SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has confirmed that Rodney Chatman, its new police chief, has been placed on administrative leave.

University spokesman Chris Nelson said Chatman was placed on leave “sometime” this week, and that Deputy Chief Jason Hinojosa is handling the day-to-day operations of the police department.

But Nelson declined to comment on why the chief was placed on leave or whether it is related to police certification issues.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office also confirmed Friday it is one of multiple agencies involved in an investigation into the police chief, but declined to release any other details, noting that it “cannot comment on open investigations.”

But late Friday, University of Utah Chief Safety Officer Marlon Lynch released a statement giving more details about Chatman’s leave.

Lynch said Chatman, who came to Utah after working in Ohio as the University of Dayton police chief in February of this year, was given a year to obtain Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training certification — something all law enforcement officers must have “before representing themselves as a police officer.”

“I want to clarify that over the past year despite not yet being Utah POST certified, Rodney had full authority to oversee University of Utah police as a university department head, including making personnel, strategy and budget decisions,” Lynch said. “This is a common practice for veteran law enforcement leaders coming from outside the state who need to seek certification.”

Lynch then said he was “made aware of an investigation” by the attorney general’s office into “allegations that Rodney may have violated certain guidelines that are also criminal offenses, which could also adversely impact his POST certification. This is a serious matter, and I have expressed the university’s intent to fully cooperate in the AG’s investigation.”

Attorney Kay McConkie, who represents Chatman, told the Salt Lake Tribune that Chatman was recently asked to resign or be fired from his position because of concerns the university is now facing over a legal complaint. The issue involves the release of a report that said former officer Miguel Deras shared explicit photos of University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey with other officers before McCluskey was murdered on campus, she said.

Salt Lake attorney Jeremy Jones, who represents Deras, said he does not know for certain why Chatman is on leave. However, he believes it has to do with allegations levied against Chatman that he was not a certified law enforcer in Utah when he took office but still performed duties that only certified law enforcers are allowed to do.

Jones said his office is involved in making those allegations based on reports from several people who contacted him, including people who used to work for the university’s police department.

He said he believes the university was aware of these allegations but did not take action.

“My office suspects that the university has since recognized that this problem would be made public and has placed Mr. Chatman on leave in an attempt to save face,” Jones said in a prepared statement.

Jones said Deras, his client, is not one of the complainants.

An investigation ordered by Chatman resulted in the conclusion that Deras inappropriately shared explicit pictures of McCluskey with other officers. The investigation resulted in Deras being fired from his job at the Logan Police Department.

All police officers in the state must be certified by Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training. Even veteran officers from out of state who are hired to work in Utah for the first time must pass the agency’s written and physical tests. The tests are standard for all officers and are not graded on an age curve.

There have been examples in the past of people hired from out of state to become police chiefs in Utah. In 2013, West Valley City hired Lee Russo to be its new police chief. But it took him some time before he could receive his Utah certification. Until then, he was allowed to head the department in a manager-like capacity, but he was not allowed to perform police duties.

Jones said people in that position need to apply for a waiver to be allowed to act as an administrator over a police department while their Peace Officer Standards and Training certification is being worked on.

“That is not what happened here,” Jones said of the situation at the University of Utah. “Mr. Chatman did not bother to apply at all while he undertook public duties of chief of police.”

According to Jones, Chatman acted as more than just an administrator. He contends even though Chatman was not a certified Utah law enforcer, he commissioned the investigation into Deras and then violated public records laws by releasing disciplinary reports before the investigation was completed.

Furthermore, Jones claims Chatman was visibly seen walking around the university campus in a police uniform with a badge and gun, something only certified law enforcers are allowed to do.

Yet Lt. Nick Street with the Department of Public Safety said Friday that Chatman is certified with Peace Officer Standards and Training. The department, however, is not releasing when Chatman received that certification, noting that it may be considered evidence for an investigation. Street said his agency is currently not involved in any investigation regarding Chatman.

Jones said the allegations his office has received have been referred to the “proper authorities.” Some of those claims include allegations of impersonating a police officer and Government Records Access and Management Act violations, which are criminal offenses.

As for the university issuing essentially a “no comment” response regarding the Chatman certification allegations before Lynch responded late Friday, Jones calls that a “cynical double standard.”

“I’m a little bit surprised to see the U. say no comment and claim it’s a personnel matter. That didn't matter to them when they were going after Miguel Deras and a number of other officers. In fact, they did the exact opposite. When line officers were involved, they were very public.”

Chatman was hired at the beginning of the year to replace embattled former Chief Dale Brophy.

Contributing: Amy Donaldson