chief

Austin Police Department Police Chief Art Acevedo called for a group of public transportation, law enforcement and criminal justice officials to discuss ways to reduce DWI incidents after a drunk driver killed a pedestrian in South Austin on Saturday, according to police. 

In a press conference Monday, Acevedo said the department has reported 22 fatal crashes this year, 12 of which involved alcohol or other drugs.

“As we continue to have more bars in our city, we continue to be the No. 1 drinking city in the state of Texas, despite the fact that we are not the largest city in the state of Texas,” Acevedo said. “I’m calling for the state, the county, the city and all of our partners in transportation and in criminal justice to come together and talk about how we can do better.”

Acevedo said the city needs to explore new and improved modes of transportation, including expanded bus routes, additional taxis and overnight parking.

Acevedo said he believes people who are arrested for DWI are often treated too leniently.

“If you look around Austin, Texas, and you see how many people are killing people drunk driving, they get probation and slaps on the wrist,” Acevedo said. “Enough is enough.”

Acevedo said he hopes to hold the summit during the first two weeks of May.

The Austin Fire Department responded to reports of a underground natural gas leak at the intersection of 22nd and Guadalupe on Saturday around 1:15 p.m.

University spokeswoman Cindy Posey said AFD and other first responders asked that people avoid the area for at least three hours. The University sent out an alert saying the scene was all clear and the leak had been stopped nearly six hours later at 7 p.m.

Texas Gas Service deployed a crew to the scene to repair the leak, which was located in an underground pipe. The company monitors more than 14,000 miles of gas lines throughout the state.

AFD battalion chief Thayer Smith said gas services were turned off for both the University Baptist Church and the Church of Scientology while the leak was being repaired. The leak occurred in a gas valve, but the cause of the leak remains unknown, Smith said.

“All they know [is the leak was] on a four-inch line there on a valve,” Smith said.

Monica Ortiz, an employee of Caffe Medici, said sidewalks were initially closed off from 21st Street to 23rd Street.

According to Smith, the sidewalks surrounding the leaking valve were made accessible again around 4 p.m., though the immediate area where crews are working to fix the leaking valve remained closed off until the crews finished repairing the leak.

Smith said several hazmat crews responded to the scene to make sure surrounding buildings were not in danger. They determined the situation did not warrant any evacuations.

“Particularly on a day like [Saturday], gas dissipates very quickly, so there [was] not any hazard except for in the immediate area that we [had] blocked off,” Smith said.

Natural gas is non-toxic and colorless, and is often used to power vehicles, appliances and heating systems. 

Smith said the surrounding sidewalks were blocked off because of the high flammability of the gas.

“We have crews out there monitoring constantly to make sure the explosive limits of the area are confined,” Smith said.

Gas leaks are rare but potentially dangerous, according to the Railroad Commission of Texas.

“Whenever gas leaks from a pipe or pipe fitting, there is a possibility of fire or explosion,” the commission’s website said. “If leaking gas accumulates in a confined space, it can displace air and cause suffocation.”

David Carter will serve as the new UTPD chief of police. Carter formerly served as assistant chief of police at the Austin Police Department. 

Photo Credit: Marshall Nolen | Daily Texan Staff

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.” 

David Carter will serve as the new UTPD chief of police. Carter formerly served as assistant chief to police at the Austin Poice Department. 

Photo Credit: Marshall Nolen | Daily Texan Staff

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 trainining 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.” 

UTPD’s assistant chief of police Terry McMahan has been working for the UT System for 30 years.

Photo Credit: Louis San Miguel | Daily Texan Staff

UTPD’s assistant chief of police Terry McMahan’s extensive role appears simple on paper – assist the chief, keep the budgets balanced and coordinate – a role he has filled for 13 of his 30 years in UT System’s police force.  But McMahan said his job is constantly evolving, and with a new chief of police coming in, things look like they will continue to shift. Somethings, however, will always remain the same. 

“I think there’s been a lot of change in my career,” McMahan said. “But I think everything we need to know about staying safe we learned in kindergarten.”

