A Veteran Pine Belt lawman who oversaw the advancement of the University of Southern Mississippi Police Department concluded a stellar career in law enforcement June 28, when he traded his badge in for what family, friends and colleagues agree is a well-deserved retirement.
Bob Hopkins, who previously served with the Hattiesburg Police Department, was promoted from lieutenant investigator to chief of the USM University Police Department in 2001, and leaves as the longest-serving head of the department. During his tenure, the department was recognized by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in 2005, and fully accredited in 2009.
“It’s been a pleasure, a real joy and a blessing, for me to lead the men and women who serve this department and the university,” Hopkins said. “I’m grateful to have had this opportunity, and I know UPD will continue to thrive and serve the needs of our community in a professional manner for many years to come.”
Hopkins earned praise for his leadership during his 20-plus year service to the department, particularly during crises that included Hurricane Katrina, for which he was named one of USM’s “Heroes of Katrina,” and in the aftermath of an EF4 tornado that struck the Hattiesburg campus in February 2013.
“The care you’ve shown for our university, and how you’ve trained your employees to provide that same care and service, truly exemplifies what it means to be a Golden Eagle,” said USM Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Dee Dee Anderson at a retirement reception for Hopkins May 30 on the Hattiesburg campus.
UPD Assistant Chief Rusty Keyes, who will take over as chief of the department following Hopkins’ retirement, said his friend and mentor “is leaving UPD as one of the best law enforcement agencies in the country.”
“I appreciate his guidance and mentorship over the last few months in preparing me for my new position,” Keyes said. “I also thank him for having the trust in me to continue taking UPD to the top. He is leaving a true legacy at the department and Southern Miss, and will be missed.”
USM Director of Student Counseling Services Deena Crawford described Hopkins as “a Southern Miss ambassador - always helpful and friendly, dedicated to the university - both the institution and the people.”
“As a colleague, I’ve laughed with him often and, thank God, less often, I’ve been reassured by his calm presence during tense situations,” Crawford said. “I’ll miss him dearly, but am grateful we are in the very capable hands of Chief Keyes.”