NIH Police Chief Retires from 2nd Career
After 60 years total of government service—22 of those at NIH—NIH Police Chief Alvin Hinton has retired. He previously served in the United States Park Police (USPP) for 31 years and 7 months. He started his law enforcement career in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. He rose through the ranks to become a deputy chief of police for the Field Offices Division (commanded all outside of the environs of the Washington metropolitan area), and later the Operations Division (commanded all areas within metropolitan D.C.).
During his tenure with USPP, Hinton also commanded the New York Field Office, Training Branch and Major Crimes Unit. He served as a law enforcement specialist and special investigator for the National Park Service regional director of the National Capital Region.
Additionally, Hinton managed myriad high profile events, including leading law enforcement efforts for the Cuban Refugee Relocation Program at Fort Chaffee, Ark.; the Million Man March in Washington; the Y2K celebration on the National Mall; the 50th anniversary of the North American Treaty Organization; and national Independence Day celebrations on the National Mall.
He provided support, protection and collaboration with partner law enforcement organizations to protect the President of the United States, heads of state and other dignitaries.
However, when the time came for him to retire from the Park Police, Hinton knew he had more to offer. In January 2000, he started his second law enforcement career at NIH on the first workday following his USPP retirement.
The NIH that Hinton came to is different from the NIH today in one significant way: security. In 2000, the campus was “wide-open,” he recalled. There was no perimeter fence, and the public could come and go freely. Hinton admitted that he felt “uneasy” about the lack of security presence then, but the impetus for change did not come until after 9/11.
Hinton directed creation and establishment of NIH Police field units at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories, the National Cancer Institute campus at Fort Detrick, and the Bay View campus in Baltimore, and helped develop the NIH Perimeter Security System (PSS) on the main campus, which includes the perimeter fencing, employee entrances and entrances for patients, visitors and commercial vehicles, and organized a viable guard force to staff the PSS and operate the NIH Visitor Management System.
One benefit that came from ramping up security was the opportunity to forge strong relationships with the FBI, CIA and local police departments, Hinton added. “You can’t do it all yourself.”
These collaborations were important post-9/11 for protecting NIH leadership such as then-director Dr. Elias Zerhouni and are now necessary again in the pandemic era for high-profile NIH’ers like NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
In addition to his role in reinforcing security, Hinton also strove to create a “bank account of good will” between the police force and the rest of the NIH community. The force is unique because it mostly polices and provides protection to thousands of coworkers, Hinton said.
“The Division of Police walk a fine line between treating coworkers fairly and policing with integrity,” he explained. However, he is proud of their relationship with the NIH community. He wishes for everyone to remember that “the police are coworkers, even if they’re not scientists.”
Hinton also served in the Air Force, the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Labor. He earned associate’s and bachelor of science degrees in the administration of justice from the American University and a master of science in management degree from Johns Hopkins University. He is also a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy.
Over the course of his career, Hinton received multiple awards, including two Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Awards for Distinguished Service, an NIH Certificate of Recognition, an NIH Director’s Award and an NIH Office of Research Services Management Council Certificate of Appreciation.
“NIH is a great place, both philosophically and in reality,” he said. Both Hinton and his grandmother received treatment at the Clinical Center he described as “incredible…care you wouldn’t believe.”
He expressed gratitude for his 22 years at NIH: “Things happened for me that I never would have thought possible.” He concluded, “You can do anything if you apply yourself.”
Chief Hinton remains a life member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Deputy Chief of the NIH Police, Leslie Campbell, will serve as acting chief until a new selection is made.