U.Va. names Tommye Sutton new police chief

UPD Captain Melissa Fielding was chosen to be interim chief of police until Sutton begins

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The University Police Department will be led by Tommye Sutton beginning on Aug. 1. Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

Tommye Sutton — deputy chief of police at Northwestern University — was named assistant vice president and chief of police for the University Police Department Monday afternoon. He will begin Aug. 1. 

Effective immediately, UPD Captain Melissa Fielding will serve as interim chief of police until Sutton’s tenure begins.

“I am looking forward to joining the men and women of the University Police Department in providing exceptional service delivery, community engagement, and fostering partnerships to meet the needs of the UVA community,” Sutton said in a University press release.

Sutton had also worked at Vanderbilt University and the University of Chicago, and he is currently working towards his doctorate in higher education leadership from Concordia University Chicago.

After former Chief Michael Gibson announced his retirement in May, a search committee was created to find his replacement. The committee was created by Gloria Graham, University associate vice president for safety and security, and Patrick Hogan, University executive vice president and chief operating officer. Dean of Students Allen Groves chaired the committee.

Gibson was criticized for his response to the deadly Unite the Right rally last August by former U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy in his report commissioned by the City of Charlottesville in December. Heaphy said Gibson failed to create a “comprehensive plan” to separate white nationalists and counter-protesters on the evening of Aug. 11, when white nationalists marched through Grounds with torches. 

Sutton will begin his role as UPD chief less than two weeks before a proposed anniversary of the Unite the Right rally planned by white nationalist and organizer of last year’s fatal rally, Jason Kessler.

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