McMahan said he remembers when police work was done with a pen and pencil, and when coordination between state, federal and local law enforcement agencies – a common practice in post 9/11 America –  was a rare occurrence.   

“9/11 changed law enforcement so that we communicate better with each other,” McMahan said. “Back in the old days, each law enforcement worked their own cases, and we really didn’t talk about our cases with other police entities. Nowadays, if we got something happening on the campus, it may likely be happening in the city. If we communicate better with one another, we’re able to solve crime easier.”

Similarly, changes in technology have left a lasting impact on policing, and McMahan said things like social media have boosted the need for transparency and student outreach.  

“Technology has really sky-rocketed, like in everything else,” McMahan said. “When I was on the streets, we really didn’t have in-car cameras. We didn’t have Facebook or Twitter back then either. We try really hard to put ourselves out there through that medium as well.” 

McMahan said one of UTPD’s highest priorities is student concern around campus, and said the department has taken steps to ensure their ears and doors remain open to students. 

“We’re always interested in student voices” McMahan said. “For instance, we meet with student government and try to provide them with the best information we can to help them make their decisions, and our crime prevention unit meets with a lot organizations.”

McMahan said he is confident David Carter, UTPD’s new chief of police, will continue to uphold the standards of transparency and outreach laid out by his predecessor, Robert Dahlstrom. 

“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.”

Members of student government said UTPD shows a strong presence at their assemblies, noting that high ranking officers including McMahan and Dahlstrom are often in attendance.

“We had a representative that wanted to take on the police’s stance on marijuana,” said Taylor Ragsdale, a recent graduate who majored in finance and economics. “They wanted to lower marijuana on the priority list. While that resolution was not well-received by the rest of the assembly, UTPD did have a presence at the hearing and Chief Dahlstrom gave his own opinions on the matter.” 

Other representatives say UTPD’s efforts to boost outreach and education are still an issue. 

“I think [student outreach] needs to be addressed in the upcoming years, particularly making sure that students who live off campus, especially freshman, know how to keep themselves and their property safe,” said Andrew Houston, a resident assistant and student representative for the School of Architecture. “Organizations need to ensure their members are safe and understand all the resources that are available to them. The bridge needs to be built from both sides.”

McMahan majored in math and chemistry at UT Permean Basin, and admitted he did not know what he wanted to do while in college. 

“Some people know what they want to do with their lives from the get go. I’m wasn’t one of those people,” McMahan said. “I’m not a traditional student. I was out of high school for ten years working the oil fields before I went to college.”

McMahan began his policing career as a part-time dispatcher for the UT Permean Basin police department, eventually becoming chief of police for the department, a position he held for 10 years before transferring to UTPD. McMahan said the experience he gained heading a small police department has been invaluable to the work he does within UTPD. 

“I had a chance to come to the UT system police academy,” McMahan said. “I did that thinking it would be a few extra bucks a month while I earned my degree. Eventually, I became chief of police there. The job was really challenging.” 

Dahlstrom said McMahan’s knowledge of chemistry often helped the department respond to chemically related incidents around campus. 

“I cannot count how many times we had an incident at one of the labs that Terry was able to say ‘that is really bad stuff,’ or that [it didn’t pose much of a threat],” Dahlstrom said.“Terry always came through whenever something was needed. He knows how to balance the needs of the University with the needs of the employees. His goal is to help people.”

McMahan said his time away from department centers around his sons, one of whom will be a freshman in the fall. He enjoys sports like golfing, fishing and hunting. Typically, he roots for Texas teams, though he is partial to the San Antonio Spurs and University athletics.

Follow Alberto Long on Twitter @albertolong.

Austin Police Department Assistant Chief of Police, David Carter, talks about why he deserves to be the next UTPD Chief of Police.

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Following a extensive nationwide search for a new chief of police which saw close to 75 applicants, David Carter has been appointed as the new chief of police for UTPD. 

