My name is Jacob M. Corbitt. My wife of 3 years Astrid is currently in the Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. I have a beautiful and intelligent 2 year old daughter named Rebecca.
I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and moved to Houston Texas in 1990. After graduating from high school, I joined the Army where I was an infantry paratrooper. After my discharge from the military, I attended the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) in Houston where I received an Associate in Applied Science in Automotive and Diesel Repair. I worked at various dealerships and independent shops until I began my career in law enforcement.
I graduated from the University of Texas Police Academy in 2003. I worked the patrol division until October of 2013 when I was assigned to the Galveston Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division. During my assignment with vice and narcotics, I worked closely with other police agencies and confidential informants. I was the case agent in several methamphetamine and cocaine search warrants which yielded significant amounts of narcotics. I conducted numerous prostitution stings on the streets of Galveston and the internet. These stings resulted in arrest for not only prostitution but also the promotion of prostitution. My assignment with vice and narcotics ended in November of 2014. During my assignment at GPD, I along with 8 other applicants interviewed for the position of detective with UTMB. I was chosen and moved into my new position upon my return to UTMB.
Since 2007 I have taught Defensive Tactics within our department and surrounding agencies. I wrote the ground fighting portion of the lesson plan and created scenario based dynamic training modules. I have been a Field Training Officer since 2007 and have trained approximately 20 officers. I was recently chosen to assist at the University of Texas Police Academy as an instructor for the Texas Health and Safety Code.
I have tremendous support from my family. Our jobs as police officers are not getting easier; however I have never met more professional individuals than those employed with the University of Texas Police Department. I am honored to have been chosen for this award and I am proud to be part of such an excellent team of officers at UTMB PD.
Cpl Leal was born and raised in La Villa Texas. She is the 7th child of 10 siblings. She attended Edcouch-Elsa high school. There is where she met her high school sweetheart and husband Mario. They are the parents of two children. Mario Jr. and Alysha. Cpl Leal and her husband were together for 38 years; unfortunately on December 2013 she lost her husband to a massive heart attack.
Cpl Leal has her Advanced Police Officer Certification. She had always been interested in law enforcement, so in 1996 while working a full time job, she enrolled herself to Brownsville Police Academy and attended at night. She began her law enforcement career as a reserve for a few years. In 2000, she began working with the Hidalgo County Constable Office as a Deputy Constable. While her 10 year service with the Constable Department, she broke a major burglary and car shop chop ring with help from Intel information from an informant. This lead to the take down and arrest of numerous subjects. She was very involved with several community projects: ex: Big Sister Big Brother, Say No to Drugs Speaker and the Hidalgo County Juvenile Committee. She continues to be a Big Sister. She was a motivated speaker in schools and church organizations. She takes great joy in serving her community and is always looking for opportunies in which she can assist to improve the community she serves.
Cpl Leal began her career with UT System in April 2009 at the RAHC in Harlingen Texas. She began as a patrol officer, in 2013; she was promoted to Corporal at the Harlingen Campus. She takes pride in being part of the UT System Police Department.
Cpl Leal believes in living her life as a good role model as a mother, sister, daughter, but especially as a woman. She credits her parents for being the person she is today, a compassionate and helpful person to everyone she interacts with.
Corporal Robert Major was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. He grew up hunting, fishing and camping, which he still enjoys today. He is married and has three children, two eight year old girls and in 2013 his family adopted a baby boy. He attended UTSA and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from UTSA in 2007.
He started his career with the UTSA Police Department in 2006 as a Public Safety Officer. In 2008 he attended the UTSA System Police Academy and was assigned to night shift patrol officer. He has worked nights for the last six and a half years. He was promoted to Corporal on night shift at the beginning of 2014. Corporal Major’s training and skills led him to focus on alcohol and drug related offenses and casework. Corporal Major has consistently been one of the leaders of the UTSA Police Department in enforcement of DWI, alcohol, and drug related offenses.
While at the UTSA Police Department he was recommended to become a Drug Recognition Expert and he has been a certified DRE for the last four years. He is an ALERRT Instructor, SFST Instructor, and TCOLE Instructor. He is also a member of the bike patrol. He has instructed the Health and Safety Code at the UT System Police Academy for the last two years.
In 2012 and 2014, he was selected as a recipient of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Enforcement Hero Award, which is presented to a select few Officers from around the region and State of Texas for their efforts in enforcing the DWI and DUI laws and removing intoxicated drivers from behind the wheel, which prevents countless tragedies every year.
In 2013 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by UT System Police Director Heidingsfield.
Officer Rask has been with the UT Police System for approximately six years. He is a member of the System Rapid Response Team, Bike Patrol, Special Response Team, Honor Guard, Counter Assault Strike Team, and is a Rape Aggression Defense Instructor and Hostage Negotiator. He takes pride in his work with UTPD and always gives 100% in every task. His goal each day when he starts a shift is to make a difference in at least one person’s life. In these efforts, he has won two life saving awards.
Rask was born and raised in the mountains of western North Carolina, and later moved to Alabama where he finished high school and attended the University of Montevallo. He opened a gym and personal training studio while he attended the Jefferson County Sheriffs Academy. He worked as a police officer in Alabama, and later spent some time living abroad in Perth, Australia, before moving to his new home in Austin, Texas.
In his spare time, Officer Rask enjoys shark fishing and conservation, working on cars, and spending time outdoors with his wife, daughter, and son. He has a passion for protecting animals and people and loves to do so in all aspects of life.
I appreciate the opportunity to be recognized as the University of Texas System Police Officer of the Month for November 2014. I am currently serving within our System as a Detective at UT Arlington. I hold a Master Peace Officer Certification and assist within our campus community as a Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) and First Aid/CPR/AED instructor.
I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts relating to the importance of developing an effective, victim-centered approach to address violent crimes against women. This effort is part of the expanded focus in cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking comprised within The Violence Against Women Act. This emphasis encourages peace officers and investigators to center their efforts on the individual victim while using all the local and national victim services and resources that are available.
Many of the victims we encounter are young women who are just beginning their life as students in a residential university environment. When I first started to investigate violent crimes involving these young victims, I thought, “How am I ever going to form a connection here?” I could never even imagine the complexity of concerns that accompany being a young woman that has become the victim of a violent crime. So I began to invest some time to establish a rapport with a victim by connecting to an interest they are willing to share that is not related to the crime they experienced. This small act of consideration helped set up a positive environment of trust and has proved invaluable in easing a victim’s anxiety.
