UPDATED 4.3.2012 by Julie Montanaro
FAMU's Police Chief has announced his retirement and he's already out of the office.
Both Calvin Ross and the administration deny that he was forced out.
Ross said he actually postponed his retirement after the hazing death of Robert Champion.
"I feel very good," Ross said as he talked with reporters.
FAMU Police Chief Calvin Ross says he planned to retire in January after 11 years on the job. But the death of drum major Robert Champion changed that.
"I had to beg off that and committed to stay around until we at least got through the bulk of this crisis," Ross said. "In addition to that, there was a list of hazing investigations that we had been conducting here with the Florida A&M University department. We had gone through that list and most all of those had been dealt with," he said.
The Champion investigation was turned over to the state attorney in Orange County last week.
The announcement comes just one week after Ross defended his department's handling of a hazing complaint against two music professors.
Both Ross and the university deny that he was pressured to retire.
"Was Chief Ross asked to retire at this time?"
"No he wasn't," Vice President of Student Affairs William Hudson said.
"No, in fact I almost felt apologetic to actually leave at this point in time," Ross said, "but there really is no good time to retire when you are dealing with the issues we've been dealing with here."
Students we spoke to aren't convinced.
"I think he felt a little pressure to step down," FAMU student Benjamin Fullington said. "The community around has been very vigilant, you know, to get stuff done."
"I guess he's just trying to take the easy way out and not have to deal with it," FAMU freshman Monique Williams said.
"I think the timing right now with him resigning is kind of rough with everything we're going through as a university," said FAMU student Patrick McKeithen. "It just looks bad for us to have yet another resignation in the news."
Ross's retirement is effective May first. He's on leave until then.
Assistant Chief Earst has been named interim chief until the university hires a permanent replacement.
Chief Ross makes just over $98,000 a year.
The police chief reports to Vice President Hudson. Hudson could not say how tough it will be to find a replacement given the recent turmoil at the university.
"We can't say how difficult it will be. What we'll do is we're going to try to find the best person for the position to move us forward," Hudson said.
The chief and FAMU's police department have worked several hazing cases in recent months, in addition to helping with the Champion investigation. Two of those cases resulted in the arrests of Marching 100 members for hazing.
The chief points out that in his 11 year tenure he has upgraded campus security by installing cameras, sirens and text alerts, merged parking enforcement with the police department and started efforts to gain accreditation for FAMU PD.
Ross was chief of the Miami Dade Police Department and the first secretary of Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice before coming to FAMU in 2001.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — April 3, 2012 - 1:30pm - by Julie Montanaro
Chief Calvin Ross says he intended to retire in January of this year, but stayed until the completion of the Robert Champion hazing death investigation. The Orange County Sheriff's Office turned that investigation over to the state attorney late last month. Ross and Vice President of Student Affairs William Hudson both deny that he was forced out. The chief calls speculation like that "the nature of the beast," but says it's simply not true. Ross says he intends to help his son in a new business venture. Ross has been FAMU's chief of police for 11 years. Before that he served as secretary of Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice and the police chief of Miami-Dade County.
Chief Ross' letter to FAMU President Ammons is attached in PDF format above.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — April 3, 2012 - Noon
Florida A&M University (FAMU) Chief of Police Calvin Ross announced Monday, April 2, 2012, that he plans to retire effective May 1, 2012 after 40 years in law enforcement — 11 of those years were spent at FAMU.
“It has been a pleasure serving here over the past 11 years, “ said Ross. “Please know that over the past 11 years we have seen many positive developments within the Department of Public Safety and the overall impact of safety on the university campus.”
Ross has asked to be placed on leave until his retirement on May 1, 2012. John Earst, assistant chief of police, has been appointed as Acting Chief until a permanent chief is selected.
Ross said he had planned initially to retire in January 2012 to assist his family with a new business venture. He said he remained as a result of the tragic death of Robert Champion.
“This caused me to offset my plans for leaving until such time that the investigation into this case reached a conclusion,” said Ross. “ As of this date, I believe we have reached that conclusion.”
Recently, Orange County Sheriff’s Office turned the case over to the State Attorney’s Office.
As Chief of Police at FAMU, Ross established a complete law enforcement operation at the College of Law in Orlando. He also implemented the e-2 campus alert system, an on-line registration process for students and staff to acquire decals, implemented a Central Alarm Monitoring System and secured federal and state grant dollars in order to provide equipment.
“Chief Ross has made significant contributions to students, faculty and staff safety during his administration, “ said William E. Hudson Jr. “We wish him well during his retirement.”
April 3, 2012 - 11:30am
Eyewitness News has learned that the FAMU Police Chief submitted a letter of retirement. FAMUPD Chief Calvin Ross submitted the letter to university officials yesterday. While the retirement is set for May 1, 2012, Chief Ross is on leave until that date.
Eyewitness News has a reporter working on the story. Stay with WCTV for details.