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Former University of Illinois police chief Paul Dollins is being remembered as a leader in law enforcement, a community builder and a great friend.
Dollins, 81, died March 30 in Urbana.
After serving in the U.S. Army, working briefly as a teacher and later as a narcotics investigator downstate, Dollins started at the U. of I. Police Department in 1969 as an officer and investigator. He became chief of police in 1974.
Under Dollins’ leadership, the university expanded sexual assault prevention activities and launched student patrol, which provides SafeWalks and acts as an important set of extra eyes and ears to enhance campus safety.
“For those fortunate enough to have worked with Chief Dollins, he was a great person and chief of police,” said U. of I. police chief Jeff Christensen.
After Dollins’ retirement in 1995, he was chairperson of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police legislative committee, and he lobbied for the passage of state laws requiring motorists to wear seatbelts and children to be placed in appropriate seats. Moraine Valley Community College police chief Patrick O’Connor, who now chairs the IACP legislative committee, said Dollins “had developed relationships in the statehouse that enabled him to deal with both sides of the aisle with trust.”
Dollins was instrumental in launching the Champaign County Crime Stoppers in 1986. The organization, which collects anonymous crime tips, has assisted area police in solving more than 1,900 cases, resulting in about 1,500 arrests.
Champaign County Crime Stoppers President John Hecker remembers when the organization was just an idea, and Dollins handed him a book detailing how to launch a Crime Stoppers group.
“He also was one of the ones from law enforcement, from day one, 100 percent behind us,” Hecker said. “We didn’t have to prove anything to him.”
Hecker said he was fortunate to get to know Dollins personally, too, calling him “a great spokesperson for the university, very fair, and just the type of person you want to have in law enforcement.”