When Lt. Gonzalo Gonzalez of UTPD was first employed by the University in 1981, he began as a dishwasher inside the Jester cafeteria. By the time he left the world of student dining, Gonzalez was a supervisor. His career as a police officer has played out in a similar manner.
Gonzalez, who said his life-long interest in law enforcement began when he was four years old, is approaching his 25th year with UTPD. Gonzalez said he has personal and professional ties to the University and the campus community that have solidified his affinity for university policing.
“I met my wife here and my oldest daughter graduated here ... I have a great job and I work for a great place,” Gonzalez said. “Some people want to retire from their jobs as soon as they can, not me. Not me.”
Gonzalez began as a guard at UTPD while enrolled as a student and later dropped out to attend the UT System Police Academy. He later earned a degree in criminal justice from Texas State University in San Marcos. He said his sense of loyalty, which he acquired from his father — an educator who taught in the same school district for 30 years — has kept him in the department and helped him climb the department’s ladder. Gonzalez is on his 12th year teaching at the police academy and said it is one of the best parts of his job.
“I started at the bottom, and I wanted to move up,” Gonzalez said. “I knew I wanted to make some changes, so I knew I needed to promote. God willing, I’ll promote again.”
Retention of police officers has long been an issue within the department. When asked why he has remained with the department for as long as he has, Gonzalez cited UTPD chief of police Robert Dahlstrom’s emphasis on service-oriented professionalism as a motivating force.
“That’s what I like about our department — it’s very service-oriented. Chief Dahlstrom is the third chief I’ve worked for, and I’m fixing to go into a new one,” Gonzalez said. “Of all the chiefs we’ve had, Chief Dahlstrom is the guy who constantly reminds us of that. We’re here for the students, to be professional and make connections. I just like going that extra mile.”
Dahlstrom said Gonzalez’s loyalty and commitment to the University make him invaluable to the department and his experience is a “tremendous help” in assuring the success of young officers.
“[Lt. Gonzalez] is always in a good mood, always doing what he can to help others either on campus or in the department,” Dahlstrom said. “Police work is all about helping people, and Lt. Gonzalez is all about helping people from his family, to UTPD officers to the campus and beyond.”
As Gonzalez approaches retirement, his sense of commitment to the University has only intensified. Gonzalez said he would like to extend his time at the University as long as he can.
“I can promote one more time, so I don’t plan on retiring in three years,” Gonzalez said. “I think I can give more [to the] University. If you figure ‘81 to now, I’m going on my 32nd year of employment with the University. My roots are set here.”