Western hires new assistant police chief

Western Washington University has hired Donnell Tanksley as its new assistant director of Public Safety/assistant chief of Police.

Darin Rasmussen, director of Public Safety and chief of Police at Western, said he was pleased to hire someone with Tanksley’s extensive experience and qualifications.

“Donnell Tanksley is an excellent law enforcement professional, and it is exciting to have someone of Donnell’s caliber join the Department of Public Safety’s leadership team. He brings a wealth of personal and professional experiences that will continue to broaden our rapport with students, faculty and staff, and further the mission of the department to provide a safe, secure, and accessible environment for the entire Western community,” Rasmussen said.

Tanksley, who was hired following a national search, starts at Western on Sept. 15, 2014. He succeeds Rasmussen, who was named director of Public Safety/chief of Police at Western in April.

“I am honored to be part of such a professional group in the Department of Public Safety. I’m excited about helping the department meet their goals, provide a secure campus and to be the best public safety department in the state of Washington. In the coming days, I look forward to meeting with Western faculty, staff, students and campus organizations. This is a great opportunity and I am humbled to be part of the Western family and the Bellingham community,” Tanksley said.

Tanksley has a master’s degree in Management from Fontebonne University and next year will obtain a second master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Missouri. He served with the Saint Louis, Missouri, Police Department for over 20 years, most recently as a lieutenant in Patrol Operations. His experience includes serving as commander of Special Operations, Hostage Response Team Scene commander, sergeant of the Housing Authority Unit, and an instructor for the local police academy.

Tanksley is a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and U. S. Air Force, retiring from the reserves as a First Sergeant. Among his accomplishments were serving as Cultural Diversity instructor, Education and Training manager, and a Security Forces supervisor.

Rasmussen thanked the search committee, which was chaired by Brian Sullivan, assistant vice president for Business and Financial Affairs at Western, and which also included an Associated Students board member, faculty and staff.

The assistant director of Public Safety/assistant chief of Police reports to the director of Public Safety/chief of Police and assists in managing the department’s operations, including University Police, Emergency Communications Center, Parking Services, the Lockshop, and Sustainable Transportation.