By BRIAN BIGELOW | Staff Writer
“I’m just here to maintain the department and make sure everything goes smoothly,” said Jason Morton, the new temporary director of Public Safety. “Right now I’m acting as police chief.”

Morton will function in his new position as temporary director of Public Safety at APSU from Nov. 14. until director of Public Safety Lantz Biles returns from suspension on Dec. 15. for violating APSU sexual harassment policy.

“Lantz Biles was placed on temporary suspension for violation of university policy and, because it is a personnel issue, the university has no further comment on the matter,” said Bill Persinger, executive director in the APSU Office of Public Relations and Marketing. “It is expected that Mr. Biles will return to work on Dec. 15, 2010, after his suspension ends.”

Morton’s previous position was as assistant director of Public Safety at Middle Tennessee State University, a position he held since May 2009 and which he intends to return to after Biles resumes his duties at APSU.

Morton began his career at MTSU in August of 1996 as a patrol officer and has worked his way up through the rank of patrol sergeant and, later, lieutenant before achieving his current rank. Morton also worked in training and investigations at MTSU.

In his most recent position at MTSU, Morton was responsible for “the scheduling of patrol officers to ensure adequate patrol coverage,” and supervised the three patrol lieutenants which allowed him to “oversee the overall functional operation of each element [and] division of the department.”

“I also assist in the development of policy and procedure for MTSU Public Safety,” Morton said.

“In my position at MTSU, I have the luxury of having supervisors above me that get to make the final decisions concerning problems that may arise. At APSU, that task falls to me,” Morton said.

“Primarily, I am responsible for making sure that the department is providing the services that the APSU community expects,” Morton said. “I am also responsible to the members of APSU Public Safety to make sure that they have the proper information, equipment, and tools so that they can provide those services to the community.”

Morton feels his temporary position at APSU will be a learning experience that will provide him with knowledge and experience that he can apply to his permanent position at MTSU.

“Both MTSU and APSU Public Safety departments have similar goals, the safety and security of their respective universities,” Morton said. “Each department uses slightly different methods to accomplish these goals.”

“It’s a good opportunity for me. It’s an exchange of ideas,” Morton said. “It’s an opportunity to see how APSU handles their day to day operations. I’m looking at how this place operates.”

“Mr. Morton is a temporary hire,” Persinger said. “Temporary personnel actions do not require the same processes as a permanent personnel action and direct reports to the president are delegated the authority to make the decision for temporary hires.”

Mitch Robinson, vice president of Finance and Administration, hired Morton. Robinson contacted other Tennessee universities in his search for a temporary director of Public Safety and Morton came highly recommended from multiple sources.

“I only considered Mr. Morton,“ Robinson said. “I made that decision based on my judgment of what was best for the institution and the department of Public Safety.” TAS