New Roane State police chief is familiar face on campus

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

If Danny Wright hadn’t been cutting a class and playing cards in Roane State’s student lounge, his life would have been very different.

“Roane State is the reason I’m in law enforcement,” said Wright, the community college’s new director of public safety and police chief.

Highway patrol officers on a recruiting mission had entered the lounge and handed out information about careers in law enforcement. As a student, that intrigued him, Wright said.

He enrolled in Roane State’s first police science class in the spring of 1974. “The rest, as they say, is history,” he said.

During his lifelong career in law enforcement, Wright’s credentials include:

  • Rockwood Police Chief
  • Undercover narcotics officer as a special agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
  • Director of the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division
  • State Trooper
  • Oak Ridge Police Department patrol officer
  • Adjunct Roane State professor, a post he still holds

He‘s currently in the middle of his fifth four-year term on the Roane County Board of Education, and served as its chairman in 1994.

Wright, 67, and a Harriman resident, also continues to referee high school and middle school basketball games throughout the region.

Wright’s association with Roane State goes back years. He recalls working in the maintenance department as a teenager and helping move Cuyler Dunbar’s enormous desk into his third-floor office. That office was inside the building that would later be named for Dunbar as Roane State’s first president.

Wright’s education includes a Roane State associate degree, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and a master’s degree from the University of North Georgia.

During his career, Wright has investigated cases ranging from homicide to armed robbery, and about one-fourth of his work involved illegal drug cases.

He worked as a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation undercover narcotics agent for five years. One drug investigation spanned eight months and resulted in the seizure of more than 120 pounds of cocaine and $3.5 million in cash.

Wright earlier served as interim Roane State police chief for nearly a year at the request of Marsha Mathews, vice president of business and finance.

He was hired full-time last December. He is responsible for overseeing law enforcement at all of Roane State’s nine campuses. The department has 11 certified police officers and 30 part-time security officers.

Wright said he’s already been busy working to upgrade the department’s equipment, promoting its officers and seeking improved communication systems.

Three officers have been certified as instructors in active shooter training and will be teaching those principles to other officers, he said.

“Roane State is a great place to get an education, and it’s a great place to work,” he said. 

Wright’s daughter, Raganne Treadway, is taking classes at Roane State to become certified as a registered nurse, he said.

Information about Roane State’s Department of Public Safety can be found online at roanestate.edu/police.

About Bob Fowler

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