“I think Bob [Heighes] is a dedicated, professional leader who cares very deeply for [Eastern Michigan University] and the employees he works with,” said EMU police officer John Phillips. “He’s a great boss to work with. I feel honored and privileged to be part of this university’s police department and to have Bob Heighes as our chief.”
Out of the five finalists that EMU interviewed for the job, Heighes was chosen. His appointment was effective April 20, with a starting salary of $128,000.
Heighes was EMU’s interim executive director of public safety and chief of police while EMU searched to fill the position following former chief of police Greg O’Dell’s death.
Having worked closely with O’Dell for several years, Heighes said he plans to lead the department similarly to how O’Dell did.
“We’re going to continue to follow through what Greg had outlined, and continue to move the department forward,” Heighes said.
He said O’Dell taught him a lot and would have supported his appointment as chief.
“We had a great relationship,” Heighes said. “I learned a lot of things from Greg. I know if he were still here today, he would have been one of my strongest advocates to achieve this position.”
“I miss him,” he said. “I miss him greatly.”
Heighes, who lives in Pinckney, has worked at EMU since 1984 and has served as a campus police officer, sergeant and as lieutenant and assistant director of the department. He has also served as interim executive director of public safety on three separate
“I’m extremely happy, very proud,” Heighes said. “I’m very honored … to be selected as chief after 28 years.”
Heighes graduated from EMU with a Bachelor of Science degree in public administration in 1995 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public safety administration at EMU.
He also completed law enforcement executive leadership programs at Northwestern University, Central Michigan University and the EMU School of Police Staff and Command.
In an email by EMU Director of Media Relations Geoff Larcom, President Susan Martin was quoted as saying she was “delighted” that Heighes was selected.
“Bob knows and loves the campus, and our police force team has done great work,” Martin said. “Bob’s leadership and experience here have been crucial in protecting the campus and in quickly solving crimes.”
Despite his new role as chief, Heighes stressed the value of his officers. He said he was excited to continue to work with other members of the EMU PD to improve the campus environment.
“I have a great team here at DPS,” Heighes said. “I’m sure we’ll all work hard together to maintain the safety of the campus.”
Phillips said he thinks the Police Department has been moving in a positive direction and that Heighes will continue to lead it in that direction.
“I think Bob’s got a vision for this organization to get nothing but better,” Phillips said. “I think the relationships we currently have and the community policing style that all of our officers are involved with has really been proven to show that we are earning the trust back from this community.”
Heighes said he was “excited” for his new job and looking forward “to all those challenges that are going to come with it.”
“I like it. I enjoy it. That’s the bottom line. If I didn’t like it or enjoy it, I couldn’t do the job,” he said.