Carter, who serves as assistant chief at the Austin Police Department, will begin his appointment on July 1. Carter will replace UTPD Chief Robert Dahlstrom, who is retiring at the end of the month after a five-year stint as chief and 36 years in law enforcement. 

Officials are confident Carter's experience, confidence and open personality will help pick up where Chief Dahlstrom left off. 

“We were in a very fortunate situation where we had four extremely qualified finalists,” said Michael Lauderdale, social work professor and chairman of the search committee, in a statement. “Chief Carter’s high level of technical and professional experience along with his knowledge of the university and its unique needs ultimately led us to this recommendation."

At a public forum last month, Carter said he will focus on creating a strong relationship between APD and UTPD so they can accomplish their two main goals — keeping the community safe and creating a community-wide perception of safety.

“Clearly there’s differences between the campus police department and the city police department, but their roles are very similar,” Carter said at the forum.

Carter said he will try to ensure police are perceived on campus as outstanding and to build trust between the community and police officers. Carter said he also plans to reach out to campus organizations.

“A challenge will be how best to approach and address those organizations, some that may want to hear from the police and some that may not want to hear from the police,” Carter said at the forum.

As part of the selection process, Carter met with President William Powers Jr. on Tuesday morning to finalize his position. 

Carter is a seasoned police officer, starting his career with APD in 1985. He advanced positions, eventually becoming chief of staff. 

Among Carter's accolades are several medals for law enforcement excelence and combat spurs awarded by the U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division for engaging enemy insurgents in Iraq. 

Patricia Clubb, vice president for University Operations, said Carter's vision will help move the department into the future. 

"Chief Carter’s vision for UTPD aligns well with the future UT-Austin,” Clubb said in a statement. “His professional accomplishments and existing relations with public safety agencies give us a great deal of confidence in his ability to meet the challenges we face as a growing institution.”

Additional reporting by Allie Kolechta.

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.”

UTPD held an open meeting with Austin Police Department assistant police chief Raul Munguia, the fourth and final candidate for its next Chief of Police this Friday, allowing students, faulty and staff the opportunity to ask questions and rate his characteristics.

Munguia, who has served as an assistant police chief for the Austin Police Department for two years, oversaw some patrols and helped plan security for large events. He said he thought one of the most important lessons from his experience with APD that he wanted to apply to UT and its police force was friendly interaction with the community.

Munguia explained that in dealing with groups like Occupy Austin, he believed APD had been more effective than other cities’ police departments because it set clear rules for the protestors and still allowed them to speak.

“We explained what was going to be allowed and what wasn’t and the fact that they’d be able to produce their signs and have their moment and get out their lesson,” Munguia said. “They were actually coming to us for ... people who were causing problems and not [with them].”

Munguia also said he thought it was going to be important to deal with UTPD’s high attrition rate among younger, lower ranking officers.

“Right now the greatest need in the department is the attrition rate,” Munguia said. “[There’s been pay increases], but it’s also how do you create a more challenging work environment.”

Munguia suggested UTPD officers could respond to alarm calls and other requests from APD radio frequencies, giving them more opportunity for variety.

Student Body Vice President Ugeo Williams, who attended the meeting, said he liked Munguia’s experience.

“I loved the fact that he has children, so he understands the safety part of a college campus,” Williams said. “I like the fact that he’s been in Austin, so he’s already probably dealt with the problems we’ve had in the past.”

Williams said he finds it important any UTPD police chief be able to deal with incidents on campus similar to ones that have recently taken place.

Associate vice president for campus safety and security Bob Harkins said with current police chief Robert Dahlstrom’s retirement at the end of this semester, the search committee for police chief, which had four finalists, will be making a recommendation to UT President William Powers Jr. shortly. 

“The atmosphere’s been positive for everybody,” Harkins said. “I think we brought four good candidates here.”

John McCandless interviews for the open UTPD chief position Tuesday. Formerly employed at the University of Miami, McCandless sets his sights on Texas to continue his career. 

