FSU hires law enforcement veteran as new chief of police

Rhonda Harris has 37 years experience in law enforcement, including nearly a decade as chief of police at Old Dominion University.
Rhonda Harris has 37 years experience in law enforcement, including nearly a decade as chief of police at Old Dominion University.

Florida State University announced Thursday that Rhonda L. Harris, a 37-year law enforcement veteran, is its new assistant vice president for public safety and chief of police. She will start in the position in May.

Harris comes to FSU from Old Dominion University where she has served as chief of police since 2012, adding the title of assistant vice president for public safety in 2014.

Vice President of Finance and Administration Kyle Clark said Harris’ credentials and track record of success help make her a welcome addition at FSU.

“The safety of our students and the entire campus community is a responsibility that we take very seriously,” Clark said. “I am delighted that Chief Harris has agreed to join us. Her dedication to public safety and decades of experience, including serving campus communities, make her a great fit to lead the FSU Police Department.

In her new role, Harris will oversee the FSU Police Department, a fully accredited law enforcement agency employing about 80 sworn officers and is responsible for law enforcement, campus access and security services, emergency management, and transportation and parking services on campus properties.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead this department,” Harris said. “I’m looking forward to meeting the FSU community and working together to help ensure we maintain a safe campus environment.

Before Old Dominion, Harris spent 23 years at Rutgers University, where she started as a police officer in 1989 and rose through the ranks to serve as chief of police from 2006-2012.

Harris, who began her career in law enforcement in 1985 as a police officer in El Reno, Oklahoma, holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rutgers University, a master’s degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a master’s degree in public affairs and administration from Rutgers.

She is also a graduate of the West Point Command and Leadership Program, the Advanced Police Executive Development Program of Penn State, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminars, The FBI National Academy Session #232, and the Harvard Kennedy School for Executive Education.

The announcement of Harris caps a national search to fill the post, which has been vacant since last August after the retirement of Terri Brown, who stepped down after 30 years on the force at FSU. Justin Maloy served in an interim capacity during the search for Brown’s replacement.