Chief Marie Ferguson. Photo courtesy of sewanee.edu.
By Klarke Stricklen
On June 15, Chief Marie Ferguson stepped down from the Sewanee Police department and venture into a new position with Sewanee Realty according to an email from Vice-Chancellor John McCardell. For over 20 years, Ferguson has served the Sewanee Police department in various capacities and strived to break the gap between the department and students on the Domain.
Ferguson has lived on the Mountain her entire life and began working at the department in 1999. As a child, Ferguson could have never imagined herself becoming a police officer, but as time went on, her life led her in that direction.
During her time as police chief, Ferguson found that the student body hardly ever engaged with the police department before times of distress. She eventually found that the occasional drop in to McClurg or Stirling’s opened up a world of possibilities and the start of a healthy relationship with students.
In an interview with The Purple, Ferguson spoke briefly on her new position as well as the possibility for new community driven events hosted by the police department to bridge the gap between the department and the student body.
According to Ferguson, the police department hopes to implement events such as “coffee with a cop” or “cookies with cops” to foster healthy relationships with students on a weekly basis. These events would allow students to engage with the department in a way that creates a better level of communication between the two. Acting Chief of Police Troy Huffines, a native of Nashville, TN, who served as Ferguson’s Assistant Chief, will take the lead on these events.
“Anything we can do to be more open and approachable will only enhance our community interactions,” said Huffines in regard to the role the department plays in advocating for the Sewanee community.
Both officials spoke briefly on the launching of the new student safety advisory committee, which will allow students to voice concerns of their peers and be point persons during discussions of possible solutions. The committee will focus on the safety and wellbeing of the campus and incorporate students and department staff in discussions.
According to Huffines, information about the committee will be available for students this upcoming fall. The police department will also be participating in mandatory dormitory meetings as well as partnering with Dean of Students office to create more programming for students.
Huffines hopes that these new developments will allow students the “opportunity to sit down and get to know officers and engage with them in a casual setting.”
As for Ferguson, students can expect to see her living out another passion through her work with Sewanee Realty.
“I’m thankful for every friendship that was made, every fond memory I leave with, and especially all the support I have received over the years; it has been an honor to serve in Sewanee,” said Ferguson. “I’m forever grateful.”