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ASU announces Michael Thompson as new chief of police

portrait of Michael Thompson
October 31, 2014

After a nationwide search, Arizona State University has chosen Michael Thompson to be its new chief of police. Morgan R. Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer, made the announcement today.  Thompson takes on his new role after serving as the ASU Police Department acting chief since July of this year.

“Michael Thompson has proven his leadership skills through a range of responsibilities with the ASU Police Department, as a commander, assistant chief, and most recently, acting chief of police," Olsen said. “Chief Thompson’s dedication to public safety and law enforcement were clearly evident throughout the national search the University conducted for a new chief. We are confident he will build on his career experience and personal attributes to be an exceptional leader for the ASU Police Department.”

Olsen said that under Thompson’s leadership, the department will increase ASU Police Department staffing including both officers and police aides.

Following more than two decades of service to the City of Mesa Police Department, Thompson joined the ASU Police Department in May 2008. During his ASU tenure, he has served as the ASU West Campus commander, support services commander and support services assistant chief.

“The Chief of Police position truly is an honor that carries an enormous responsibility,” said Thompson. “I welcome the opportunity to continue to work with our diverse university community and the municipalities around our multiple campus locations. We do a great job of keeping the campus safe, and in the future we will also become more engaged in the daily life of the campus community.”

During his career with the Mesa Police Department, Thompson served as a detective, forensic artist and a member of the Major Incident Response Team. He also was a patrol sergeant and a field-training officer for many years.

Thompson is a native Arizonan. He graduated from the Leadership in Police Organizations at Arizona Police Officer Standards and Training (AZPOST) and has completed numerous law enforcement-related training courses during his 28-year career.

“I’ve always loved ASU,” Thompson said. “I grew up in Mesa and always felt that it was an honor and a privilege to be at ASU.”

Thompson holds an associates degree in police science from Mesa / Rio Salado Community College, as well as a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees focusing on leadership and education from Northern Arizona University. He also has completed coursework in fine arts and legal studies at ASU.  

“Chief Thompson’s new job carries enormous responsibility and will require unwavering commitment in the service of Arizona State University,” Olsen said. “Fortunately, he is more than up to the challenge.”

To read a Q&A with Thompson click here.