During her 26 years at the University of Tennessee Police Department, Deputy Chief Emily Simerly has created a unit that connects police officers and students in meaningful partnerships and instituted processes that allow UTPD to more efficiently serve the Volunteer community.
In light of these and other efforts, Simerly has received a statewide honor for her leadership in improving law enforcement.
The Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police recently awarded Simerly its highest-level Leadership Certificate Award. She is the 87th law enforcement executive to receive the honor, which recognizes technical training, academic achievements, leadership and management experience, service, and contributions to the law enforcement profession.
In two and a half decades at UTPD, Simerly has served in numerous roles including patrol officer, investigator, and supervisor. She is currently deputy chief over UTPD’s administrative division, which is composed of 36 staff members, including nine supervisors. She is responsible for recruitment of UTPD’s full-time staff.
Simerly founded UTPD’s Community Relations Unit, which is responsible for the creation and delivery of numerous educational programs to the campus community. The unit consists of three officers and a K9 who present programs in residence halls, classrooms, and orientation sessions. Through the unit’s liaison program, UTPD officers are assigned as partners to every residence hall and many student organizations to promote communication between students and the department.
Simerly overhauled UTPD’s business office to bring in greater oversight and streamline its budget process. The department had been using an antiquated paper-based system.
Recognizing that she knew the least about the financial side of UTPD, she pursued a Master of Business Administration degree in finance. As a result, she instituted automated and electronic processes that brought more accountability to UTPD’s budget and payroll processes. UTPD’s payroll accounts for 100 full-time employees and more than 200 special events employees.
More educated, developed, well-rounded and qualified leaders in law enforcement are paramount to an organization’s growth, Simerly said. The Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police’s leadership certificate program provides a model for leaders to seek attainable and measurable goals for professional development, she said.