Farewell to NEIU’s Chief of Police


Photo courtesy of NEIU

James Lyon Jr. will be taking a new position at Augusta University in Georgia.

After 11 years of service, NEIU will say goodbye to Police Chief James Lyon Jr, who accepted a position as director of public safety at Augusta University in Georgia.

Lyon was picked to fill the position out of a pool of 55 applicants after a nationwide search.

He said he felt honored to be selected.

“This is something that I have been working towards my entire career,” Lyon said, regarding the transition to a larger university police department such as Augusta’s. One of his motivations to search for a position there was to be closer to family.

Lyon explained that he and his wife have family in southern states — both grew up in central Florida — and said that he is excited about that particular aspect since he doesn’t have family in Illinois. He came to Chicago for his current position at NEIU but now is glad to be moving closer to his parents as well as his wife’s parents who are elderly.

Lyon said that while NEIU will conduct a nationwide search to fill his position, Lt. Paul Kruszynski will serve as Interim Chief of Police. Lyon said there is a possibility for the position to be awarded to either Kruszynski or another applicant once all applications are reviewed.

“(NEIU) would be hard-pressed in finding someone with more experience than Lt. Kruszynski,” Lyon said. “He’s been in law enforcement since the early ‘70s. I’m very confident in his abilities to run this department.”

But family wasn’t the only reason Lyon chose to apply to Augusta. It’s also a growing university and medical school with a hospital on campus, the result of a 2013 merger between Augusta State and Georgia Health Sciences.

Lyon said that this will be a new experience for him.

“That’s something I haven’t had exposure to before, policing in a hospital environment,” he said.

Augusta, considering its recent union with another university, has a much larger campus than NEIU. And they, like NEIU, are expanding their residence halls.

“One of the challenges I know going into the position would be to bolster community relations with the university’s police department,” Lyon said.

Augusta’s former chief of police William McBride had resigned amid an internal investigation in June 2015.

“I will really miss the people that I’ve worked with and the students that I’ve interacted over the last 11 years,” Lyon said.

Though he feels privileged to have this opportunity and is excited to move south he said it was still a tough decision to leave NEIU.

“When I arrived on campus in May of 2005 we had a pretty good police department, but I think we have an outstanding police department now,” Lyon said. “And that’s not because of me. That’s because of collectively what we have done as a team.”

NEIU Sergeant Lawrence A. Loster said that Lyon has “done a lot for this department.” He said Lyon spearheaded the NEIU university police department’s recent accreditation with the Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program. NEIU is now only one of three public universities to be accredited in the state of Illinois.

“It shows the dedication and professionalism within the department,” said Sergeant John Schulz, who served as accreditation manager. The accreditation, Schulz said, shows prestige and demonstrates that all officers and the Chief are performing at a high level set by ILEAP standards.

Lyon’s last day on the job was Feb. 10 and he will start work at Augusta university on March 1.