PHOENIX, AZ (October 3, 2011) – Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery today announced the appointment of noted victims’ rights advocate John W. Gillis as the new Chief of the County Attorney’s Victim Services Division. Gillis has a distinguished career in criminal justice that includes more than two decades with the Los Angeles Police Department and seven years with the U.S. Department of Justice as the National Director, Office for Victims of Crime. He is also an active or founding member of numerous victims’ rights organizations and has been nationally recognized for his work with crime victims.
“John Gillis has dedicated his personal and professional life to serving the unique and often overlooked needs of crime victims. The citizens of Maricopa County are truly fortunate to have someone with his passion and breadth of experience working on their behalf in this critical area of our criminal justice system,” remarked Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “This is a tremendous opportunity to bolster the mission of our office to honor and protect the rights of crime victims,” he added.
John Gillis became a passionate advocate for victims’ rights after the cold-blooded murder of his 23 year-old daughter, Louarna Gillis, in January 1979 by a Los Angeles gang member seeking to “buy his way” into the Mexican Mafia by killing the daughter of a police officer. At the time, Gillis was a sergeant with the LAPD and had just completed a two year assignment with the department’s Public Disorder Intelligence Division. Shortly after his daughter’s murder, Gillis and his wife Patsy became active members of Parents of Murdered Children (POMC) and subsequently helped found Justice for Homicide Victims (JHV), the Coalition of Victims Equal Rights (COVER) and Victims and Friends United.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush honored Gillis with the National Crime Victims Service Award for his work on behalf of crime victims. Gillis also received a Special Commendation Award from former U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr and was inducted into the American Police Hall of Fame. He has served as a Commissioner on the California Board of Prison Terms, a member of the California State Bar Association’s Crime Victims and Corrections Committee, and a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Victim Committee. His efforts were instrumental in securing passage of California’s Crime Victims Initiative, Proposition 115.
In 2001, Gillis was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the National Director, Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. In this capacity, he oversaw multiple initiatives, including International Terrorism and Victim Assistance, Human Trafficking, and the Crime Victims’ Fund in all 50 states and U.S. Territories. His appointment ended with the change of Administration in January 2009.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Gillis holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from California State University at Los Angeles, and a Master of Science in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.