When looking back on his 35-year career as an undercover vice and narcotics officer with the Denver Police Department, Don Lindley, associate professor and chair of the Criminology Department, refers to it as “a ticket to the greatest show on Earth.” He is equally enthusiastic about teaching, and his willingness to convey his own experiences in criminal justice is among the many reasons why students from across the University line up for his courses. He recently shared with regis.edu insights into what led him to Regis and the valuable experience he brings to the classroom.
What inspired a career change from law enforcement to academia?
While I was a police officer, I also served as a U.S. Navy Reserve officer for two decades. Those professions provided me some spare time to attend college and study criminology. While earning my own degrees (two master’s and a doctorate) I also was teaching at the college level — for the same reason I went into police work: because I enjoy helping people.
How did you end up at Regis?
After contending with the vices of society, sailing the oceans and spending what seemed like every day off working toward one degree or another, I had pretty much had enough of it all at one point, so I retired from everything about 15 years ago: the police department, college, teaching and the Navy. Soon afterward, however, Dennis Gallagher — alumnus, professor emeritus and longtime public servant — told me, “Don, you need to teach at Regis; it is not like any other learning institution. You will love the University, and it will love you.” The rest, as they say, is history.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I love to teach because I am able to share a large part of who I am to benefit those who want to go into the field of criminology. My colleagues and I have been a part of the criminal justice system already, so we can offer students the benefit of learning from our own experiences before they enter the system themselves.
What advice would you offer to someone considering a career in criminology today?
A career in law enforcement is the most exciting career you can ever imagine. For students who want to become involved in other people’s traumatic adventures, witness human behavior at its best and worst, a career of law enforcement at the local, state or federal level is the job for them.
What hobbies do you enjoy away from the classroom?
I enjoy working on classic cars: a 1950 Ford, a 1976 VW convertible, a 1964 ½ Mustang convertible and a 1955 two-door Chevy.
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