John Pickens, campus police chief for Arizona State University, is leaving his position earlier than expected after the video of a professor's arrest created a firestorm of criticism.
As first reported Thursday in the Integrity Report, a blog by an "anonymous coalition of people associated with the ASU Police Department," Morgan Olsen, ASU's treasurer, chief financial officer and vice-president, sent an email to ASU PD employees dated July 9 stating that Pickens will be gone as of this afternoon.
A June news release by ASU about Pickens' impending departure to a new security position at the university quotes Olsen saying, "Pickens will continue to serve as ASU police chief while a national search is completed and until his successor is on board."
But in the July 9 email, Olsen makes it clear that the search has not been completed: "as you know, a national search for a new police chief is well under way, and we will update you on that effort as it develops."
Olsen did not return calls to New Times on Thursday, but one of his staff members said she'd seen the email and didn't question its authenticity.
Pickens made himself unavailable to New Times when we went to ASU PD headquarters on Thursday. Assistant Chief Mike Thompson has been named interim chief.
This morning, Sharon Keeler, ASU spokesman, had no information about Pickens leaving early, instead arguing that it was "speculation" to connect the facts of his early departure with the terrible week ASU PD just had.
She claimed that Pickens "had" to take accrued vacation time, but would not clarify her statement, saying she'd have to get back to us with answers.
Assistant Chief James Hardina is also leaving, according to the Integrity Report. New Times could not immediately verify that.
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