I remind myself to never show indifference to any victim. Victims respond to the stress of a violent crime in many different ways. Some responses may seem unreasonable at first, but if I remove myself from all personal opinions and examine their reaction further, I usually find a reason for some of the most unexplainable behavior. I recall an acquaintance sexual assault case where the defendant used the common scheme of immediately sending text messages to the victim to try and see how she reacted to his attack. The victim responded with text messages and he maneuvered the communication to sound like she wanted a relationship with him. Further conversation with the victim revealed that the text messages were sent while she was in a state of shock following the trauma she experienced as well as being manipulated by a person taking advantage of her condition. Together, we developed an explainable reason for the content of her text message communication that may have otherwise seemed like deception on her part.
Sometimes patience and persistence is an asset in our position. I remember a case where a victim finally called the police after she had been stalked for years by the same individual. She was hesitant to pursue criminal charges even after the stalker set a UPS box outside her door and knocked, luring her to open the door where he restrained and assaulted her inside her apartment. But I continued to communicate with her and explain that we were in a position now to finally work toward a resolution that could reduce or even remove her anxiety and fear of this individual. I remember after the criminal case was submitted for prosecution, she thanked me for remaining patient with her and following through with our efforts to make this stressful situation end for her.
These are just a few thoughts and experiences that I wanted to share. In our capacity as serving as peace officers and investigators, we deal with many cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. But I will always remember that a victim of violence is experiencing the crime from another perspective, one that is usually life altering and deserves our full support and consideration.
John Seth Morrison
UT Arlington PD, CID
Lieutenant Diego N. Mata was born and raised in Edinburg, Texas. Upon completing high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and graduated from Ft. Benning, GA as the Distinguished Honor Graduate for his Company and earned the title of “Infantryman”. He later pursued a Criminal Justice Degree from the University of Texas- Pan American and received his Baccalaureate Degree in 2001 with a major in Criminal Justice and minor in Military Science.
In 2001, he was activated in wake of the 09/11 terrorist attacks and was mobilized for “Operation Noble Eagle” for one year and conducted a Force Protection mission within the continental US.
In 2003, LT Mata was accepted into the UTSP Academy and at the same time attended the U.S. Army’s Officer Candidate School (OCS).
In 2003, LT Mata graduated from the Police Academy and was assigned as a Patrol Officer for the University of Texas- Pan American Police Department.
In 2004, LT Mata received his Commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps.
LT Mata was assigned to the 236th Military Police Company (MP CO) as a Platoon Leader and in 2005 completed the Military Police Officer’s Basic Course in Ft. Leonard Wood, MO.
In 2006, LT Mata was assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division of the UTPA Police Department.
In 2008, LT Mata was activated with the 236th MP CO, deployed to Iraq and served as the Executive Officer for his Company that was responsible for the training and mentoring of all Iraqi Police in the Cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.
LT Mata retuned from his tour of duty in 2009 and was nominated by his peers as the UTPA PD Officer of the Year.
In 2011, LT Mata became a member of the UT System Rapid Response Team. LT Mata is currently serving as the Asst. Team Leader of the Rio Grande Valley Squad. He has since been deployed to several real world deployments throughout the State to include a multi-agency rescue operation that freed several underage females that were being sexually assaulted and were destined to enter the sex trafficking trade.
In summer of 2012, LT Mata was activated with Joint Task Force 136, deployed to Afghanistan and served as a member of the Police Advisory Team that trained and mentored more than 3,500 Afghan Uniformed Police in the City of Kabul with a population of over 6 million people.
LT Mata holds a Master Peace Officer License, Basic SWAT Certification, Interview and Interrogation Certification, Instructor Certification, Criminal Investigator Course, Crime Scene Investigation Course, Internal Affairs, and FBI LEEDA Supervisor’s course.
LT Mata’s military awards include: (2)Bronze Star Medals (Iraq/Afghanistan); Iraq Campaign Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Army Commendation Medal (2nd Award); Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award); Army Reserve Component Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Expert Marksmanship Medal, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge and Global War on Terrorism Medal.
Lt. Mata currently serves as a Captain in the Texas Army National Guard and is assigned to Joint Task Force 136, the Homeland Response Force for FEMA Region 6. Their mission is providing the initial military assets in the event of a terrorist attack on other catastrophic event.
I am originally from a very small town located in Michigan and I moved to Texas in June of 2006 after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional and Technical Writing and Communication from Saginaw Valley State University. I began my law enforcement career in June of 2009 with the University of Texas at Dallas Police Department and attended the UT System Academy. I graduated from the academy in December of 2009 and began my field training on deep nights, where I stayed for over three years. In February 2012, I completed my training and obtained my Intermediate Peace Officer License. In September 2012, I received a promotion and became a corporal, which involved supervising the evening shift patrol officers and public safety officers when the sergeant was unavailable. In November of 2012, I was nominated by my fellow officers and supervisors and was awarded the honor of receiving the Officer of the Year award. In February of 2013, I entered the Criminal Investigations Division as a detective and have been developing the skills of an investigator. I recently took the Sergeant Promotion exam (and passed!) and I look forward to enhancing my career to an even higher level. I am also excited to help train the next officer assigned to CID so I can pass on all the knowledge I have obtained.
Being in law enforcement is highly rewarding, yet stressful at times. There are many days were I absolutely love my job and feel like I’ve made a difference in someone’s life. Then there are the other types of days where I have to go back and remember why I chose this profession. On those days, I read an essay I wrote during my initial days of field training. This is what I wrote:
Why Do I Want to be a Police Officer?
All my life, I’ve been surrounded by people who want to do things to help other people – my hometown community, my church, my family, and my friends. When I was in high school my track coach was our school’s resource officer. His attitude toward the students and his strive for wanting to help people was something that inspired me to pursue a field in public service. My church held prayers groups, had food drives, and collected clothes for those in need, which inspired me to do the same. My mother has been a nurse all my life and has played a role in saving countless lives. She has shown me what a great fulfillment it is to make a difference in a strangers’ life.