Photo Credit: Marshall Nolen | Daily Texan Staff

Chief John McCandless of the Miami University Police Department says UTPD Chief of Police Robert Dahlstrom will leave big shoes after retiring this semester, but is confident in his own ability to fill them.

McCandless spoke Tuesday afternoon and is the third of four candidates to come before a public forum as a possible replacement for Chief Dahlstrom. McCandless appeared before a committee of more than 20 students and faculty members from various departments to answer questions and speak about future plans for UTPD. 

In the forum, McCandless said UTPD’s community relations impress him.

“I cannot even imagine a reason a candidate would not want this position,” McCandless said. “The relationship that the University shares with the city of Austin, specifically the police department, is an example of how much effort the city and the University put into working together.” 

McCandless also spoke on the importance of department relationships with University organizations and staff. He said his experience and accomplishments at Miami University have done a lot to prepare him for a position at a bigger university.

“I obviously come from a smaller community,” McCandless said. “But at Miami, we worked diligently to gain resources that bigger surrounding departments did not have.” 

The committee will consider both campus-wide and sector-specific concerns when evaluating candidates and their fit for UT. 

Doug Bolin, artistic director and director of operations for University Events, said one of his department’s concerns is choosing a candidate who can maintain the balance between the safety of events and their adherence to UT tradition. 

“Our office works very closely with all the safety and security offices on campus in programs that are all about a sense of a community and the culture that is unique to this institution,” Bolin said. “There are a lot of traditions, and it’s important that we uphold those while keeping our UT community safe.” 

Luis Quintero, coordinator of Student Emergency Services, said his department relies directly on UTPD for information during investigations to fulfill its duties.

“We as a department need that cooperation,” Quintero said. “Although I would have preferred some of the questions be answered more directly, [McCandless] spoke of a lot of varying experience, and some of the examples of issues he’s had experience with are very common here.” 

A series of public forums beginning Friday will feature the final four candidates for the position of University of Texas Police Department chief. The candidates will address campus concerns and discuss the future of the department. 

The forums will round out the selection committee’s process, allowing candidates to address the public before one is selected for further recommendation. The committee hopes to finalize a decision by the end of the semester. Last semester, UTPD Chief Robert Dahlstrom announced his retirement effective next month.

David Carter, Assistant Chief of the Austin Police Department, will be the first candidate to be featured in the forum. It will be held at the Avaya Auditorium at 2 p.m. 

Michael Lauderdale, chairman of the selection committee and criminal justice professor, said candidate performance at the forums will weigh heavily on the committee’s consideration and encouraged students to attend. 

“The open forum is important as we want to make the candidates available to others that are not on the various interview committees,” Lauderdale said. “How the candidates present themselves in public, respond to questions and read our community interests will be an important factor in our considerations.”

The search committee will select a finalist based on a series of qualifications unique to the police chief position, according to a committee press release. Given the University’s large infrastructure, the chief of police must demonstrate a clear sense of leadership and administrative coordination. 

Lauderdale said the chief must be enthusiastic and able to work with a diverse group of people. The chief also needs to be comfortable working with other law enforcement entities.

“This is not a sleepy college town,” Lauderdale said. “We’re a very visible campus with big-time visitors, about one to two million [visitors] per year. We need to have a chief that is respected and works collaboratively with the Austin Police Department and the Travis County Sheriff’s office as well as the Texas Department of Public safety, the DEA and FBI.”

Lauderdale said the chief of police should approach the position with the educational goals of the institution in mind, utilizing the position to further the education of students and the mission of faculty and staff at the University. The forums will help indicate whether the candidates can fulfill such requirements.

Although the committee’s recommendation will single out a final candidate, the ultimate hiring decision rests with UT President William Powers Jr.

“We will have one individual come back to meet with President Powers,” Lauderdale said. “The president’s responsibility is to see if the individual meets his criteria. Our hope is that we can have all of this done and that we have chosen a candidate by the time graduation occurs. We’d like to have some transition before Chief Dahlstrom leaves the campus.”