New police chief takes reins at SPC

Story by Cade Thomas/MCOM 2311
Photos by students in MCOM 1316

Do you recognize this man?  here is a clue. He’s wearing an SPC police uniform. His name is Jonathan Sullivan.  His title is South Plains College Police Chief.

Sullivan has been the chief for a little over three months. SPC Dean of Students Lynne Cleavinger sent an @allSPC email in December announcing his promotion and welcoming him.  Yet now, a few months down the road, many students are just becoming familiar with who Sullivan is.

Last month a group of a dozen students were asked, “Do you know the SPC police chief?” Only one of the students answered “yes”, and he said he only knew because he had recently gotten a traffic ticket. The rest of the students either shook their heads or replied, “No, I don’t.”

Sullivan says he’s an introverted person. “But I love engaging with the students,” he says. “And we have an open-door policy, so anyone can come in and talk to me.”

The only problem with that is Sullivan admittedly stays busy with work. He says he doesn’t have much time to be social.

He says he enjoys being the chief, but it does come with challenges and stresses. “I find myself doing not as much police work and more administrative work,” he says, “which is to be expected in a position like this.”

Sullivan says he supervises about 25 people on campus. This includes the other patrol officers, a parking enforcement officer, and officers in the security department.

“There are no two days the same,” Sullivan says, “but I do a lot of paperwork, reports, and scheduling. I’m also a working chief and take calls throughout the day and act as a patrol officer.”

Sullivan has been an SPC police officer since September 2021. Born and raised in Orange County, California, when it came time to go off to college, he moved to Levelland and attended the SPC Law Enforcement Academy.

Kenny Burns, the director of the police academy, remembers Sullivan back then. “He was a good student,” Burns says, “that was quiet and easy to get along with.”

In his time as a student at SPC, Sullivan met his wife. She was a part of the same graduating class at the academy.   Now, the couple has two young daughters.

Sullivan went on to work for the Wolforth and Lubbock police departments after graduating from the academy here at SPC.

“I began my law enforcement career in Wolfforth,” he says.  He spent a little over three years there before moving on to the Lubbock Police Department.

Sullivan says he and his wife quit their jobs and took a break to travel. They traveled for about a year before moving to California. But then, he says, Covid hit. That is when he says he and his family moved back to his wife’s hometown here in Levelland.

Sullivan says the SPC Law Enforcement Academy helped him make his career into what it is now. SPC is one of the 160 police training campuses in the state. According to the SPC website, the law enforcement technology program here will get you a head start specifically with local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies. 

Burns also points out the law enforcement program can do much more, such as teaching the basics to head start a career as a game warden.

A promotion to police chief is where Sullivan’s career has led him so far.

“I hope we didn’t talk him into something he didn’t want to do,” Burns says, “because I think we are extremely lucky to have him as our chief.”

So, if you happen to be in the Student Center and walk by the police office, you can put a name with the face. Try stopping in to say “Hello”, and welcome Sullivan to his new role.

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