By becoming a police officer I hope I can do my part to make a difference in someone’s life, even if it is only to make a difference in one person’s life. I want to protect innocent people who need protection from criminals and protect those who need protection from themselves. I want to feel as if I am giving back to my community. I want to feel as if I am doing my part to make this world a safer place. There are some things that everyday people should not have to see or deal with. I am willing to see and deal with these things so other people don’t have to be effected.
This job allows me to meet new people every single day – I get to meet people from an abundance of different ages, cultures, races, ethnic groups, and backgrounds. By meeting new people and listening to them, I believe I will become a more rounded person and a better police officer. I get to hear people’s personal stories and see what they’ve gone through. I get to be a counselor, a friend, a mentor, and a role model for the people I interact with on a daily basis.
This line of work can be fun and exciting if you’re willing to find something to get into. One minute it can be quiet with nothing going on and the next minute can be pure chaos. A loud noise call can be turned into minors drinking. A simple traffic stop can be turned into a drug bust or a warrant for someone’s arrest. In addition, a traffic stop could be me saving someone’s life, such as taking a DWI off the street.
Another aspect of policing that is important to me is physical fitness. When I was preparing myself to make a commitment toward this profession I found myself at the gym five to six times a week working to meet my goals of fitness. I know that I must constantly remain physically fit to successfully fulfill the requirements of my job. My level of physical fitness could help save the lives of other officers, citizens, and even myself. I believe staying physically fit also helps with my mental stability and stress levels, which contributes to my overall health and well-being.
There are many reasons why I became a police officer. I have told you some of these reasons, but not all of them can be put into words. However, they can be shown in my dedication to this profession and my desire of learning everything I can from senior officers. I will constantly strive to fulfill my responsibilities and be the best I can be. It is a privilege to be a police officer and not everyone can do this job.
I feel lucky that I have been chosen and trusted to be in such a rewarding profession.
Officer Robert Trimyer has been married to his College sweetheart Jessica for more than ten years. He received his Bachelor Science in Recreational Administration from Southwest Texas State University and holds a Master Peace Offcier Certificate. He is a TCOLE Instructor, Firearms Instructor, TASER Instructor, O.C. Pepper Spray Instructor, Patrol Rifle Instructor, ALERRT Instructor, Mobile Video Instructor, Semunitions Instructor, and ASP Instructor.
Officer Trimyer has been with UT Health Science Center at San Antonio sine October 2008 and currently leads the department’s Training and Recruiting Division.
As the Training Division head Officer Trimyer has provided over 30 certified courses this past year to departmental employees and other regional law enforcement partners from all corners of the state. HSCSA department personnel have also received over 2,480 hours of training at little or no cost, by utilizing the department’s own certified instructors to teach the curriculum.
Additionally, the department has been able to provide department personnel and regional police agencies with several ALERRT courses at the TRP Facility.
Officer Trimyer’s strong partnerships with outside agencies have allowed the department to provide quality training with the majority of the training available at no cost or low cost to the department. In addition to providing the highest level of training, Officer Trimyer has been able to secure the donations of over $10,000 in free training and police related equipment.
More than 300 officers representing over 50 agencies from the State of Texas have been able to attend training located at the UTHSCSA in the following areas;
•Patrol Rifle Instructor and AR-15 Patrol Rifle Armorer
•ASP Baton instructor
•Field Training Officer
•GEO cell tracking
•Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFTST)
•Rape Aggression Defense Instructor (RAD)
•Reid Technique Interviewing and Interrogation
•Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)
Officer Carolina Villarreal was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. Her parents are Ruben D. Villarreal Jr. and Patricia Villarreal. Villarreal's father served the City of Laredo International Bridge System for 25 years where she constantly observed local and federal officers around her father's workplace. Villarreal admired public service from that and knew she would dedicate herself in the profession.
Villarreal graduated high school from United HS and moved to San Marcos, Tx to attend Texas State University. Villarreal received a BA degree in Spanish with a minor in music.
After college Villarreal dedicated some time to the Texas State Guard and was employed by the City of Lockhart as a 911 Communications Operator. While working full time at the City of Lockhart, she worked on receiving her Basic Peace Officer license at San Antonio Colleges. During that time, Villarreal found a job posting from UT- Austin Police Department and decided to apply. Villarreal was fortunate to be offered a position as a Police Cadet and attend the 94th Basic Peace Officer Course Academy by UT System Police. Villarreal graduated from the academy 5 months later, receiving the Physical Fitness award and the Top Cadet award.
Villarreal has been with UTPD for 1.5 years and a commissioned Officer for 1 year. She has received her Intermediate Peace Officer education. Villarreal has attended the Rape Aggression Defense Instructor school and plans to attend as many training courses she can including bike school in order to diversify her professional portfolio and better serve the UT System. Villarreal was recently selected to assist as a Rape Aggression Defense Instructor and Intermediate Spanish Instructor. Villarreal intends to promote with the UT System Police Department.
When off duty, Villarreal spends most of her time enjoying the company of her family. She enjoys cooking, running, hiking, exploring Central Texas, and finding local hole-in-the-wall eateries.
Lieutenant Trevino started his commitment to public service by enlisting in the U.S. Army as an Infantryman. He was first assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division stationed in Germany and subsequently deployed to Macedonia as part of a United Nations Peace Keeping Mission. While in Macedonia, he was assigned as a Rifleman for his Infantry Platoon and served on the Quick Reaction Force (QRF). While on QRF, he participated in several training exercises where his squad boarded Blackhawk Helicopters and made their way along the border in support of military operations.
Lt. Trevino was next assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of a NATO Peace Keeping Mission. While on deployment, he conducted mounted and dismounted patrols in and around the town of Brcko. He served as a Radio Telephone Operator (RTO) and as a Squad Automatic Weapon Gunner for his Infantry Platoon. His Platoon was responsible for capturing and detaining several Bosnia Rebels along with their weapons and munitions. His unit also enforced riot control procedures when confronted with an unruly mob after weapons were seized from a Bosnian Muslim cantonment site in the town of Celic.
He successfully completed the 72nd UTSP Academy in December 2001. In August 2002, his Army Reserve Unit was activated in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and ordered to report to the 528th Special Operations Support Command Unit. Shortly thereafter, he was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While in Iraq he conducted convoy security operations for Special Operation Units. Lt. Trevino completed his deployment and returned to the UT Brownsville PD in September 2003.
