May 25, 2019  

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Keyes Named University of Southern Mississippi Police Chief of Operations

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Rusty Keyes will serve as The University of Southern Mississippi's next Chief of Police.
USM Assistant Chief of Police Rusty Keyes addresses the media and other guests during a news conference to announce his hiring as Police Chief of Operations on Tuesday, April 24. (Photo by Kelly Dunn)

Rusty Keyes, Assistant Chief of Operations for The University of Southern Mississippi (USM)’s Police Department (UPD), has been appointed incoming chief, effective July 1. Keyes will succeed current Chief Bob Hopkins, who is set to retire June 30 after nearly two decades of outstanding service in the role.

“The University of Southern Mississippi is committed to providing a safe environment that fosters our students’ growth and development as socially responsible citizens,” said University President Rodney D. Bennett. “I have witnessed Assistant Chief Keyes’ genuine care and concern for the health and safety of our student body, and I am confident his commitment to their success, coupled with his professionalism and strong record of experience building partnerships on campus, in the community, and with multiple stakeholders groups, positions him well to lead our University Police Department into its next chapter.”

Keyes has been a law enforcement officer for nearly 30 years, first serving the Hattiesburg Police Department as a patrolman, narcotics officer, street crimes officer, detective, and as a detectives and patrol supervisor. He is a USM alumnus who joined UPD in 2006, first serving as detective lieutenant and then as detective captain, prior to assuming his current role as assistant chief in 2017.

“Assistant Chief Keyes’ expertise — in all facets of law enforcement — and his experience in community engagement will be critical as we continue our efforts to maintain a safe University community for our students, faculty, staff and guests on all of our campuses,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dee Dee Anderson. “His experience has been a tremendous asset to the University of Southern Mississippi Police Department and the City of Hattiesburg. I look forward to his continued leadership in his new role.”

USM is home to one of the most respected and professional police departments at any institution in the country. UPD was the first police department at a Mississippi university to earn full national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in 2009, and it is currently one of only two Mississippi university police departments accredited on both the national and state levels.

“Our mission as part of the Division of Student Affairs is to work every day to foster a connected and healthy learning environment,” Keyes said. “We want students to come to Southern Miss, get their education and graduate feeling safe and secure. We want faculty and staff to come to work every day with a feeling of safety. It is an honor to be named chief of police, and under my command UPD will always put the community first.”

Keyes is a Petal, Miss., native and a member of several national and state law enforcement associations. He is a member of the Southern Miss Alumni Association and has served on the board of directors for the Southern Miss M-Club. He is married to Maria Byrd Keyes. They have two daughters, Maisen, a sophomore at Jones College, and Rhian, a senior at South Jones High School.