Veteran officer Robert Heighes named executive director of public safety and chief of police at Eastern Michigan University

by Geoff Larcom, Published April 19, 2012

Robert Heighes, who has served as a police officer at Eastern Michigan University for 28 years, including three stints as interim executive director of public safety, has been named to the permanent position of chief of police and executive director of public safety at EMU.

Robert Heighes

Heighes, 57, was selected after a national search yielded five finalists, each of whom came to campus for a day of interviews, including a public forum. The appointment, which is effective April 20, is subject to approval by the Board of Regents.

"This is a very important position for Eastern Michigan, and we feel strongly that Bob Heighes will continue the excellent work he's done in overseeing our public safety efforts," said Roy Wilbanks, chairman of the EMU Board of Regents. "EMU is a special place, and Bob, who is an EMU alumnus, knows it so well. He has an exceptional history here in a variety of law enforcement roles."

"I am delighted with the selection of Bob Heighes as our chief of police," Eastern Michigan President Susan Martin said. "Bob knows and loves the campus, and our police force team has done great work. Campus safety and security is a central focus at EMU and at any university, and Bob's leadership and experience here have been crucial in protecting the campus and in quickly solving crimes."

"I am pleased to be named to this position," Heighes said. "I care a great deal about EMU and the welfare of our students and employees. I am proud and honored to be selected, and I want to thank the president, the Board of Regents, the employees of the Department of Public Safety and the entire EMU community for their support."

The Department of Public Safety has been significantly enhanced during President Martin's four-year tenure, including the dedication of a state-of-the-art police headquarters at the northwest end of campus in September 2009.

Other public safety initiatives include RAVE text and email alerts, a public address emergency system, programs to encourage students to lock their doors, expanded foot patrols, a community-policing approach that has officers interacting directly with students, installation of electronic ID card locks on residence hall doors in freshman living areas, and expanded electronic camera surveillance.

EMU also established a Crime Response Unit, which responds quickly to incidents and has solved numerous crimes.  

Chief Heighes will report directly to President Martin as a member of the university's Executive Council. Such a structure ensures that information about safety or criminal activity on campus is communicated directly with the president and others on Eastern's leadership team.

"The Chief calls me first, whatever time it is, to keep me immediately informed on important incidents, and has full authority to take action as he sees fit," Martin said. "I review every police report, and our campus is safer than ever. Our team works quickly to prevent and solve crime on campus."

Heighes is an Eastern alumnus, graduating with a bachelor of science degree in public administration in 1995. He is currently completing a masters in public safety administration at EMU. He graduated from law enforcement executive leadership programs at Northwestern and Central Michigan universities, and from the EMU School of Police Staff and Command. Heighes earned an associate of applied science degree from Michigan Tech in 1975.

Heighes, who has worked at EMU since 1984, has also served as lieutenant/assistant director of the department, and as a sergeant and campus police officer. He worked as a deputy sheriff in the Baraga County Sheriff's Department from 1977 to 1984.

Heighes lives in Pinckney. His annual salary will be $128,000. Under EMU hiring policy, the selection is pending a background check.



Geoff Larcom


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