Dept. of Public Safety Chief Carey Drayton applied for a position as University of Tennessee’s police chief earlier this year but was not hired, according to documents released by UT.
On an evaluation page of the four finalists for the position, Drayton was the only candidate the search committee circled as “unacceptable,” according to the UT documents.
Drayton said this week he was satisfied UT chose someone else for the position.
“It was a good decision for me ’cause I want to be here at USC,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Drayton, who has worked as DPS chief for six years, applied for the UT position Feb. 17 and was one of four finalists, according to the UT documents. Drayton said he was asked by officials at UT to apply for the position. UT received more than 60 applicants, according to the UT documents.
The UT search committee, in a bulleted list, cited as Drayton’s weaknesses: “condescending arrogance (rubbed some the wrong way),” “lack of reliability,” “appears to work well with higher-ups but not lower-levels,” “controversy,” “too big picture (lack of respect for detail)” and “lack of stability,” according to the UT documents.
“That’s people’s opinions, right, and I don’t have a comment on their opinions,” Drayton said.
Though the university could not comment on private personnel issues, Charlie Lane, associate vice president for career and protective services, said Drayton has worked effectively during his time at USC.
“USC cannot discuss private employment matters publicly, but I will say that Chief Drayton has worked extremely hard and served USC well,” Lane wrote in an email.
For Drayton’s strengths, the UT search committee, in a bulleted list, cited: “higher education experience,” “worked large events,” “experience with accreditation,” “knows the business” and “could be likable,” according to the UT documents.
Though USC knew that the UT committee did not select Drayton, university officials were unaware of his evaluation, according to Lane.
“We are only aware that the committee chose not to move forward with Chief Drayton as a candidate,” Lane wrote in an email.
The UT documents, which include references, letters and summaries of interviews, were obtained by the Knoxville News Sentinel under an open records request, and the paper agreed to share the documents with the Daily Trojan.
In his application letter, which is included in the UT documents, Drayton wrote: “This position offers the ideal setting for this stage in my career because of the name and reputation of the University of Tennessee, and it’s location in the country.”
The committee met for a final time May 14, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. The university announced May 30 that it had chosen the police chief at the University of Wyoming as its new head of police.
Drayton was hired at USC as assistant chief of DPS in November 2005 and was promoted to chief and executive director of DPS in January 2006, according to the DPS website.
USC instituted a pre-employment screening policy in 2000 that includes background and reference checks, according to Lane. Drayton received the same screening as all other university hires, Lane said.
“His employment record, references, and performance on the job were all taken into consideration when the decisions were made to hire and subsequently promote him,” Lane wrote in an email.
Before coming to USC, Drayton spent 10 years as Florida State University’s police chief. Drayton resigned from FSU three months before coming to USC, citing a need to help his mother who had cancer, according to documents released by FSU to the Daily Trojan.
Though Drayton formally resigned, FSU’s senior vice president of finance and administration, John Carnaghi, was documented as saying in one reference to the UT search committee that he asked Drayton to leave the university. The UT documents show that Carnaghi told the UT search committee that he made that decision after he learned of a paternity suit that was filed against Drayton by another FSU employee.
Drayton and the child’s mother reached a settlement under which Drayton accepted paternity and agreed to pay child support, according to case documents from the Leon County Clerk’s Office in Tallahassee. Carnaghi said Drayton never disclosed the suit to him, according to the UT documents.
The UT interviewer asked Carnaghi a series of questions. The UT documents provide the following account of Carnaghi’s final comments:
“When [Carnaghi] checked into [the paternity suit] and confronted the chief, [Drayton] admitted that it was true and that he and his wife worked it out and that he decided not to tell anyone about it. [Carnaghi] had a major concern about why [Drayton] did not tell him, said that he thought that they had a wonderful relationship. He told the chief that he would have to leave because he would no longer be effective at addressing issues once this was discovered. He also said this tarnished [Drayton’s] decision making in his view. He ended by saying that he was an excellent chief that did a lot of good for the university … but he made a decision that no one could understand that cost him his position.”
Carnaghi was out of town and did not respond to an email request for comment.
When asked about the circumstances of leaving FSU, Drayton referred to his formal letter of resignation, which cited his mother’s illness as his reason for leaving.
Lane said USC was not aware of all the circumstances around Drayton’s departure, but the university was aware of the paternity suit at the time of the hire.
“This has had no bearing on his performance on the job,” Lane said.
John Martin, FSU’s assistant vice president for administration from 1993 to 1998, told the UT search committee that he would hire Drayton again, according to his reference in the UT documents. “If you asked if I would ever hire him again, I would say yes,” Martin was documented as saying in his reference. “But, I would have to ask and find out what in the world he was thinking on the personal decision issue.”
Dan Murphy, chairman of the UT search committee, did not respond to an interview request from the Daily Trojan.
In 2003, Drayton was the subject of an FSU investigation into six allegations.
According to a report from FSU’s chief audit officer, four of the allegations were unsubstantiated and two were partially substantiated. The report partially substantiated an allegation that background checks were improperly approved for officers that Drayton wanted to hire. Drayton did not sign off on the background checks himself. In addition, the report said “inappropriate pictures and a movie” were found on computers used by Drayton, but investigators could not determine who had placed them there.
“I don’t remember those investigations, quite honestly,” Drayton said Tuesday. “That was in 2003.”
After the investigation, Paul Strouts, an associate vice president at FSU, wrote a memo to Drayton, according to the FSU documents.
“As we discussed, the great majority of these allegations were without merit,” Strouts wrote in the memo on FSU stationery. “They do, however, serve as a clear reminder that someone in your position necessarily needs to be held to a very high standard. I know that you understand this and will continue to conduct yourself accordingly.”
Chelsea Stone and Alexis Driggs contributed to this report.