Criminal justice alums keep Lexington in good hands

John Lollis

John lollis ’03

John Lollis ’03 retired as chief of the Lexington Police Department in November after nearly 37 years with the department. Replacing him at the post? Tad Kepley ’05, a 27-year veteran of the department.

Lollis was 21 years old when he joined the police force in 1976. His desire to be an officer came from working at the Lexington YMCA, where he would talk to police officers about their careers. In his early years, Lollis often would stay after his shifts to ride along with veteran officers in order to learn anything he could. “I was lucky,” he said. “I gravitated toward the officers who were dedicated and really interested in doing a good job. They taught me how to treat the public.”

Beginning in 1979, Lollis spent three years as part of a small city-county narcotics unit. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1987 and captain in 1996.

Lexington city officials praised Lollis for helping reduce the crime rate by 40 percent since he took over as chief in late 2005. Lollis tackled the crime rate by assigning each and every case to an officer to investigate. In turn, Lexington’s serious crimes dropped from 1,384 in 2005 to 816 in 2011. Lollis also established a Special Operations Bureau in 2007 to work high crime areas and assist the vice/narcotics unit and detectives. He credits the move to cutting the city’s crime rate by nearly half during his tenure.

Tad Kepley

Tad Kepley ’05 Photos by Donnie Roberts of The Dispatch

His successor called Lollis a mentor and said Lollis’ guidance and leadership have been invaluable to him. “I just appreciate what he has done for me,” said Kepley, who was hired in 1985, promoted to lieutenant in 1996 and to captain in 2005, and has served as major since 2009. He will continue his predecessor’s efforts to reduce crime and make the city safer.

Lollis and Kepley are graduates of WCU’s criminal justice program, with the CJ residential and distance programs among the university’s most popular offerings. Effective July 1, the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice will relocate from the College of Health and Human Sciences to the College of Arts and Sciences in support of the department’s evolution into more of a social sciences offering that broadly and critically scrutinizes crime, criminals, justice systems and emergency management issues.

From articles written by Darrick Ignasiak and printed in edited format with permission of The Dispatch of Lexington.