LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 31, 2022) — In recognition of the University of Kentucky Police Department’s (UKPD) 50th anniversary and Women’s History Month, the department is recognizing some exceptional women.
First, the department is honored to feature Retired Captain Bobbye Carpenter. Carpenter was the third female officer to be hired by UKPD. She received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University and spent 11 months as an officer at Blue Grass Airport. Carpenter began her career with UKPD on Sept. 8, 1975. As a police recruit back in 1975, she started with a salary of $3.25 an hour. Carpenter graduated basic training at the Department of Criminal Justice Training and on Dec. 19, 1975, was sworn in as a UKPD patrol officer.
In 1983, Carpenter was promoted to sergeant and four months later was assigned to the detective bureau to investigate various crimes on campus. The chief of police, Wilson McComas, wanted UKPD to rise to a standard of accountability and selected then-Sergeant Carpenter to serve as the first accreditation manager. Carpenter’s performance in the area helped develop the model for maintaining accreditation and helped UKPD obtain four of the six accreditations awarded through the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police.
As a new officer assigned to her accreditation team in 2005, Deputy Chief Brown recalled, “Capt. Carpenter demonstrated how important it is to our community that UKPD is adopting the best practices in law enforcement. She showed me how this improves our professionalism as a department and better serve our community.”
In 2000, under Chief Rebecca Langston, UK’s first female chief of police, who also went on to serve as public safety commissioner for Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Carpenter was promoted to the rank of captain. She first worked as an administrative captain in charge of police communication and records and continued to maintain accreditation. She also served as patrol captain and later as captain of UKPD HealthCare Security Operations. In 2015, Carpenter was granted partial retirement and worked on her last accreditation process before taking full retirement on July 6, 2016.
“During my nearly 41 years of service with UK Police, what I loved most was the people that I worked with both on the department and throughout the UK community. The officers that I worked with were some of the most professional and wonderful people who truly cared about the community that they served," she said. "The people that I responded to were some of the nicest and most compassionate people that you could encounter. I really enjoyed my time at UKPD HealthCare Security and the people at the hospital.”
Andy Eilertson began working for the department in 2004. She worked her way up through the ranks and currently serves as a lieutenant. In 2017, Eilertson was the founding member of the first-ever LGBTQ liaison for UKPD. Eilertson understood the need to develop stronger relationships with marginalized groups and helped to shape this program and provide resources for members of the community to help facilitate conversations and promote dialogue.
“I was able to help develop the program and learn what the major concerns were and to help facilitate change. I made sure I was available to hear concerns, to help facilitate transparency within UKPD and the University of Kentucky and help show that we were wanting to build genuine, authentic relationships with students and staff of the LGBTQ community,” Eilertson said.
In 2021, Eilertson was named lieutenant of the special victims unit. This unit is comprised of a lieutenant, a detective and a victim’s advocate to better respond to incidents of interpersonal violence that impact our community. Eilertson is dedicated to providing a caring response that will hopefully help with the recovery process.
“We have been able to help foster positive relationships and address unique safety concerns within the community and this has been a benefit for all," Eilertson said. "I look forward to watching these two programs continue to grow and watching the LGBTQ community and UKPD continue to work together, to advocate and continue to improve relationships and life here on campus.”
UKPD also has a non-sworn trailblazer in its department. Lisa Watson has been with the department for 32 years as a staff support employee. During her tenure with UKPD, Watson has been instrumental in the growth of the UKPD HealthCare Security department. What started as nearly 20 officers, has now grown to roughly 100 security officers covering three hospitals. Watson continued to serve by providing administrative support even through all the growth, ensuring all the officers completed the hiring process, were on-boarded to the department, received all their equipment and uniforms and continued to serve their administrative needs. One of Watson’s favorite events to work as a UKPD employee is the UK football home games. Here she worked alongside police and security officers and helped collect lost and found items, assist lost patrons and provide information to security, police and partner agency officers.
Watson says, “The people I work with are great. I love when I am able to see everyone. Our department is so big, the football games are the best time to catch up.”
In April of this year, Watson will be able to take a well-deserved retirement. She plans to spend more time with family and travel.
UKPD would like to thank and honor all the women past, present and future for their hard work and dedication shown to the department and the community. UKPD would not be the organization it is today without them.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.