“I want to impact people in a different way”: How UNC Asheville police chief’s experience shapes his outlook toward the student body

By Allie Bardes, contributor

11/11/15

As soon as she smoked it, she knew it wasn’t crack cocaine.

So she whipped out a .357 and pointed it at his face.

It was a sting operation, and Eric Boyce was in the street as an undercover dealer.

But the undercover cop was lucky. He only got robbed. The convicted felon who robbed him eventually got 15 years in prison.

Boyce, UNC Asheville chief of police, said he learned a lot doing that type of work.

“I’ve always had kind of a calm, settled demeanor,” Boyce said, “and I was able to draw on some very important perspectives from life.”

He said it’s sad to see the power drugs can have over people. No sooner could he write a report for someone’s arrest than the person be right back in the street.

When Boyce started out in law enforcement, his goal was to help people.

As a rookie officer he was out beating doors, trying to get people to join the neighborhood watch.

Boyce said it took effort, but he thought about the needs of the people and got it done.

His first project on the force was to create a club, a haven for underprivileged youth in public housing. It would be a safe place for kids to do homework, watch TV, or play video games. And it was.

As he got older, he dealt with narcotics and street drugs. He said he has even been in shooting situations.

One night in Winston-Salem, Boyce said he was dispatched to a vehicular accident, where a veteran started shooting. When a fellow officer rolled up to the scene, he was shot and killed.

Boyce said that’s how a day on the force could go from normal to chaotic quickly. It can sometimes take a toll.

“We just need to manage our work and personal life,” he said. “There has to be a balance.”

Boyce said it’s important to have hobbies. He likes to golf, ride motorcycles and watch so-called “trainwreck” TV. He finds shows like The Real Housewives, Impractical Jokers, and World’s Dumbest hilarious.

Angela Young, UNCA telecommunicator supervisor, said Boyce is dependable, professional and exhibits integrity. The chief has a way of being friendly yet serious.

Striking that balance, Boyce said some mistakes should be forgiven. Young people are learning, and often learn through their mistakes. He enjoys seeing students grow.

“We try to make it a progressive disciplinary process,” Boyce said, “so you get one more chance.”

He said his favorite part of the job is interacting with students and getting to know them.

Young said the chief is always having conversations with them.

Boyce said the reward is watching their progress. He gets to see which direction they choose to take, and become who they want to be.

“I want to impact people in a different way,” Boyce said. “That’s why I joined the University Police Department.”

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