Lt. Treviño received his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information Systems, has a Master Peace Officer License, and holds several Instructor certifications. These include a TCLEOSE Firearms Instructor and FLETC Reactive Shooting Instructor. He has attended various Law Enforcement and Military training courses throughout his career, which includes the Basic SWAT Operator Course and the DPS Advanced Special Response Team Operator Course. He also completed the Precision/Sniper Rifle Operator course, where he received the title of Top Shooter.
He has been a member of the UT System Rapid Response Team (SRRT) since its inception in 2011. While on SRRT, Lt. Treviño has served in several capacities to include Designated Marksman, Assistant Team Leader, and has recently been appointed as Team Leader of the Rio Grande Valley Squad. He has since been deployed on several occasions in support of SRRT Operations around the State.
He is a big proponent of training. “I am a firm believer that you need progressive training in all facets of your career. What got you here won’t get you there. It is important to build on and improve your skillset. It is just as important to pass on this knowledge to your fellow Officers. Prepare yourself, Prepare others, and Lead!”
Lt. Treviño enjoys spending time with his wife Annabel, family, and friends. His hobbies include fishing, weightlifting, and time on the firing range.
Officer John Armstead started in law enforcement in 1990 with the United States Army as a Military Policeman after serving fours years as a Communication Specialist. He attended and graduated the Army’s leadership courses to include the Advanced Noncommissioned Officer’s Course for leadership and management development. He served two combat tours during his tenure and served in various leadership positions receiving numerous recognition awards for leadership, achievement, and valor. He has performed joint law enforcement operations with the Korean, German, and Panamanian National Police to include the United Nations during the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict. He was instrumental in establishing a 911 emergency response service between the fire department, ambulance service and military police for the military community of Hohenfel, Germany. He retired after serving 20 honorable years of service.
He joined the University of Texas Police Department at Houston in 2007 where he serves as a patrolman for the Operations Division. He has received his Advance Peace Officer’s certification, Basic TCOLE Instructor certification, ALERRT Instructor, Dignitary Protection Course, Special Weapons and Tactical Operator training (SWAT) with the Southern Methodist University Police Department, Reactive Shooting Instructor, Basic and Advance Special Response Team Training with the Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers Division and a current member of the UT System’s Special Response and Reaction Team.
Officer Armstead has instructed officers throughout UT System’s campuses including the UT System’s Police Academy in ALERRT receiving numerous awards and recognition for his performance. He has received recognition awards for assisting with the Professional Development training classes for Arrest & Control Techniques (ACT), and the Patrol Rifle class. In addition, he has received recognition as a Field Training Officer for Report Writing Classes and Capstone Exercises for his department.
He has served as a member of the tactical response team for Governor Rick Perry’s visit to the UT Brownsville and Pan American campuses and assisted Vice President Biden’s protection team during his visit to MD Anderson Cancer Center. He has participated in joint training with Houston Police Department SWAT, FBI SWAT, and the U.S. Army’s Delta Force.
Officer Armstead continues his professional development by attending training courses and maintaining professional memberships in recognized organizations like the Texas Tactical Police Officer’s Association (TTPOA) and the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT). He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration.
Officer Armstead continues his passion for law enforcement by passing on his knowledge and experience to other officers through training and guidance. Experience and knowledge serves no purpose if it is not passed on to others. A good day is when no one gets hurt and everyone goes home. We as police officers sometimes forget how we can change the life of a person in an instant with the decisions we make. We have the opportunity to change someone’s life so why not do it in a positive way, if possible. “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:5, 7)
Officer Gordon Firth is originally from Long Island New York and has lived in seven different states during his lifetime. Now he is very happy to call Texas his home. Similarly Officer Firth’s law enforcement career has progressed through the last twenty years with seven different departments in three different states and even a foreign country.
Officer Firth started his career in the City of East Point, Georgia in 1994. Officer Firth quickly found he had a knack for locating DWI drivers and this lead to his assignment with the DWI task force under a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Officer Firth was also a founding member of the Metro Atlanta Traffic Enforcement Network which was created to improve highway safety communication between agencies, provided traffic enforcement training, and worked to build a comprehensive statewide traffic enforcement team.
Officer Firth continued his work in traffic safety as he moved to other agencies in metro Atlanta. The best assignment he had was to the motor unit where he was lucky enough to be paid to ride a motorcycle!
After working as a Trooper for the Georgia State Patrol, Officer Firth was hired by the City of Austell. In Austell Officer Firth attained his Instructor Certificate, Speed Detection Device Instructor, SFST Instructor, and Firearms Instructor. This allowed Officer Firth to teach at the local police academy and host training classes at his department.
Officer Firth progressed through the ranks in Austell to the position of Patrol Division Commander. In this position Officer Firth worked to develop policy, RMS and CAD system administration, attain State Accreditation, recruit, serve as departmental training officer, monitor records management and command the Special Response Team and manage the uniform division.
The opportunity arose for Officer Firth to help develop the Afghan National Police. He was hired to work the Afghan Civilian Advisory Support mission under the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. Officer Firth spent four years mentoring and training Afghan Police in “rule of law” policing as well as to assist with managing all the training academies in the country. At the completion of his mission in Afghanistan, Officer Firth was hired by the UTSP and is assigned to the UT Dallas campus.
Over the years Officer Firth has been a part of the Centennial Olympics, the G-8 Summit, presidential motorcades, births, deaths, car chases, shootings, and international policing. Officer Firth believes that a career in law enforcement is a career with a broad spectrum of opportunities and experiences to share with others. As a UTSP officer, he is excited to have yet another opportunity to experience new things and share his own experiences with others.
I was born in Houston, Texas and am the older of two children. In 2008 I graduated from J Frank Dobie High School in Houston, Tx. While in high school I had my first ride along with Sgt. Steve Guerra with the Houston Police Department and I knew after that I wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. After high school I attended San Jacinto College to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice.
Words of encouragement from my dad and aunt, who works for City of Pasadena Marshals Office, who sparked my enthusiasm to honor and protect our citizens. I completed the basic peace officer law enforcement academy at the University of Houston downtown in August 2011 and began my law enforcement career in 2012 with the UT System Police at the UT Health Northeast Campus in Tyler, Texas. I am learning as much as I can and am working to become a Field Training officer within the organization teaching future cadets and continuing my education working to obtain my intermediate certificate.
