Western Carolina University Chief of Police Steve Lillard was named national runner-up in the higher education division of Campus Safety magazine’s 2020 Director of the Year awards.

The awards were announced during the magazine-sponsored annual conference, held July 7-8 as an online summit this year because of COVID-19.

Campus Safety commended Lillard for his efforts to provide a wide array of safety programming for students, including Rape Aggression Defense (RAD), Run-Hide-Fight active shooter awareness, sexual assault risk awareness, alcohol risk awareness and study-abroad safety programs.

In 2019, WCU’s Police Department had more than 26,000 interactions with individuals, a record number for its community outreach programs, the publication noted.

Despite an enrollment increase of more than 5 percent in 2018, the community-oriented policing efforts of Lillard and his department led to a decrease or at least a plateau of all nonsexual reportable crimes under the Clery act governing college campus crimes, including 33 percent fewer burglaries, no reported arsons and 83 percent fewer aggravated assaults.

During the past year, Lillard  launched a bicycle patrol program as part of an overall community policing effort. The bike patrol program helps officers improve or maintain fitness levels while decreasing the department’s carbon footprint.

Lillard also partnered with Southwestern Community College to create a joint Basic Law Enforcement Training program that will enable students to become state-certified law enforcement officers at the end of their junior year at WCU.