Protecting Your Alma Mater: An Interview with Chief Rozman

April 17, 2023

In March 2023, the Michigan State University Department of Police and Public Safety appointed Chris Rozman as the department’s new Chief of Police. Chief Rozman is a 2001 graduate of the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice. MSU SCJ had the opportunity to ask Chief Rozman a few questions about his journey in law enforcement and how he feels about becoming the Chief of Police at his alma mater.


What First Interested You in a Career in Law Enforcement and Public Safety?

Growing up, I had family members and family friends who worked in law enforcement. When I was in high school and first became interested in law enforcement, one of those family friends was a police officer in Warren, MI. In addition to introducing me to the officers in the department, he took me on a ride along and to the shooting range. We even went up in a helicopter.

I had always been pretty high-energy, so I knew a desk job wouldn’t be for me. But, being out in the field, working with the public, I really liked that idea – being able to help people.

So, I joined the Law Enforcement Explorer program with the Warren Police Department, which is a bit like a cadet program but for high schoolers interested in law enforcement. That allowed me to get more involved and even go to a few law enforcement conferences which really cemented my desire to go to college for law enforcement.


What Interested You in Studying Criminal Justice at Michigan State University?

Aside from MSU just being an awesome school, the fact that they had a world-class School of Criminal Justice really appealed to me. Actually, MSU was the only school I applied to, so I am very lucky that I was accepted. At the time, my plan was to go into local law enforcement first, but then work my way up to federal law enforcement. I knew that going to MSU would help me reach the federal level.


How Did You First Get Involved with the MSU Department of Police and Public Safety?

I actually started working at MSU DPPS as a student employee during my sophomore year. I started as a Greencoat, working security at special events and athletic events. I then became a police cadet and worked at the front desk and as a Student Supervisor.

When I was getting ready to graduate, I was planning on returning to Metro Detroit where I had a job offer from a local police department, but Captain Dale Metz and Captain Dave Trexler offered me a position with MSU DPPS. They even offered to sponsor me through the police academy in agreement to work at MSU DPPS for 3 years.


How Does It Feel to Be Chief of Police for The University You Went To For Your Undergrad?

It feels great honestly, and it is humbling and overwhelming. The fact that I can walk from my office, down the hall to the front desk where I sat as a student 26 years ago is incredible. I tell our students all the time that I literally sat in their seat at one point.

It is a really cool opportunity; and, you know, a majority of our police force are alumni from MSU. Serving at your alma mater, there is a different level of attachment when you are that vested in the community you are serving.


What Are Some of the Things You Are Hoping to Do in Your Role as Chief?

There are three things I really want to do right off the bat:

  1. I want to increase community outreach among all our officers. We have always had a strong community policing program and were one of the first university police departments in the country to implement such a program. Over the years, it has gone in different directions but I truly believe that community outreach and community engagement is an essential part of the job of all of our officers.

  2. Increase the use of data-driven, intelligence-led policing to drive our deployment of resources. I would like to be more strategic in the deployment of our resources in policing, public safety, and security.

  3. I want to support our employees by focusing on their wellness and improving our organizational culture. I want this to be a place where people want to come to work every day and feel supported while they are here. I am really passionate about organizational culture. The culture of an organization impacts the employees, which in turn impacts how they treat their constituents and even their families, and this is why I am so passionate about supporting our people. I really want to create an environment where our employees can succeed on a daily basis because I believe that leads to better relationships with the community.


How Do You Feel That The School of Criminal Justice Has Helped You Throughout Your Career?

It is two-fold. One, it helped prepare me for the profession by helping me attain my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. What I learned the most as a student studying Criminal Justice was think critically, look at things from different perspectives, and to understand that things aren’t always as they appear.

Also, post-graduation, I have continued to take professional development programs through the School of Criminal Justice. As I have progressed in my career and taken on executive roles, I went back to the School of Criminal Justice for their Professional Executive Development Series and the School of Staff and Command, which was a wonderful opportunity to come full circle.


Do You Have Any Advice for Students Who Are Currently Interested in a Career in Law Enforcement?

I do. When I am invited to speak to classes, I always ask the freshman students “who wants to work for the FBI?” – and a lot of the hands go up. I always tell my story and how I too originally wanted to go to the federal level. I remind them that there are so many opportunities available to them and that they have to choose what is going to be best for them, their family, and their values.

About ten years into my career, I had a job offer to go to the Secret Service and I had to choose whether to go or stay. MSU DPPS was a great place to work, the environment was supportive, the pay was good, it was stable and good for my family, and my values aligned with my daily work. So, I stayed.

I always tell students to think outside the box, because where they end up might not be where they think they want to end up right now. Focus more on what your values are and align them with the agency you choose to work for regardless of whether it is at the federal, state, or local level.