YPSILANTI – Matthew Lige, a 28-year-old public safety veteran in Washtenaw County, will become the next executive director of public safety and chief of police at Eastern Michigan University. Lige will replace Robert Heighes, who will retire at the end of September after serving the past nine years as executive director of public security and chief police officer of the EMU.
Lige, 51, is currently Deputy Chief of Police / Deputy Director of Emergency Management at Washtenaw Community College, a position he has held since April 2018. From 1997 to 2018, he was a member of the Ann Arbor Police Department , starting as a patroller. and become commander of the investigation division and the administrative division as a lieutenant. From 1994 to 1997, he was a patroller in the Ypsilanti Police Department.
It was selected after a nationwide search yielded five finalists, each of whom came to campus for a day of interviews, including a public forum. The appointment, which takes effect on August 23, 2021, is subject to the approval of the Board of Regents.
“We are delighted to welcome Chief Lige to the Eastern Michigan University community,” said University President James Smith. “Chief Lige’s commitment to a community approach to policing and serving our students, faculty and staff was evident throughout the interview process. At the same time, he understands the profound challenges of trust and accountability faced by police and police services at the local and national levels, and the importance of building positive collaborations and relationships on campus.
“His work at Washtenaw Community College, combined with his 22 years as an officer, sergeant and detective for the Ann Arbor Police Department, and his three years as an officer in the Ypsilanti Police Department, provide an exceptional knowledge base on our campus and the large Ypsilanti / Washtenaw community.
“I am honored to have been chosen to lead the public security team at EMU,” said Lige. “I am aware of the difficult relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve across our country. Principles of accountability, transparency and legitimacy in the provision of security services to all students, faculty, staff and visitors. I look forward to working with the talented men and women of the Department of Public Safety at Eastern Michigan University. ”
Lige will head a public security department with a staff of over 50, including 30 sworn officers, which focuses on community policing with regular and direct interaction with students, faculty and staff through foot patrols , by bicycle and motor vehicle. Academic investments in the department include a new police headquarters building which opened in September 2009, body cameras for all its agents, de-escalation training, and a special victim unit with trained officers.
Technology upgrades that support a safe campus environment include an SMS and bulk email alert system that provides immediate notification to students, faculty, and staff of major issues or shutdowns related to campuses. weather conditions, over 1,000 cameras on campus, an outdoor-indoor emergency speaker system, and electronic ID card locks on residence doors.
Lige will report directly to President Smith as a member of the University’s executive board, as will Chief Heighes. This structure ensures that information about security or criminal activity on campus is communicated directly to the president and other members of the Eastern leadership team.
He is an alumnus of the East, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration. He also attended the Police Chief Executive School at Michigan State University and participated in the Staff and Command program at Eastern Michigan University.
Lige lives in Tecumseh. His annual salary will be $ 150,000.
Chief Heighes’ public safety career spanned 45 years, as Deputy Sheriff in Baraga County, Michigan, from 1977 to 1984, before joining the Department of Public Safety at Eastern Michigan University in over the past 38 years. He started as a patrol officer, then served in the ranks with additional responsibilities before being appointed chief in April 2012 following a national search.
“My sincere gratitude and appreciation to Chief Heighes,” said EMU President Smith. “Words are not enough to capture what he has meant to me and to the Eastern Michigan University community. He set a remarkable example of what leadership and commitment to public safety should strive to be. I wish him peace, happiness and good health for his retirement.
About the University of Eastern Michigan
Founded in 1849, Eastern is Michigan’s second oldest public university. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctorate and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In total, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are awarded by the colleges of arts and sciences of the University; Company; Education; Engineering and technology; Health and social services; and, his graduate school. UEM is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University’s website.