Chief John Merguie has been appointed police chief of the UCA Police Department upon the retirement of former Police Chief Larry James. Police Chief Merguie formerly served as the Field Operations Bureau Commander and has more than 20 years of service with the department with a total of 26 years experience in law enforcement. He was previously responsible for supervision of all patrol, traffic and field operations functions including special event planning and security. Police Chief Merguie was instrumental in developing an extraordinary partnership with the Division of Housing and Residence Life where he is included as a member of their weekly management meetings. This interwoven alliance with the 4,000 resident-student community, which has been lauded state-wide and nationally, expanded several years ago to include paid housing for eight UCA police officers in university-owned apartment complexes as a way of enhancing safety and developing relationships.
Former Chiefs of Police
Chief Larry K. James (1993 – 2017)
Larry K. James served as chief of police at the University of Central Arkansas since his appointment in 1993. Soon after taking command, Chief James recommended to the UCA administration that the Department of Public Safety be renamed the University of Central Arkansas Police Department. When Chief James assumed command of the UCAPD in 1993, he brought with him the concept of community oriented policing. In 2007, the UCAPD upgraded its 911 equipment. The new equipment allowed the UCAPD’s CommCenter to operate as a primary public safety answering point in the 911 system for all 911 calls originating from the UCA campus or university owned/controlled properties. The CommCenter is the UCAPD Communication Center, from where all activity of the department is coordinated. Prior to the 2007 upgrade, all 911 calls went to the City of Conway and were then transferred to UCA. Now, the 911 caller can have immediate access to the UCAPD which can save critical seconds during an emergency situation. At present, the UCAPD serves as the backup to the City of Conway and Faulkner County 911 services. After the tragedy at Virginia Tech University, Chief James developed a plan to deal with similar situations should they occur at UCA. Patrol officers were equipped with patrol rifles and were required to attend comprehensive training courses in immediate action rapid deployment.
Chief James held the rank of associate vice president reporting directly to the university president and served as a member of the president’s executive staff. With more than 40 years in campus law enforcement he has also served as deputy chief of police at San Jose State University in California and director of public safety for the five-campus Portland Community College District in Portland, Oregon. Chief James is a past-president of the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police and for nearly 10 years served as the Arkansas representative to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, representing all Arkansas municipal and university police chiefs as a voting member of the Division of State Associations of Chiefs of Police.
He was appointed by Governor Mike Huckabee to the Advisory Board of the University of Arkansas System Criminal Justice Institute for two consecutive terms. He served for five years as the president of the Arkansas Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. He serves as a Consultant-Evaluator with the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and has conducted assessments of campus law enforcement agencies in several states.Chief James worked for more than four years as a senior research consultant for Brouillete Research Associates, a law enforcement/organizational development firm in Portland, Oregon, where he authored studies in community policing initiatives for the city of Eugene, an impact analysis of community policing initiatives for the City of Portland Economic Improvement District, and an impact analysis of crime and police response for the Southern Pacific Railroad in the city of Roseburg, Oregon. He has authored studies on the impact of saturation foot patrol efforts on crime and the fear of crime in downtown San Jose and at San Jose State University. Chief James also had a significant role in the development of the first Emergency 9-1-1 Communications Certificate program within the state of Oregon and served as director of the program for several years at Portland Community College. He has served as a management trainer and instructed in law enforcement organization and management at various community colleges and law enforcement institutes.
Chief James retired from the UCA Police Department in January of 2017, after 23 years of service.
Chief Billy Leach (1972 – 1992)
Campus Security received a new name by the end of the 1970s and was called “Department of Public Safety.” In July 1972, after one year on the job as a UCA security officer, Billy Leach, who had recently retired from the U.S. Air Force and had 16 years of Air Force Security Police experience, was made Chief of Campus Security. The first area Chief Leach wanted to improve upon was in public relations and how the security officers could better interact with the students.
Chief Leach was very concerned that his officers had not been properly trained. Soon after taking the job as Chief he began taking steps to alleviate this problem and properly train his officers. In addition to the on campus training Leach provided, he also sent his officers to the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy at East Camden, AR. According to Arkansas law all law enforcement officers had to be certified to make an arrest and this certification was acquired by proper training and passing the required tests. In 1981, a milestone was reached when Department of Public Safety officers were issued firearms. Chief Leach saw the need for weapons and requested that the administration provide firearms for his officers. Officers of the Department of Public Safety began carrying firearms on Aug. 21, 1981.
Chief Leach retired from the UCA Department of Public Safety in 1992, after 21 years of service.