Tom Saccenti, one of the finalists in the running for the open University of Central Arkansas Chief of Police position, has officially removed his name from consideration.
UCA Chief of Staff Kelley Erstine informed the campus community Friday through email after receiving an email from Saccenti on Thursday. Saccenti originally sent the email to Erstine Wednesday night.
“Kelley, I want to thank you for the opportunity to interview at UCA today,” Saccenti wrote. “We had an amazing time visiting the town and meeting the great people of Conway. Sonya and I had a good opportunity to talk on our drive tonight and I must say that I need to remove myself from the search.”
Saccenti continues by saying that there isn’t a “single bad thing” he could say about the institution or the UCAPD.
“It seems to be an amazing group of individuals,” he wrote. “With that said I am a true change agent. I need the challenge of an agency that needs help. This is not your agency.”
Saccenti said that UCA is well-funded, well-trained and has an excellent structure.
“If I came in now, I fear that I would do more harm than good in implementing changes that may not be needed,” he said.
While Saccenti said he wanted to be in Conway, he also said he knows that he will become frustrated as his leadership style “does very well in an environment needing massive changes” and that wouldn’t be good for UCA.
He decided to write the email immediately, he said, so Erstine and the others on the committee wouldn’t think he was “trying to run one school up over the other or anything like that.”
“I am a man of integrity and the moment I realized that this wouldn’t be a good fit for me I wanted to let you know,” Saccenti wrote. “You truly have something special there in Conway, it is killing me to walk away from it, but I also know my personality and know who I am and I think I would find that it wouldn’t take long for me to find myself [bored] and looking to move and that would not help either of us.”
He thanked Erstine for his kindness and time.
“This message is to let you know that Mr. Saccenti informed the search committee yesterday of his desire to remove his name from further consideration,” Erstine’s email to staff reads.
The email continues that the search committee recommended to UCA President Houston Davis the university re-advertise the position and Deputy Chief John Merguie, who is currently acting as interim chief, continue in that position.
Erstine said a formal search process will “most likely be initiated in early 2018.”
Saccenti traveled to Conway on Wednesday and met with faculty, staff, the Student Government Association, city and county officials, the student panel, had lunch with members of the UCA Police Department, met with President Davis and the search committee and also attended a campus forum, which included a question and answer portion.
Erstine thanked everyone who showed an interest in the search in the email and said he was “especially appreciative” of those who attended the public forum.
“Your participation in this particular search has confirmed the importance of finding the right person for this position,” he wrote.
He also acknowledged and thanked the UCAPD for their “continued outstanding service” to the UCA community.
Saccenti, who is the acting chief at Furman University Police Department in Greenville, South Carolina, was one of two finalists up for the position at UCA, until the other candidate, former Kennesaw State Chief of Police Roger Stearns, also withdrew himself from consideration upon resignation from KSU July 31.
KSU spokesman Tammy Demel previously told the LCD via email that the university was conducting an internal review “surrounding leadership concerns.”