John Thomas, a 38-year law enforcement veteran and UCLA alumnus, has been appointed the campus’ interim chief of police. Chief Thomas assumed the role on December 27, 2022, following the scheduled retirement of Chief Tony Lee.
Thomas is known for his collaborative and community-oriented approach to public safety, as well as his commitment to mentoring law enforcement and civic leaders. He comes to UCLA from the University of Southern California, where he served most recently as special advisor to the senior vice president for administration. Before that, he was the USC Department of Public Safety’s executive director and chief of police from 2013 to 2022, assistant chief from 2009 to 2013, and a police captain from 2006 to 2009.
Prior to USC, he served as the University of the District of Columbia deputy chief of police and emergency management from 2005 to 2006 and in various roles in the Los Angeles Police Department.
While attending UCLA from 1980 to 1984, Thomas was editor-in-chief of the Black student publication NOMMO and worked at the ASUCLA bookstore. Thomas suspended his education during his senior year to join the LAPD and eventually completed his degree at Mount St. Mary’s University. He also earned a master’s degree in executive leadership from USC.
“I am excited to welcome John back to UCLA in his new role,” said Michael Beck, UCLA’s administrative vice chancellor, to whom the chief reports. “I am confident that his experience and expertise will greatly benefit our campus and our Bruin community, and that he will be an excellent steward of our public safety enterprise.”
Thomas will serve while a comprehensive search for a permanent chief begins later this year.