Questions still surround resignation of ETSU’s first female police chief


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)-Questions still surround the sudden resignation of East Tennessee State University’s first female police chief.

Nicole Collins announced her departure on August 19, just over a year after assuming the position.

“I understand that the institution is no longer interested in pursuing national and international accreditation and a cultural imbalance within the department,” said Collins in her resignation letter.

Collins declined News Channel 11’s request to elaborate on what she meant by “cultural imbalance.”

However, her personnel file shed light on potential issues surrounding the department’s accreditation.

Her resume revealed Collins is an assessor on the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

The document detailed her role in the implementation and maintenance of CALEA standards at Vanderbilt University and UT Knoxville, two of only three colleges in the state that have obtained the internationally recognized accreditation.

Five Northeast Tennessee police departments and sheriff’s offices have also earned the CALEA accreditation.

“What it proves is not only have they striven to meet international standards in law enforcement but they’ve had an outside review from an independent body to ensure that they’re meeting those standards,” said CALEA’s Regional Program Manager Vince Dauro.

Dauro confirmed ETSU has not contacted him about achieving the accreditation.

“You wouldn’t send someone to a hospital that’s not accredited by their independent body. So why would you want your law enforcement, that has the power to take a life, to be any different,” said Dauro.

ETSU Spokesman Joe Smith said universities are not required by state law to hold accreditation.

ETSU’s Police Department is accredited by the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, according to Executive Director Maggi M Duncan.

Duncan said CALEA’s standards are more extensive and their accreditation process costs more money.

She said it’s not uncommon for law enforcement agencies in Tennessee to only be accredited by the state.

In a statement, she elaborated on the purpose of accreditation:

The Tennessee Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (TLEA) is a voluntary program that any law enforcement agency in Tennessee may petition to participate in.  Accreditation is a management tool establishing expectations of performance and procedures for an agency to follow. 

Accreditation promotes accountability of agencies to itself, government leaders, the community, and the accrediting body through policy development and management. Agencies  involved in the accreditation program must provide proofs of policies and documentation that the standards are being followed. Accreditation also provides departments the opportunity to be more transparent and accountable to the citizens they serve.

All departments in the accreditation program must maintain annual updates as well as checks and balances to retain their accreditation.  This is done through an extensive file review and on-site inspection of the agency.  The agency remains on a continual progressive trajectory of best practices to provide professional police services in their communities while maintaining their standards and accreditation.

Maggi M. Duncan
Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police

Collin’s personnel file said her monthly salary at ETSU is just over 84 hundred dollars.

Smith said she will maintain her title as chief of police and benefits for now because she’s still working with the department on “special projects.”

Smith declined to answer any more questions about Collins resignation because “they don’t comment on personnel matters.”

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