My hobbies include going to the shooting range with my dad, movie nights and spending quality time with family. I am extremely passionate about my job and honored to be part of the UT System Police and the UT Health Northeast Police Dept.
I was born and raised in the caribbean island of Puerto Rico, where I lived until 1999. I moved with my immediate family to Texas, where I completed a degree in Computer Network Administration. On my personal side, I love astronomy, Formula 1 racing, motorcycles, flying helicopters, Sci Fi shows/movies and am a fervent opponent of breed specific legislation. I have two pit-bulls which I love as family.
My career with UT System begun in 2005 as a Public Safety Officer at UT Arlington after several retail jobs. Following a year working as a PSO and FTO, I attended and graduated from the UT System Academy's 81st BTS. I earned the Advanced TCOLE license in 2012 and am now assigned to Patrol, First Shift as Acting Sergeant.
I have been fortunate to have flexible supervisors who supported me in volunteering to assist UTMB through the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008, UT Brownsville during the campus' bifurcation from Texas Southernmost College and the opening of George W. Bush Library at SMU in 2013.
I started a career in law enforcement with a strong drive to make a difference and help others, which I had always enjoyed doing in my personal life. To that end, I have worked with many departments at UTA to facilitate bicycle registration drives, give presentations on Alcohol Awareness/ Sex Assault and spoken to youth groups for the Upper Bound program. Recently, UT Arlington implemented a Geographical Policing model, which further foments long term professional relationships with business leaders in one's assigned district.
Through close contact with the community I have come to see how much more impact alternate patrol vehicles can have with the community. It was one such random positive contact with an indigent while I was in bike patrol that led me to follow up on allegations of an organized group of individuals that were stealing textbooks from our Central Library. As a result of that random positive contact, an operation was successful carried out and an arrest was made. This is why I treat everyone with dignity and respect. At the end of the day, everyone that we come into contact potentially plays their own role in helping us keep the campus safe and secured.
On November 2013, I was honored with the UT System Police Distinguished Service Award for responding to an off-duty call at my apartment complex where I work as the Courtesy Officer. A suspect had broken into an apartment, and committed the offenses of Burglary and Sex Assault of a child. The suspect was located near the scene not long after and taken into custody. THAT sense of help to the community felt during the incident was in fact, exactly what drove me to start this career 9 years ago. It has been a pretty amazing journey and I'm eternally grateful for all of the opportunities I have come across throughout my career and all of the talented individuals that have helped me all these years.
Officer Robert DeRohn began his law enforcement career with the University of Texas at San Antonio Police Department in 2011. Prior to working for UTSA he was medically retired after 12 years of service in the U.S. Army after being wounded by an improvised explosive device on his third tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Officer DeRohn currently works patrol for the midnight shift.
Officer DeRohn is a certified ALERRT Level I, II, and Low-Light Instructor. His other accomplishments include TCOLE Basic and Firearms instructor. He has assisted with several classes on active shooter response at the UTSP Academy and training within his department and other agencies.
Officer DeRohn was selected as a team leader for the UT System Rapid Response Team (SRRT) San Antonio squad in 2011 when it was founded. He has completed the San Antonio Police Department Basic SWAT Course receiving the top team award and also attended the Travis County Sheriff’s Office Basic SWAT Course along with his squad to promote team cohesion. Robert has also completed the TTPOA Advance SWAT course, Texas DPS SWAT Advance SRT Course and Fast Rope Insertion Qualification as well as training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) along with numerous other courses in both law enforcement and military.
“I am a firm believer that we should lead by example. Physical, mental fitness, technical and tactical proficiency should be individual responsibilities. As you further your career and assume that leadership role, ‘lead by example’, accept those responsibilities as there is no room for excuses. Ego’s should be checked at the door and don’t depend on being judged on what you used to do but what you can accomplish today. Learning is a never ending process and knowledge passed and given should always be valued no matter how small. I am honored to be part of the UTSP as we progress on being the best that we can be. To get that mission accomplished, always do your part and don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one knows everything; we all need that outside view sometimes.
Be responsible for not only what you do but also what you fail to do. Always expect that someone in your corner, always look for work.” – R. DeRohn
When We Have Done Our Share
“When young men seek to be like you, when lazy men resent you, when powerful men look over their shoulder at you, when cowardly men plot behind your back, when corrupt men wish you were gone and evil men want you dead…Only then will you have done your share.” – Phil Messina
Kevin Gray moved from Canada to Houston in 2002 and started his law enforcement career with the University of Texas at Houston in the summer or 2003. He has two Bachelor of Science degrees, one in Athletic training, the other in Physical Education, both from Lincoln Memorial University.
Kevin is a TCOLE Master Peace Officer, promoted to Sergeant in 2006 and is currently assigned as the Crime Mitigation Sergeant. As the Crime Mitigation Sergeant, Kevin has had great success with the development of safety presentations for both MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Health Science Center concerning such topics as Workplace Violence, Domestic Violence, Hostile Intruder/Active Shooter, Id Theft, and Travel Safety. He and his team, over the past 5 years, have instructed to over 7000 employees and students.
He is a certified TCOLE instructor for ALERRT-Response to Active Shooter, ASP Baton, Handcuffing and firearms. Kevin first attended Level 1 ALERRT School in 2005 and earned his ALERRT Instructor Certification in December 2009. Kevin has instructed for UT Police at Houston ALERRT Refresher courses III, IV and V helping train all UT Police commissioned officers and other police officers from several Houston area police departments.
Kevin is a member of the UT Police At Houston Rapid Threat Assessment Team. He also sits on both the MD Anderson Cancer Center and UTHealth Workplace Violence/Behavioral Intervention Teams and has successfully completed the Gavin DeBecker Threat Assessment Academy, the NCIS Threat Assessment Academy and Terrorism & Homeland Security by TEEX. With a 300% increase in threats across the Houston institutions during the past 2 years, his training has enabled him to help the teams develop the appropriate rapid response protocols and threat assessments to these threats.
He is also a member of the UT System and Houston Rapid Response Teams and has successfully completed a basic SWAT Operators course at SMU and Advanced SWAT Operators course through the Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers. Kevin has been part of several SRRT Operations throughout the State of Texas helping support other UT campuses.
