UNLV Department of Police Services celebrates its' 40th anniversary

Posted January 1, 2012

We are very excited to announce that the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Department of Police Services is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. UNLV Police Services is the largest, most well-equipped NSHE police force in Nevada. It is fully self-sufficient in all of its operations.

The road leading to where the department is today began on June 11, 1965. The Board of Regents created the University of Nevada Police on that date, and since that time, university police officers have served the UNLV community. In 1972, the Board of Regents further refined law enforcement services on the campus when it founded an independent police department at UNLV. The department began its existence operating out of a trailer on Harmon Avenue as a group of campus security watchmen. This continued until the early 1990s. As the population of the campus increased, there were some modifications to the department. More police officers and fewer watchmen began patrolling the campus because the department was being asked to take on more responsibilities than could be expected of security officers.

Like most university police departments, it is often forgotten that the officers are more than just uniformed security. In fact, UNLV's police officers are Category I peace officers and are required to complete a 22-week, 750-hour state Peace Officers' Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) academy program as well as pass 560 hours of field training to qualify for the rank of University Police Officer I. After successfully completing a one-year probationary period, an officer is promoted to the rank of University Police Officer II. UNLV Police Services prides itself on its professionalism and is a member of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (I.A.C.L.E.A.) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (I.A.C.P.). Our department follows a community policing philosophy that guides all department interactions with the UNLV community and the Las Vegas community in order to identify and solve problems.

Since its inception, the department has had four full-time police chiefs and two interim chiefs. The first chief of police at UNLV was Chief Dale Florian in 1972. Nine years later, Chief William Kolber took the position. In 1987, Chief Hollenbeck was named the UNLV Chief of Police, and 12 years later, Sergeant Don Drake and former A.T.F. Chief Ed Verkin served as interim chiefs before Chief José Elique was appointed to the position in 2000.

Today's department would barely be recognizable to the officers who inhabited that trailer off Harmon Avenue back in 1972. The department currently consists of an off-campus police headquarters, substations on both the Maryland Parkway Campus and the Shadow Lane Campus, and a 24-hour emergency communications police facility. The department consists of several units, including vehicle patrol, bicycle patrol, communications and dispatch, community relations and crime prevention, investigations, enduro bike patrol, an explosives detection K-9 unit, records and property, and student security. The department also manages all police and emergency dispatching services for the CSN campuses along with limited criminal records checks for Truckee Meadows Community College.

Recently, Police Services established an Emergency Notification System (E.N.S.) for the campus. The E.N.S. is one of the methods our police use to inform the campus in the case of an emergency. This system sends emergency warnings to members of the campus community through a variety of channels, including university email, personal email, voicemail and text messaging.

Of course, the UNLV Police Department isn't only noteworthy for its size and development compared to its fellow NSHE law enforcement agencies. It has also served as an innovator for its peers. UNLV Police Services helped enhance the professionalism of NSHE law enforcement when it worked with UNLV administration and the Board of Regents to develop an NSHE systemwide process for evaluating police operations every five years. All NSHE police departments must now follow a similar assessment process to maintain their operational integrity and achieve the high standards expected by Nevada's citizenry. UNLV Police Services' management assessments can be viewed on our website.

Another way in which the UNLV Police Department contributed to the increased professionalism of NSHE law enforcement was through its hosting of the 49th Annual I.A.C.L.E.A. Conference in 2007. I.A.C.L.E.A. is considered the premier worldwide law enforcement association for university police agencies, and hosting its conference is considered a rare opportunity. Not only did hosting the event shine a bright light on NSHE's growing emphasis on community policing, but it also gave UNLV and all of its peer agencies in Nevada higher education an opportunity to learn and adopt "best practice" law enforcement techniques from the most revered experts in the field.

In order to commemorate the department's 40th anniversary and honor the contributions of all those who have worked to build the department to where it stands today, all officers of the UNLV Department of Police Services are sporting a special anniversary patch on their uniforms. The patch will be worn throughout this year as a celebration of the 40th anniversary and as an acknowledgement of how far we have come as a university police department.