here at the University of Chicago.”
Previous chief of police Marlon Lynch will now serve as Associate Vice President for Safety, Security and Civic Affairs.