Kevin recently competed in the 2013 Chancellor’s Trophy Pistol Match along with fellow officer Carlos Guzman, finishing 1st overall in the team competition.
“Looking back on any career, there will be success and failure, both of which help sculpt and mold who you are as a professional. However the more integral part of career development is having the proper guidance during both the successes and failures, and on occasion, when recognized as an individual you can most certainly look back and find a team that helped you get to where you are. For me, it started at the academy – Inspector Raff, field training and instructors– Lt. W. Smith, Lt. Redmond, Sgt. Barnwell, Officer Asberry, Ofc. Reveles. My supervisors from patrol and the availability of the command staff all the way to the Chief Adcox and Assistant Chief McGregor. Co-workers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, as well as the Inspectors and Directors at ODOP, all have been willing to guide, correct, teach, encourage and support; it is very much appreciated” - Kevin Gray
One can easily judge the character of a person by the way they treat people who can do nothing for them. – Proverb
“…I firmly believe that any man's finest hour -- his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear -- is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious." - Coach Vincent T. Lombardi
Sergeant Bonnet’s current duties span a variety of technical and tactical areas. He supervises the Crime Prevention Unit and Criminal Investigations Unit, which includes a detective assigned full time to the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Sergeant Bonnet is also responsible for the Department’s Evidence Room, is the Intelligence Officer, the System Rapid Response Team Squad Leader, a squad leader on the Special Response Team, and sits on the Policy, Training, and Equipment Committees. He is a member of the Threat Assessment Team and Behavior Assessment Team, which are multi-discipline teams made up of faculty and staff from a diverse cross section of the University with the purpose of addressing potentially volatile and threatening situations. Sergeant Bonnet is a TCLEOSE Instructor, a certified Firearms Instructor (patrol rifle and pistol), a FLETC certified Reactive Shooting Instructor, a certified ALERRT Instructor, a Simunitions Instructor, an Advanced Rape Aggression Defense Instructor, a Glock Armorer, and has taught a variety of classes at UTPD including Intermediate Use of Force, basic criminal investigations, patrol tactics, and basic evidence collection.
An area Sergeant Bonnet believes is essential to law enforcement now and moving forward is threat assessment and mitigation. He has worked to increase the level of involvement between UTPD and both of the University’s Assessment Teams. Through strengthening the already established relationships, Sergeant Bonnet has kept UTPD in the forefront of threat assessment on college campuses in this country. A recent breakthrough for the University is the creation of a new position within the Office of the Dean of Students of a “UTPD Liaison” from Student Emergency Services. This position works part time at the Dean of Students and part time at a desk in CIU. This greatly enhances communication flow and cooperation, both of which are absolutely critical to assisting students in crisis. Sergeant Bonnet has also worked to build rapport and information sharing between UTPD and regional law enforcement agencies, by bringing the Austin Regional Intelligence Center and the University’s assessment teams together. As we should have learned from the Aurora, Colorado tragedy, the problem does not go away just because a person of concern leaves school. Ensuring the essential information is being shared is no easy task in this landscape of open records requests, FERPA, HIPAA, 28 CFR Part 23, and numerous other rules/regulations. However, our communities rightfully require us to do just that. It is incumbent on every police department in this country to understand and work within legal parameters to keep the citizenry safe.
Bobby Lane has been a state certified law enforcement officer since his commission of March 16, 1988. Bobby received his Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science from Wayland Baptist University and is seeking his Masters in Public Administration.
Bobby has been employed with the University of Texas at San Antonio since February 2011 and currently is working as a Detective. Bobby assists with planning for department exercises, instructs firearms, and mobile field force tactics.
Prior to his employment with the University of Texas at San Antonio, Bobby was employed with and retired from the City of El Paso Police Department and held the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a Master Peace Officer certificate and a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education Instructor certificate. He holds instructor certificates in Firearms, Police Tactics, National Incident Management System, and has instructed for many local, state, and Federal agencies.
During Bobby’s service with El Paso, he commanded several specialized units within the Department. The units that were under his command were the Bomb Squad, SWAT team, K-9 unit, Aviation unit, Dignitary Protection Unit, Office of Emergency Management, CID, TAC, Crime Prevention Unit, traffic and the City Metro Unit. His responsibilities included planning and organizing major events such as Presidential visits, parades, and disaster preparations. Other duties included riot control and training of officers to respond to these situations. Many events required Bobby to coordinate with other agencies and organizations.
Bobby believes in an open communication with administration which is important for the success of the organization.
I grew up in Austin but I am originally from San Antonio, Texas. My family moved here when my Dad accepted an Inspector Position with UT System after working as a Sergeant for UT Health Science Center in San Antonio. I worked various retail positions, mainly jewelry sales, while I attended college at Southwest Texas University. I always knew I wanted to be a Police Officer, specifically work for the US Marshalls. However, while testing for Federal Positions I met the SAC for the Secret Service and she encouraged me to apply as a Secret Service Agent. If anyone has applied for a federal position you know it takes FOREVER. The Chief for UT Austin asked me to apply as a cadet “while waiting” for the Secret Service. Little did I know how my life would change. When I walked in to the psychological testing I saw one of the most handsome men sitting several rows back. When UT Recruiter, Sgt. Moore later called me with a job offer at UT I took it. On my first day of work I met that handsome cadet applicant, Greg Davis, and we later married. That Fall the Secret Service called me with an Academy date, but our first of three sons was on the way. I don’t regret staying at UT, the last fourteen years have been exciting. I am an instructor for firearms, cultural diversity and the RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) Self-Defense System. I also serve as the RAD State Director for Texas.
I have worked in patrol, crime prevention, and I am currently assigned as the Recruiting Sergeant for our department. I process all applications for security guards, cadets and police officers. I am always looking for ways to improve our hiring process while increasing our applicant pool and hiring the best candidates. I explain to applicants they do not have to have a criminal justice background to be a great officer, they simply have to be able to communicate well with people.
I have been awarded Supervisor or the Year, SLICE Award and the Distinguished Service Award. I was also featured in UT Austin’s Staff Spotlight on Know Events. I also created the tagline “As Diverse as Our Campus as Unique as You” which is used on our police website, presentations and in our print media. Some of my most memorable assignments have been getting to turn the orange lights on the UT Tower the night of the National Championship in 2005, working with the security for Chuck Norris, meeting First Lady Laura Bush and working the Democratic Presidential Debate between Hillary Clinton and President Obama. One of my cherished moments was when my niece told my sister she wanted to grow up and be a police officer just like her Aunt Laura.
