UM president: Decision to reassign cop who investigated Dr. Robert Anderson will be reviewed

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said last week that officials would review the decision to reassign the police detective who investigated a former university doctor accused of widespread sexual misconduct.

The Detroit News reported last week that UM police department Detective Mark West would be reassigned from his investigative duties to road patrol in September. 

West was the chief investigator of Dr. Robert Anderson, the now-deceased UM sports doctor accused of sexually assaulting hundreds of male student-athletes, gay men and some women during his tenure from 1966-2003.

West’s work helped lead to about 850 accusers coming forward to say Anderson molested them and also unearthed evidence that several UM leaders were allegedly aware of the doctor’s alleged behavior but failed to stop him. 

University of Michigan Det. Mark West

The News asked Schlissel about West's reassignment during an interview last week hours before the university unveiled plans to make broad changes to how the college addresses sexual misconduct, including a policy banning retaliation. 

Asked about West's reassignment, Schlissel said the decision would be examined. 

"We have to look at that more carefully," Schlissel said. 

Schlissel echoed what UM police and other officials said last week, saying the police department rotates staff. 

"We have a routine practice to develop a deep bench and cross-train people by rotating folks for three or four years at a time through different aspects of our public safety apparatus," Schlissel said.

Schlissel said West, who has been a detective for six years, was in a three-year rotation and stayed on due to the COVID-19 pandemic and "all the things that were going on."

"Like everybody else, he rotates back to his regular position," Schlissel said. "But we will find out more about this and we will certainly make sure things were done properly and appropriately."

West told The News in a brief interview last week that while he knew it was a rotating position when he took the job generally detectives haven't been rotated. At least two detectives in the department have held the rank longer than him, he noted, and he is aware of just one detective who went back to road patrol. The others retired or were promoted, he said. 

UM Deputy Chief Melissa Overton said two other police officers have been in the detective bureau longer than West since they are computer forensic detectives.

"We typically don't rotate that position due to cost of ongoing training," Overton said.

West said at the time he viewed the change as a demotion since he will lose 3% of his $79,000 salary, or about $2,370. 

West, who is 51 and has 27 years with the department, declined to comment on Friday.

Robert Julian Stone, the first man to publicly accuse Anderson, praised West's work during the investigation, calling him "a dedicated and compassionate law enforcement professional.

"It’s retaliatory," said Stone. "He exposed things (the university) didn’t want exposed and now he is paying a price."