Hestness retiring in summer

The top cop on campus, Greg Hestness, is calling it a career after decades of police work.

by Blair Emerson

University of Minnesota police Chief Greg Hestness will retire in June after serving more than 11 years as the University’s assistant vice president for public safety and chief of police, he announced last week.

After 40 years of police work and a tenure at the University marked by declining crime and high-profile campus events, the Minneapolis native won’t return to his post as head of University police when his appointment expires June 15.

“My family needs a little bit more of my time,” Hestness said, adding that he’s discussed his potential retirement throughout the past few months with Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock.

Hestness has led the University through “major changes” like the opening of the Green Line light rail and last fall’s increase in off-campus robberies, Wheelock said in a Friday email to University students, faculty and staff members.

“Over the years, Greg has established strong relationships and has become a respected voice in the Twin Cities law enforcement community,” Wheelock said in the email.

University police officers have handled several high-profile events on campus since Hestness took his post in 2003, including controversial Northrop Auditorium appearances from Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Overall, crime on campus has decreased in recent years, which Hestness pointed to as an accomplishment.

“It’s not just police work,” Hestness said. “That’s certainly part of it.”

The department has struggled to hire officers from diverse backgrounds, he said, largely because it hires infrequently. But recruiting officers from diverse communities will remain a priority.

Hestness earned a University degree in sociology of law, criminology and deviance, he said. Before joining University police, he served nearly 30 years in the Minneapolis Police Department in positions like patrol officer and deputy chief.

University officials will begin looking for Hestness’ replacement “very soon,” Wheelock said in the campus-wide email.