My husband left UT and is now the Lieutenant for the Physical Fitness Unit at DPS. My Dad went on to be the Chief of Police for LCRA where he retired after 15 years. My three sons have participated in the radKids program, volunteered for stadium clean-up, and distributed gifts on Christmas Morning with Orange Santa.
I grew up around first responders, family members and family friends. I’ve sort of followed in my sisters footsteps who has worked as a municipal police officer, a deputy sheriff, a registered nurse and a paramedic.
Prior to beginning my career with UTPD I worked as a fleet manager, a draftsman, in property management and as an EMT in a Shreveport, Louisiana emergency department.
I began my career with UTPD Austin in January of 1999 and graduated from the 67th BTS. I’ve always tried to be an active member of my department and have served on several specialized units.
- Bike Patrol
- Training Officer
- Honor Guard
- Started our K-9 Unit in 2002 with Bomb/Patrol canine Robby
- Currently work Bomb/Patrol canine Spike
I recently completed an EMT-Basic school and intend to go on to get my paramedic license. I would like to attend a K-9 trainers course and encourage the expansion of K-9 to other UT components.
Since beginning the K-9 Unit I have always enjoyed taking the dogs “on tour”, walking around campus, visiting offices and doing presentations. It isn’t unusual for me to return to my car after a call and find notes, sometimes several, on it asking for me to bring Spike to a particular office for a visit. Spike’s fan base may be larger now than Robby’s was when he retired.
Both of my teams, Robby and Spike, have a very good reputation in the law enforcement community and are highly sought after when outside agencies need assistance. Over the years we have served on protective details for Presidents, First Ladies, various heads of state, foreign dignitaries, celebrities and the like. We also get requests to do presentations both on and off campus. Recently , Spike and I did a presentation for Fred Burton and the Stratfor Group.
When not at work I like to indulge my interests in hot rods, motorcycles, off roading and aviation. I currently have two projects, a ’53 Ford Crestline Gasser and a ’67 Buick Riveria GS. I also enjoy cooking for family and friends.
“Do more than is required of you” General George Patton
Officer Perla S. Noriega was born in Brownsville, Texas, to her parents Mrs. Margarita Mayer and Mr. Guillermo Noriega; she is the oldest of two children. Officer Noriega was raised in the border town of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. She lived and attended school in Matamoros where she graduated from Ricardo Flores Magon High School.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Officer Noriega enrolled at The University of Texas at Brownsville. In 2008, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Degree with an emphasis on Police Administration. She became the first member of her family to attend and complete college in the United States. Officer Noriega graduated from the UT System Police Academy 87th BTS in 2009 and became a commissioned Peace Officer.
Officer Noriega has been a Police Officer at the University of Texas at Brownsville since 2009. She is assigned to the patrol division and currently working the morning shift. She is engaged with the student community and actively works to raise and promote sexual abuse awareness and alcohol awareness on Campus; she is also a bilingual presenter at Freshman Students and Parents Orientation Day’s. Furthermore, Officer Noriega is a Spanish Instructor at The University of Texas System Police Academy.
Officer Noriega recently passed the 2013 UT System Sergeant Promotional Examination and plans to seek further promotional opportunities within the Department. She also intends to pursue a Master in Criminal Justice Degree in the near future. Officer Noriega is constantly searching for new ways to improve herself by further developing her skills and attaining new knowledge that will allow her to better protect and serve the University Community.
Officer Noriega spends most of her spare time with her family and friends. She enjoys attending Rangers, Spurs and Cowboys games; she also loves to travel, play basketball, pool, and go fishing.
Officer David Sedmak began his career in 1993, working for the Houston Community College Police Department as a police dispatcher. While employed at HCC he attended the Houston Community College Law Enforcement Training Academy. Shortly after graduating the academy, David was hired by Harris County Constable’s Precinct #6, Houston, Texas where he worked on a part-time basis as a Reserve Deputy Constable assigned to the Patrol Division.
In 1994, David became a member of the Rice University Police Department. David and another officer founded the department’s first Field Training Program. David also coordinated all of the Bike Patrol Training for the department, he received numerous commendations while at Rice.
In 1999, David was hired by the Missouri City Police Department where he became a member of the Patrol Division. He was a Field Training Officer, and a member of the department’s SWAT team. On October 2nd, 2001, Officer Sedmak responded to a homicide in progress which resulted in a face to face confrontation with an armed subject who had brutally attacked his wife while armed with a knife. A struggle with the armed subject inside of car, led to the suspect’s arrest. Officer Sedmak was subsequently awarded the departments Meritorious Service Award for acts of bravery during an armed confrontation which resulted in saving the life of another.
On January of 2004, David became a proud member of the Galveston Police Department. He was a graduate of the 51st Galveston Police Academy. After graduation, David was assigned to the Patrol Division where he was a Field Training Officer, as well as the central patrol division Crime Scene Investigator. After two years in patrol, he was reassigned to the departments Special Operations Division. He was also an instructor at the police academy.
On September of 2006, he was recognized by the Galveston Daily News for coordinating efforts to thwart prostitution and Illicit taverns along the Strand. As a member of the department during Hurricane Rita, David received a Governor’s Commendation for acts of bravery during extenuating circumstances. One of David’s favorite quotes came to him while at Galveston- “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.” The quote became evening shifts motto which has become his inspiration for constant vigilance.
On July 2nd, 2012, Officer Sedmak came to the University of Texas Health Science Center Police Department, San Antonio, Texas. He was a member of the UT System Police 2nd Lateral Academy and is currently a Field Training Officer assigned to patrol (A Shift). His most recent accomplishment came on May 14th, 2013 when Director Heidingsfield presented him with the departments Life Saving Award for exemplary behavior during an emergency situation that occurred on April, 11, 2013, in which David administered first aid to an unresponsive individual, saving a life. Officer Sedmak holds a Master Peace Officer License, and a Basic Police Instructor’s License. Additionally, he is a certified A.L.E.R.R.T Instructor, Simunitions Instructor, and Bike Patrol Instructor. He developed and trains a course he designed that is entitled, “Tactical Considerations for Successful Apprehensions-Foot Pursuits.”
