Elon University names new police chief for campus

Elon University has selected Joseph LeMire, a career law enforcement officer with more than 28 years of experience, as its new chief of Campus Safety and Police. He will join the university on March 29.

LeMire comes to Elon from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Police Department, where he has served as chief since 2015.

Elon University has been without a chief since Dennis Franks, who held the post for seven years, left the university at the end of 2019 to become police chief in Stallings, which splits the Mecklenburg and Union county lines.

Elon University had restarted the search for a new chief last fall after the university was unable to identify a new chief after the four finalists were interviewed last spring.

Throughout his career, LeMire has built a reputation as a principled leader with experience in strategic planning, risk management, emergency response and community collaboration, according to Elon University’s press release announcing the appointment. His career has focused on community policing and building relationships, according to the university, due to his belief that collaboration makes for a stronger, safer community.

As police chief in Milwaukee, LeMire has overseen the daily operations of a department with nearly 50 full-time employees, including 36 sworn officers, and an additional 18 student employees. He has created teams within the department in the areas of sensitive crimes, community policing, mountain bike patrol and liaisons with University Housing and LGBTQ Resource Center at UWM.

LeMire has led a 120-person team in the university’s emergency Operations Center and was a co-incident commander for the university’s COVID-19 response and recovery plan. He implemented a Coffee with a Cop program on campus to engage with a variety of student, faculty and staff groups, and co-developed with the dean of students a classroom safety training program to prepare for potentially disruptive or violent incidents on campus.

LeMire began his law enforcement career as an officer with the Hannahville Indian Community in Wilson, Michigan; he then spent more than 13 years as a police officer/firefighter with the Escanaba, Michigan, Department of Public Safety where he worked as a sergeant, detective/sergeant and detective/lieutenant.

In 2008, he joined the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Police Department and was promoted to chief of police in 2010. While there, his collaborative approach to policing earned him the Sole Man Award from the university’s Women’s Center, the Friend of Students in Residence Halls award, and the LGBTQ Outstanding Ally/Faculty Award.

He began his role as chief of police at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Police Department in July 2015.

LeMire received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 2015 where he received the “Stephen Hintz” outstanding graduate award. LeMire is also a graduate of the Criminal Justice Executive Development Institute and the FBI Regional Command College in Appleton, Wisconsin, in 2014.

LeMire and his wife, Becky, are excited to make the Elon area their new home and to begin work at the university. They have two adult children.