John Thomas, UCLA’s interim chief of police since December 2022, has been selected from an experienced pool of candidates to lead the university’s police department.
Prior to UCLA, Chief Thomas served as special advisor to the senior vice president for administration at the University of Southern California. Chief Thomas was the USC Department of Public Safety’s executive director and chief from 2013 to 2022, assistant chief from 2009 to 2013 and police captain from 2006 to 2009. Previously, he served as the University of the District of Columbia deputy chief of police and emergency management from 2005 to 2006 and has served in various roles in the Los Angeles Police Department, where he rose to the level of lieutenant.
Chief Thomas is well known for his collaborative and community-oriented approach to public safety, as well as his strong commitment to the mentorship of law enforcement and civic leaders. He serves on the board of directors for various professional organizations, including the Los Angeles Police Museum, FBI National Academy Associates, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Pac-12 Chiefs Association. He is also affiliated with the Police Executive Research Forum and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In addition, he was a researcher and contributor to the National Policing Institute’s Assessment and Report on Findings on Policing National Best Practices and is a workstream leader on community response to lower-level offenses and calls for service. Chief Thomas is also an alumnus of UCLA and while attending from 1980 to 1984, he was editor-in-chief of the Black student publication NOMMO and worked at the ASUCLA bookstore.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Monroe Gorden Jr. chaired the search committee which included the following members:
- Richard Azar – chief operating officer, UCLA Health Enterprise Administration
- Joseph A. Farrow – chief of police, UC Davis and chair, Systemwide Police Chiefs Council
- Naomi Hammonds – president, Undergraduate Students Association Council
- Vickie Mays – distinguished professor of psychology and health policy and management; director, BRITE Center for Science, Research and Policy; and special advisor to the chancellor on Black life
- Noor Nakhaei – president, Graduate Student Association
- Rasha Gerges Shields – partner, Jones Day; vice president, Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners; and co-chair, UCLA public safety review
- Michelle A. Sityar – chief of staff, UCLA Administration
- Abel Valenzuela, Jr. – interim dean, Division of Social Sciences and professor of labor studies, urban planning and Chicana/o and Central American studies