High-Ranking Rutgers Official Quietly Fired, According to Sources

UPDATE (7:18PM): Rutgers University released the following statement from Senior VP Bruce Fehn: "In addition to serving as executive director of police services, Kenneth B. Cop will now oversee emergency management and emergency services operations for the university. He is replacing James E. Kohl in this role…. All other functions within Administration and Public Safety will report directly to me."

"I would like to thank Jay for his nearly 15 years of service to Rutgers and wish him the best of luck in all of his future endeavors."

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–A longtime Rutgers University administrator in charge of some of the school's most important departments has been fired, according to multiple sources.

James "Jay" Kohl, a criminal justice professor and former lieutenant on the Detroit police force credited with helping to start their SWAT team, has served as the university's Vice President for Administration and Public Safety at Rutgers since 1999.

Kohl earned a $200,592 annual salary, and was one of 70 officials on the university's "Administrative Council."

Rutgers officials did not respond to emailed requests for information about the circumstances of Kohl's departure.  A message sent to one of his university email addresses bounced back.

Sources tell New Brunswick Today that Kohl was recently forced out of the job, fired by Rutgers Senior Vice President for Administration Bruce Fehn.

One source said there was "no love lost" between Kohl and the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD), though that was just one of the units he supervised. 

According to Rutgers website, Kohl oversaw police, fire, EMS, environmental health, code enforcement, transportation services, and "multiple business operations" on the school's campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden.

Sources say RUPD Chief Kenneth Cop is now in charge of police, fire, emergency management, and security, as the university searches for a replacement for Kohl.

According to the Rutgers website, "Kohl was a United States Marine and after a tour in Vietnam he joined the Detroit Police Department where he spent the next 20 years working his way up the ranks… [to become] the team leader of the SWAT team and later served as a legal advisor for the City."

Kohl retired from the Detroit PD in 1990 and became the public safety director at Michigan University, before leaving that job over a controversy regarding the proposed merger of the school's police and fire departments.

He also served as a public safety official in Meridian, Michigan and Cedar Falls, Iowa, where his tenure once again proved to be controversial.  After a tumultuous two-year run in Cedar Falls, he took the Rutgers job in 1999.

Kohl has both a master's degree as well as a law degree, and remains a member of the bar, according to the Rutgers Criminal Justice program website.

"In addition to his policing experience, Kohl is also trained as a firefighter and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and the National Fire Academy," reads the website, which still lists Kohl as a part-time lecturer and the VP of Administration & Public Safety.

Students of Kohl's posting on a website that lets users rate university professors had widely varied opinions of Kohl, with some saying he was very smart and helpful, and others saying he spent too much time telling stories about Detroit and not enough time preparing students for exams that were unrelated to his lectures.

Editor at New Brunswick Today | 732-993-9697 | editor@newbrunswicktoday.com

Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.