West Side Pride: Longtime Phoenix Police Leader Found Focus at GCU

March 12, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

By Michael Ferraresi
GCU Today Magazine

Sunlight reflected off the gold-plated badge pinned above Cmdr. Tim Hampton’s heart as he strolled the campus where he launched his police career. He knew the place well, yet barely recognized it.

Hampton graduated from his hometown Grand Canyon University in 1985, when it was truly a little Christian school. The quiet buildings where he took undergraduate night classes were replaced by state-of-the-art high-rises now bustling with students.

GCU's library is one of a few buildings Phoenix Police Cmdr. Tim Hampton remembers from 1985, though he says his alma mater is well-known in law enforcement circles. (Photo by Darryl Webb)

The longtime Phoenix Police Department leader grew up just a few miles from GCU. He policed the area as an officer and oversaw west Phoenix as a patrol supervisor, often finding himself involved with his alma mater on crime-reduction programs.

Hampton expects to earn his Ph.D. in organizational leadership this year and would then like to teach at GCU. For him, teaching and mentorship are more of a responsibility than a goal — and GCU encourages that mentality.

“The atmosphere of teaching, the camaraderie here — it’s just different,” said Hampton, a 23-year Phoenix police veteran who oversees the department’s Property Crimes Bureau.

“That’s what’s special about this campus,” Hampton said. “You actually feel a sense of direction and mission here. It’s not like other universities where it’s just like a herd of cattle moving along.”

GCU has long prided itself on being involved with community efforts such as the federally funded “Weed n Seed” programs to clear crime and blight from nearby neighborhoods. Hampton says the University has committed to being involved with community-based justice, assisting whenever possible to help residents and police in the area around campus. He often found himself at community meetings hosted by his alma mater.

As a GCU undergrad, Hampton majored in behavioral science the same year he became a probation officer. He credited the writing and analytical skills taught at GCU as inspiration to get past the “grunting and sweating mentality” of chasing radio calls. Now, in today’s era of tight city budgets, even beat cops are asked to act as detectives.

“Now with the complexity of crimes, you have to have the ability to comprehend and the cognitive skills necessary to investigate,” said Hampton, whose detectives investigate everything from identity theft and residential burglaries to multimillion-dollar white-collar crimes.

Moving up at a police department is also more difficult without the proper degrees. Phoenix police Sgt. Kenny Laird, who oversees officers assigned to neighborhoods around GCU, said there is a higher standard now for promotions. Online criminal justice degrees through GCU have become an attractive option for working cops who can’t attend class during traditional hours.

Laird, who doubles as GCU’s assistant public safety director, said Hampton is known for his ability to connect with everyone from line officers to neighborhood leaders. How would he be as a college instructor? Hampton understands the need to have well-rounded, well-trained officers on the street — and his reputation for being brutally honest with his fellow officers could serve future cops well.

“The unedited version of Tim Hampton would be interesting to see …,” Laird said. “It would benefit a lot of people.”

Contact Michael Ferraresi at 639.7030 or [email protected].

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