Rexburg’s ‘captain’ to leave police force after nearly 44 years


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Rexburg Police Capt. Randy Lewis thumbwrestling local Barry Thomson at Special Needs Picnic in Rexburg in 2016. | file photo

REXBURG — There are a lot of good memories floating around the Upper Valley about Capt. Randy Lewis.

Friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances describe Rexburg’s assistant chief of police as a man of loyalty and compassion for others. More than a few others also say Lewis’ sense of humor is something of a legend in town, and has even gotten him some viral fame.

Lewis is retiring this month after nearly 44 years on the job.

“You’ll never find a more loyal person than the captain. He’s never done this for the money,” Rexburg Police Chief Shane Turman said. “It’s about love of the job and helping people. The captain would literally give you the shirt off his back — that’s just the kind of man that he is.”

Turman describes Lewis as a true friend, and their relationship goes back some 30 years, when Lewis was his original training officer.

“He took me on the street and taught me how to become a police officer … and he hasn’t just been a co-worker or peer, he’s been a dear friend,” Turman said.

Lewis joined the force in 1975. He had just completed a year of police training at Idaho State University.

During his time at the department, Lewis has trained hundreds of officers, and been involved with all the major crime investigations in the community. He also would eventually graduate from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, in 1991.

For the last 20 years, he’s served as the public information officer for the department. In that role, he helped organize and promote many community events in the Upper Valley aimed at improving relationships between law enforcement and civilians.

“He gets that this job isn’t just about going and arresting people or giving citations,” Turman said. “We’re here to serve the community and protect people’s rights and (Lewis) gets that. He’s a man of integrity, and he’s always serving and giving.

Lewis has been an instrumental part of the Special Needs Picnic and Shop with a Cop, both annual events where Upper Valley police agencies take a break from law enforcement to get to know the children and more vulnerable members in the community.

“It’s always been fun to watch the interaction between Capt. Lewis and the young folk,” Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill said. “He’s always very kind, and he has a good sense of humor. You can tease back and forth with him and he’s always fun to be around.”

Capt. Randy Lewis helping children at 2017’s Shop with a Cop. | file photos

As a public information officer, one of Lewis’ responsibilities was dealing with media. Many members of local media organizations have fond memories of getting help and even mentoring from the veteran officer.

Former Upper Valley Standard Journal reporter Joseph Law remembers the captain as someone who always had a pithy comment or joke to put you at ease. But Lewis also never took the job lightly.

“The captain always represented the police department with a certain professionalism, but also with a flare all his own,” Law said. “I remember times when there were fatalities, and he exemplified concern for those who had been impacted. He was a good face for the police department.”

On one occasion when Lewis decided to let his sillier side out with the media, he gave a video of him trying to learn how to ride a Segway. The hilarious clip went viral and was seen all over the country in 2015.

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Overall, journalists knew Lewis was always one who could strike a good balance between the public’s right to know while still protecting the rights of the people charged with crimes.

Lewis says he’s happy with his career.

“It’s been very rewarding,” Lewis said. “I hope I have taught our younger officers a few things. I’ve learned how important compassion is in our line of work. Even though we are getting shot at and spit on and beat up, compassion is a big thing.”

To honor Lewis, the Rexburg Police Department is hosting a retirement open house on Nov. 28, from 2 to 5 p.m. The event will be at Rexburg City Hall at 35 N. First East. All are invited to attend.

Capt. Randy Lewis with a young participant in the Special Needs Picnic in 2015. | Courtesy BYU-Idaho Scroll