Chief Farrow and Chancellor May having a conversation at a table with the Face to Face title in the background
UC Davis Police Chief Joe Farrow speaks to Chancellor Gary S. May on the set of Face to Face With Chancellor May. (Alysha Beck/UC Davis)

Chancellor May and Chief Farrow Discuss Campus Policing Model

After a 30-year career with the California Highway Patrol, Joe Farrow could be focused on his hobbies of golfing and racing motorcycles. Instead, he’s trying to reimagine policing at the helm of the UC Davis Police Department.

Farrow, who has served as chief at UC Davis since 2017, sat down with Chancellor Gary S. May for a conversation about policing, mental health and more on Face to Face With Chancellor May.

Farrow told the chancellor he came to UC Davis because he wanted a place where he could apply what he had learned through a long career in law enforcement, which included a decade as commissioner of the CHP.

“I realized at that time that that ongoing conversation about reimagining policing was becoming very real,” Farrow said. “It was prominent, and it was really time to bring contemporary standards into a university setting and really set the stage and lead.”


He recalled a prior conversation the two had, May on his last day at Georgia Tech, Farrow on his first day at UC Davis.

“We had a conversation about: Can you change the dialogue? Can you change the discussion about policing?” Farrow said. “And to me, that was a calling. It was a challenge. And I thought that if not me, then who?”

    The two discussed ways the UC Davis Police Department stands alone, like its Police Accountability Board, the fact it is one of only two UC police departments to earn accreditation from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, and the way Farrow has pushed for increased diversity in law enforcement by championing a new law that allows anyone who has the right to work in the state to become a peace officer, even if they are an undocumented immigrant.

    “Little by little, I think we're making a huge difference,” Farrow said, applauding May for encouraging him and other high-level administrators at the university to speak out on issues of all kinds.

    Another issue close to Farrow’s heart is mental illness; he is the first law enforcement officer to serve as president of the board of directors of the California branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI.

    Watch the above video to hear more about Farrow’s career, his goals at UC Davis and his personal life.

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