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ASU Police Department Sergeant Al Phillips announces his retirement

Sergeant Al Phillips
June 22, 2012

After a 27-year career in law enforcement, Sergeant Al Phillips is retiring from the Arizona State University Police Department on June 30.

Phillips has policed three ASU campuses over the course of his career and served as a liaison with various stakeholders. He also appeared as an ASU police officer in the 1987 movie “Campus Man,” which was filmed at ASU.

Phillips most recent assignment was at the Downtown Phoenix campus where he has been stationed since 2006.

“It’s so new and vibrant,” he said. “We basically built that campus from scratch.”

Working with colleagues who helped establish the campus was a highlight for Phillips as he watched the campus grow and bring new life to the central city.

“ASU is a really big part of downtown now,” Phillips said. He began his police career in Tempe, then moved to the Polytechnic campus and finally was transferred downtown.

Phillips is known as the “man about campus” at ASU because of his effective use of community-based policing skills.

“Losing Sergeant Phillips from our ranks definitely will affect the department’s fellowship,” said ASU Police Department Chief John Pickens. “The sense of community he’s helped build within our organization as well as with our partners on and off campus will continue to expand because of his efforts. We all hope that his new life path brings him much happiness.”

One of the aspects Phillips enjoyed most about police work was being able to offer assistance and resolve conflicts.

“I really do like helping people,” he said. “I enjoy being able to diffuse situations and conflicts. It basically boils down to how you treat the people that determines how the situation is going to be resolved.”

Working in a university environment has offered him the chance to work events from presidential candidate debates to major concerts.

“The university has a lot of really good people that will do almost anything to help you. I’ve been treated really well by almost everyone I’ve encountered,” he said. “The vast majority of people know me by my first name. That isn’t usual in most departments.”

His career as a police officer began on Oct. 18, 1985, for the ASU Department of Public Safety. Between 1986 and 1988, he was a bicycle patrol officer and established bicycle safety classes. Phillips also worked closely with the City of Tempe Police Department, traffic engineers and Justice Court to effectively address bicycle traffic issues in both jurisdictions.

In 1988, Phillips was promoted to Corporal and acted as patrol supervisor in the absence of a sergeant. He was reassigned to crime prevention in 1990, where he continued to fine-tune his community-policing skills.

He supervised a group of student employees from 1993 to 1996 while he developed and implemented community policing, including the opening of outreach stations at the Memorial Union and Manzanita Hall. Phillips was placed in an interim sergeant position in 1999. He was subsequently promoted to sergeant in 2004.

Before his law enforcement career, Phillips received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 1980.

Following more than a quarter of a century in law enforcement, Phillips decided that it is time to try something else. An artist, his plan now is to paint and spend time with his family.

“I’ll miss the people I work with quite a bit, but I’m excited to have the chance to experience new things and explore new challenges,” he said.