ETSU Public Safety staff report details ‘bullying, abuse of power’ months before chief resignation


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Through an open records request – News Channel 11 is learning more about turmoil within the East Tennessee State University Public Safety Department months before the chief’s resignation announcement.

Last month – Nicole Collins announced she was resigning after just over a year with the university.

Collins made history as the first woman to lead the department.

In her resignation letter – she cited a “cultural imbalance” within the department and shared her appreciation for the opportunity.

A March 2019 memo shows five members of the Department of Public Safety reached out to ETSU’s Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Ross. They each expressed “concerns relative to bullying and abuse of power by the Chief of Police.”

The memo went on to note,”there have been numerous recent or planned resignations within the department.”

The documents show in a meeting with HR and staff – themes emerged – it said Collins’ “berates other” and she has a “my way or the highway” mentality.

The second page of the memo said staff expressed they don’t want to come to work, their health is being adversely affected by stress, and most were looking for other jobs.

Another March memo between university officials shares concern about the public safety department’s financial position – saying there’s a lack of fiscal management and budgetary oversight within the department with defecits to make up.

Collins also wrote to ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland and others – five days before her resignation letter – expressing her gratitude and her accomplishments while in office.

She went on to say comments on thinks like bullying and creating a toxic environment have no valid basis.

News Channel 11 reached out to Chief Collins on Thursday for comment. We’ve not yet heard back.

The university tells us she’s still working with the department on special projects.

Her resignation is effective November 30.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss