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UK names new police chief

The University of Kentucky named Maj. Joe Monroe its police chief, making him the first to have come up through the ranks of the university's police department.

Monroe, 41, sheds the "interim chief" label he's had for the past three years, since the previous chief, McDonald Vick, resigned in July 2006. Monroe was a finalist for the job when Vick was hired.

Monroe, who joined the UK police department in 1994, has "earned this opportunity and will serve UK well," said Anthany Beatty, UK's assistant vice president for campus services and a former Lexington police chief.

UK went three years without a permanent chief so leaders could assess Monroe's performance and discuss with various groups on campus their expectations for the public safety division.

"The feedback we were getting was positive in terms of the relationships that had been boosted under Major Monroe," Beatty said. UK officials, including Beatty, sought input on the hiring from most departments, including athletics; the UK Hospital; students; and staff and faculty groups.

"The university wanted to ensure that we took the time to make sure we got the right person for the job, given that the last two searches yielded good candidates but their tenures were short," Beatty said in an interview.

Vick resigned after five months on the job after details of a controversy at his former job became public and threatened his credibility at UK. His predecessor, Fred H. Otto III, was chief for 16 months before resigning in November 2004.

Monroe has been a patrol officer, detective, sergeant, lieutenant and major at UK

A UK release said that during his tenure, the department's officer staffing has increased, a task force has been formed to address underage drinking, and each police officer has been given a mobile data terminal to improve communication and response times.

"One of my goals is to make the UK police department one of the top 10 police departments in the state and a top 20 university police department in the nation," Monroe said in a statement.

The UK police department has a $5.4 million budget and 53 police officers, 58 security officers, nine telecommunications officers and three staff support personnel.

Monroe, a graduate of Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., is married to Leslie Monroe and has four children.