As freshmen charge headfirst into the college experience, UTPD’s new chief of police is prepping for the beginning of his own freshman semester at UT.
David Carter began his term at UTPD on July 1. Carter said the six weeks since then have been an “assessment” phase in which much of his time was dedicated to a meet-and-greet circuit with faculty and staff.
“I love the energy of the campus,” Carter said. “It’s a very dynamic place. In my initial perception, UTPD is well received by organizations on campus. There are a lot of things this department believes in that are in line with my own approach to community policing.”
Although Carter claims to have had no specific mandate for change upon arriving at UTPD, he said would like to see a heightened UTPD presence in West Campus, an area that is primarily the jurisdiction of the Austin Police Department.
“Although UTPD’s role is to keep campus safe, the population here fluctuates in any 24-hour period,” Carter said. “If there are crime concerns off campus, I want to make sure we can patrol in those areas. If we spot a crime trend, we can add some layer of protection immediately around the campus. I don’t want to wait for APD if they’re unavailable.”
Carter, who served as assistant police chief at APD before coming to UT, said his extensive tenure with APD will facilitate an increase in these patrols of West Campus. He said the two entities have a positive working relationship.
“It’s important for us to be dialed in with other police entities, and there are several in the vicinity,” Carter, who was with APD for 29 years, said. “To enhance our safety, we need to expand our border.”
To increase collaboration, Carter plans to to make a number of procedural and administrative changes. He plans on changing UTPD’s radio call codes to better match with other police entities in the area and training officers in crisis negotiation.
Carter said he hopes to continue the standard of transparency and community outreach established by his predecessor, former UTPD Chief Robert Dahlstrom, who retired in May after a seven-year stint as chief and 36 years in law enforcement.
“As a new chief, you take the strengths that are already there and make sure that they don’t diminish in any way,” Carter said. “My predecessor had a tremendous reputation for being accessible to students, I don’t want to diminish that at all. I want to maintain an open dialog with students and student organizations. If you want to know why a police officer acted in a certain way, let’s talk about it.”
Among Carter’s accolades are several medals for law enforcement excellence and combat spurs awarded by the United States Army 1st Cavalry Division for being engaged by enemy insurgents in Iraq.
Assistant Chief of Police Terry McMahan said he is confident Carter will continue to uphold standards of transparency and outreach.
“It’s always good to have your ears open to what students are saying. Chief Dahlstrom did an excellent job of that,” McMahan said. “I think Chief Carter will continue that. He’s a solid individual with a great reputation.”