Gonzalo Gonzalez

UTPD Chief of Police Robert Dahlstrom is retiring from law enforcement on May 31st. After his 36 years of being a police officer, Dahlstrom looks forward to spending time with his family and exploring Texas history during retirement.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

From a two-year stint in the Austin Police Department SWAT team to cleaning up gang-ridden streets in Southeast Austin in the early ‘90s, UTPD Chief Robert Dahlstrom has experienced just about all policing has to offer. On May 31, Dahlstrom will retire from law enforcement, closing out the final chapter in his 36-year-long career as a police officer. 

Dahlstrom said he is grateful to the University for giving him the opportunity to work at UTPD. He called himself “humbled” to have worked with great people in and outside the department, but also thanked his family for being supportive throughout his career.

“I think the other people I have to thank are my family for putting up with 36 years of missing family events when they really wanted me to be there,” Dahlstrom said. “36 years of not being there at night and on the evenings and weekends … I’ve missed holidays — my family’s been really good about that.”

Several of Dahlstrom’s colleagues commented on the chief’s legacy and influence on campus. 

Lt. Gonzalo Gonzalez of UTPD, a department veteran of 25 years, praised Dahlstrom for his commitment to service-oriented policing and student outreach. 

“Of all the chiefs we’ve had, Chief Dahlstrom is the guy who constantly reminds us that we’re here for the students,” Gonzalez said. “He stresses professionalism, and constantly reminds us to make connections outside the department and around the campus community.” 

Pat Clubb, vice president of University Operations, said Dahlstrom came to UT with a high degree of policing skill and competency. 

“What made [Dahlstrom] unique was that he was a proponent of self-education,” Clubb said. “He made sure each member of this campus community had the means to become educated in ways that empowered the individual to feel safe.” 

When asked what he thought was his biggest accomplishment at UTPD, Dahlstrom denied having accomplished anything on his own and praised his department. 

“I don’t think I’ve accomplished anything on my own,” Dahlstrom said. “I think the department has done a wonderful job and continues to do so everyday. For me, I’m most proud of the officers and staff at UTPD, and how much they care for the students. They do everything they can for them.” 

Dahlstrom said he hopes to spend much-needed time with his family during retirement, especially his wife and two grandchildren, Jackson and Lily. Dahlstrom has two married children who graduated from Texas A&M. Dahlstrom considers himself a history buff, especially in regard to Texas history — which he hopes to explore during retirement.  

“I’m interested in seeing how life has changed,” Dahlstrom said. “I like to see where we’ve been and how we ended up where we are now. [My wife and I] made a bucket list together. [We] really want to visit all 50 states, and see all 254 county courthouses in Texas.”

Dahlstrom said the biggest problems facing the department after he leaves will be to keep the campus community educated and preparing for new on-campus developments, like the upcoming medical school and engineering complex. 

Dahlstrom said keeping the community’s issues in mind should be the first priority for the new chief. 

“My biggest advice to the new chief would be to listen,” Dahlstrom said. “You can’t be a service organization without knowing the wants and needs of the community you work for. You have to be aware of the issues. Listen to what people have to say, and take that into account when you make any decision you make.”

Lieutenant Gonzalo Gonzalez has been with UTPD for nearly 25 years.Despite retention of police officer rates has always been low, Gonzalez still plans on giving more time to the University for as long as he can.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

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.”