Published: Sept. 28, 2018

Police chief will retire after career spanning five decades at MSU

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After nearly 50 years of service, Chief Jim Dunlap will retire from the Michigan State University Police Department effective April 1, 2019. Dunlap will be chief until the end of 2018 and then serve in an advisory role to assist the department during the transition to a new chief.

“I’ve had a fantastic career,” Dunlap said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the officers I’ve served with or the work we’ve done. It’s never easy to leave a place and people that you love, but it’s been 50 years and now is my time.”

After becoming chief in 2002, Dunlap expanded the department’s commitment to community policing to include all department members. Under his leadership, innovative units and teams were developed including the Bike Unit, Motor Unit, Inclusion and Anti-Bias Unit, Behavioral Threat Assessment Unit, Digital Forensics and Cyber Crime Unit and Special Victims Unit. In October 2017, MSU became the fifth institution of higher education in the nation and only the second program in Michigan to be accredited in emergency management.

Dunlap recently announced development of a comprehensive program for a trauma-informed and victim-centered law enforcement for investigations into relationship violence and sexual assault. The new program is a model for other law enforcement agencies and provides trainings across the country. In the future, the plan is to build a center at MSUPD and utilize subject matter experts in trauma-informed victim investigations.

“I can’t praise Chief Dunlap enough for the work he’s done,” said MSU Interim President John Engler. “When I started in February I immediately recognized that he is an incredible leader and whose judgement and guidance was invaluable. Jim is also a visionary. He’s spent nearly 20 years innovating and modernizing the police department, building relationships and partnerships and, above all, keeping our community safe. MSU will miss Chief Dunlap but we will never forget his extraordinary service.”

After joining MSU’s department in 1969, Dunlap graduated from the Michigan State Police Basic Police Academy in 1970. He was promoted to sergeant in 1973 and to lieutenant in 1979. He became a captain in 1984 and was named deputy chief in charge of the police bureau in 1987. He served as assistant chief from 1999 until his selection as chief in 2002.

A native of Adrian, Dunlap attended Howe Military Academy in Indiana. He studied at John Carroll University in Ohio before coming to MSU, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in biological science and pre-law.

Dunlap is only the fourth police chief at the university in more than 70 years. The first, Arthur F. Brandstatter, served from 1947 to 1960. He was succeeded by Richard O. Bernitt, who served until 1986, when Bruce L. Benson was hired.

A search to find the next police chief will begin in October.

MSU Police Chief Jim Dunlap