Chief of Police receives national honor

After a trip to The National Association of Campus Safety Administration annual conference, UNA Chief of Police Kevin Gillilan brought the honor of National Chief of the Year back to Florence.

Gillilan traveled to the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas July 24-28 for the conference after the association notified him in late June about receiving the award.

Gillilan said an anonymous colleague nominated him for the award, and the university urged him to attend the conference to accept the award in person.

“I was very proud to (go to the conference) and represent UNA in a national setting like that,” Gillilan said. “It’s kind of a once in a lifelong thing. It was a pleasant surprise.”

The National Association of Campus Safety Administration said choosing the winner was not easy because they have over 3,000 members and over 750 members attended the conference, according to their Facebook page.

Gillilan said any awards he receives are due to the work of the UNA officers and the support of the UNA family.

“In my mind, any award I get is just a tribute to the officers who work here,” Gillilan said. “They make me look good.”

Gillilan said the department has had a string of “good years,” but that is all determined by the hard work the officers put in.

Gillilan said of all the campus agencies he worked at, UNA stands out.

“UNA is one of the most supportive (communities), not only in the administration or the faculty and staff, but also in the student body, of any place I’ve ever seen,” Gillilan said. “This community is fantastic.”

The National Association of Campus Safety Administration said they chose Gillilan because in his two years at UNA, the department has grown “in strength and professionalism.”

Under his direction, the department acquired bullet-proof vests, body cameras, intermediate weapons and new classroom lock down equipment from a grant Gillilan submitted. Gillilan said more grants are currently pending.

Gillilan said he is proudest of the steps the program made toward accreditation. His goal is to grow the department as the campus grows.

“I work as if every student at the University of North Alabama is my own child,” Gillian said. “I also work for an incredible university that supports the department, from the administration all the way down. It has truly been a great experience here.”

Since Gillilan came to UNA, the campus was in the top 50 safest campuses in the country.

UNA hired Gillilan in 2015, but he has 23 years in campus law enforcement. In the past, he served as a lieutenant at Samford University and was Chief of Police at Talladega College and the University of Pittsburgh.

Gillilan is currently continuing to expand his knowledge of campus safety by completing his doctoral degree in criminal justice and emergency management.