Jeff Hayes, assistant chief of police for the Leander Police Department, will retire May 3.
When he removes his badge for the last time, Hayes will wrap up 30 years of police experience, but he will also leave behind a legacy of artwork.
When Hayes joined LPD in 2012, he brought with him years of police experience—and an eye for design.
A self-taught artist since the age of 15, Hayes designed the department’s badges, patches, posters, vehicle designs and other graphics over the years.
“The last seven years have been the best of my career,” Hayes said. “It’s the honest to goodness truth. [Leander is] a growing community, and I’m a creative person. There was a lot of opportunity to create and innovate.”
Hayes’ law enforcement resume stretches back to 1989, when he began working for the Rollingwood Police Department. He then worked as an officer for the Austin Hospital Police Department and later spent 18 years taking on various roles in the Cedar Park Police Department before coming to Leander.
Though he previously worked as an illustrator for a gaming company, he said art became a side job for him during his police years. In his free time, he designed book covers and film posters for independent publishers and filmmakers.
He utilized his artistic talents in his police work, designing shoulder patches for the Austin, Cedar Park and Leander police departments. He has also authored several books, including “Reflections: History of the Cedar Park Police Department” in 2003 and “Retrospectus: A Photographic History of the Leander Police Department” in 2018.
After he retires, art will become his main focus. Hayes said he has landed a spot at the Gemini School of Visual Arts in Cedar Park. Through this four-year, full-time program, he will garner formal visual art training and ultimately earn a degree in visual arts and communication.
“I am admittedly nervous,” Hayes said. “I will probably be the oldest student there. That’s okay. I’m anxious to learn. I’ve never been formally trained.”
Though he is excited about the future, Hayes said he will miss the camaraderie he found in the Leander Police Department.
“One of the great things about the Leander Police Department is that it’s very family-oriented,” Hayes said. “I’m glad to have been here at a time when I can know every single officer’s name or I can walk down the hall and have a conversation with an officer. …That’s not the way it is at every department, and the bigger you get the less likely it is.”
Billy Fletcher, who has been with the Leander Police Department for 18 years, is taking on the role of assistant chief of police. Fletcher was welcomed to his new role during a badge-pinning ceremony April 18. Since 2000, Fletcher has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, sergeant over the school resource officer unit and lieutenant commander of the Criminal Investigations Division, according to city spokesperson Mike Neu.
“I’ve seen it go from a really small department to a medium-sized department,” Fletcher said. “I’m really excited about helping it grow and evolve into the next era.”
Fletcher said Hayes has been a great mentor to him over the years. Since Hayes has experience working in larger cities like Cedar Park, he was able to bring new ideas to the Leander Police Department as it grew, Fletcher said.
“I think he was really instrumental in helping us evolve as a command staff and as a department, and, in some respects, as a city,” Fletcher said.
Hayes said he is happy Fletcher is taking on this new position. He said Fletcher, along with other members of the department, will continue dealing with the city’s inevitable growth going forward.
“I’ve had so much fun in the past six-and-a-half years,” Hayes said. “It’s been a blast. Honestly, there’s so much more that’s going to happen for Leander in the next 10-15 years.”