From chief to armed escorts

Emelia Hitchner

Former chief of police John Dean's resignation will be active in June.
Former chief of police John Dean’s contract was not renewed for another term.

Although John Dean resigned from his position as chief of police months ago, he’s still working for an $85,000 annual salary on campus.

Sharon Ashton, vice president for Public Relations, confirmed that Dean’s pay rate remains the same until his retirement. Dean’s current position is safety and training officer. His duties include crowd control for large events, safety training for the Museum of Contemporary Art and providing safety training programs for Greek and residential communities.

Dean also helps provide armed escorts for Brinks employees collecting cash and checks from the drop box on campus. The university considers Dean a police officer until his retirement.

Dean gave his resignation Sept. 9 and informed Mauricio Gonzalez, vice president of Student and International Affairs, he would be retiring June 30, 2014.

When Spinnaker asked to speak about his resignation and future plans, Dean said in an email, “Thank you for the offer, but I’m not interested at this time.”

In 2004, Dean joined the University Police Department at University of North Florida as assistant chief and four years later assumed the role of Chief of Police and Director of Police and Public Safety.

Throughout his years with UPD, Dean received good reviews on his performance for the university, contrary to the criticism he received in emails just months before his announced resignation.

In an email to Gonzalez on Aug. 20, former Sgt. Rod Nelson said Dean is the reason he decided to take a pay cut and leave the department.

“Chief Dean is a bully and if you look back in his past and everywhere he has been, it’s been the same song, RULE BY FEAR,” Nelson said. “There are officers that would still be with the department, to include myself, if it had not been for the way Chief Dean and Mark Richardson treated their officers.”

Former assistant chief Mark Richardson blames negative work environment for his exit.
Former assistant chief Mark Richardson blames negative work environment for his exit.

Mark Richardson was the assistant chief of UPD. Four days before Dean announced his resignation, Richardson received a notice of non-reappointment. Richardson’s last day was Dec. 4, 2013. Currently there is no assistant chief.

A day after the email from Nelson, Dean emailed Gonzalez, informing him that an employee told Dean she was tired of the “negativity of some bad seeds” in her exit interview.

Gonzalez replied in an email saying that the department used to be in good shape when Dean first took over and that Dean was not being accountable with the department he was entrusted.

Gonzalez declined an interview with Spinnaker.

Mary McConville, Student Affairs executive assistant, responded for Gonzalez via email stating that it was his standard practice not to discuss personnel matters with any staff members or media outlets.

During Dean’s time as chief, he dealt with several scenarios, including the hiring of Sgt. Gustav Carlson, an Atlantic Beach policeman who underwent investigation in 2010 for hitting a girl on a bicycle with his vehicle. Carlson resigned from his position with the Atlantic Beach Police Department. Months later, Dean hired Carlson without the UPD first reviewing the internal affairs investigation report.

The report confirmed there was sufficient evidence that Gustav had collided with the bike rider. Gustav did not report the incident. He currently works at UNF as a traffic officer.

Interim chief Charles Strudel
Interim chief Charles Strudel

In May 2012, Dean asked Richardson to begin an internal investigation regarding a harassment complaint against Lt. James Gwynes. The case was not sustained under the discretion of Richardson, in which Dean concurred. Gwynes currently works for the UPD.

Interim Chief Charles Strudel did not wish to interview with Spinnaker concerning Dean. Strudel said that he cannot speak for the University, but no search is currently underway to fill the position for chief of police. Strudel said he would take the position if it was offered to him.