Corporal Jerry Blanco joined the Marine Corps shortly after graduating high school in Dallas, TX. In 2002 he deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and again in 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After leaving the Marine Corps, he attended Texas State Technical College – Waco for flight training. After leaving Waco, he attended the University of Texas at Arlington before joining the police department. He began his law enforcement career in 2007 at The University of Texas at Arlington Police Department. In 2011, he was selected as Officer of the year, and earned a Life Saver Award for assisting in reviving a heart attack victim. In 2012, Cpl. Blanco became a PTO and is now training new officers. Cpl. Blanco is also very active in his church; in 2012, he went to SE Asia to share the gospel and in his spare time works the special needs children.
Officer Samantha Carter began her law enforcement career in 2012 at the University of Texas at Austin Police Department. She is a second generation law enforcement officer taking after her father, Officer Serloyd Carter, commissioned with the Oak Harbor Police Department in Washington State.
She was born in Oak Harbor, Washington to her parents Serloyd and Robin Carter and is the youngest of three children and the only daughter. She grew up in a military family which required her to move every 2-3 years. This allowed her to experience the life and culture of places like Washington State, Hawaii, California, Nevada and Japan.
In 2011 she graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. She had always held an interest in law enforcement since High School but she knew it would be her career choice when she took her first Criminal Justice course in college. During the fall semester of 2010, she participated in an internship at Sparks Police Department in Sparks, Nevada. During her internship she went on patrol with officers, shadowed a crime victim’s advocate and assisted detectives in cases ranging from fraud, assault, theft and homicide. After graduation she relocated to Austin, Texas and shortly thereafter began looking to start her career. In May of 2012, with the support of her family and friends, she graduated with the 93rd battalion of the UT System Police Academy and became a commissioned peace officer.
Since beginning her career at UTPD and completing her PTO phase, she has been on night shift patrol where she has been able to work on a variety of cases. Along with two fellow officers, she received a Life Saving Award in December of 2012 for their efforts in saving a UT employee. She will soon be attending Intoxilyzer Operator training and looks forward to the opportunity to attend more specialized training in the future.
She strongly believes in officers staying physically and mentally prepared to encounter every possible aspect of their job. She thrives to never let complacency set in and always remain active in her career. Peace officers may encounter people at their worst. She maintains that regardless of whom you come into contact with or what you may see; you should always continue to believe in the good in people. She invites you to take the time to talk with those who thank you for your service and build relationships within the community.
And remember, smiles are contagious.
Corporal Homar Bahena initiated his law enforcement career in 2007 with the UT System Police Department. Before becoming a police officer, he worked as a part time employee in the parking and traffic division of the UT Brownsville Police Department. During this time, he attended college as a full time student at UT Brownsville, pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Police Administration. He also served as a backup dispatcher for the department. While completing his degree, he volunteered his time to the Los Fresnos Volunteer Fire Department as a firefighter and served at full capacity.
In December 2006, he graduated from The University of Texas at Brownsville, becoming the first member of his family to obtain a higher education degree. He knew that law enforcement was the choice of career for him. In December 2006, while preparing for graduation, he summited his police cadet application for 83nd UT Systems Academy. He successfully graduated from the UT System Police Academy in June 2007.
Currently, Corporal Homar Bahena holds an Advanced Peace Officer Certificate. He is a certified Field Training Officer and enjoys training and working with new officers. He holds a strong belief in that as a field training officer, you have a great opportunity in molding a new officer into a potential excellent officer. In addition, he serves in various capacities in his department, including emergency incident response and crime scene investigations. He is certified as a Mental Health Officer and has completed various special trainings including Vehicular Accident Reconstruction, Special Investigation (Family Violence, Child Abuse Prevention and Investigation). Corporal Bahena takes great joy in serving his community and is always looking for opportunities in which he can assist to improve the community he serves.
His future goals are to continue developing his law enforcement profession within the UT Systems Police and pursue a master’s degree in psychology.
Corporal Bahena takes great pride in being a husband, father, and a police officer. He believes that integrity, honor, respect and a gracious heart towards his creator, should be a daily ingredient in an individual.
It’s February and spring and summer breaks are right around the corner! Now is the time to start thinking about making vacation plans.
As an officer, it can be easy to take work home with you- thinking about calls you had earlier, working a ton of overtime and special assignments, or going out with friends from the police department (where you always end up talking about work). It’s easy to become grouchy, exhausted, and caught in a rut.
I encourage you to try to separate your work and home life. Take time off. Don’t just read and think about taking a vacation, but TAKE a vacation! Have you always thought about backpacking through Europe? Or how about lying on the white sandy beaches of the Hawaiian coast? How about taking a cruise to Alaska to see the Northern Lights? You could take the kids to Disney World! This summer is a great time to take a trip and unwind.
Taking time off from work helps you mentally, physically, and emotionally. A vacation resets your balance and brings back “you.” There are countless articles that document the benefits of taking a vacation and a handful of studies proving the findings. One study conducted in 2000 found that men that took a vacation annually decreased their risk of having a heart attack by 32%. A study in 2005 found that women who did not regularly take vacation were more likely to suffer from depression and stress.
Once you finally take that much needed vacation, really be on vacation. That means NO work related emails, phone calls, or texts. If you can only manage a long weekend then that is better than nothing, but a week or longer is best to reap the full benefits of taking a vacation.
Low on money? Take a road trip to the Texas’ coast or rent a cabin on the Guadalupe/Comal Rivers. Where ever you go, remember: Have fun, laugh often, eat great food, drink delicious concoctions, and take lots of photos!
So, what are you waiting for?! Book that trip and get away from work! Sergeant Ashley Griffin, UT Austin PD
Officer Clifford A. Douglas was born in Galveston, Texas. He is the only child from his mother. He graduated in 1993 from Ball High School in Galveston, Texas. After high school he continued his education along with playing sports at Cisco Junior College in Cisco, Texas and at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. He graduated from West Texas A&M University in 1997 earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. While in college Officer Douglas completed his internship at The Youth Center of the High Plains, a youth detention center in Amarillo, Texas and was employed there up until he finished college. After completing college, Officer Douglas knew he wanted to work in the parole division, probation, and law enforcement.
Prior to law enforcement Officer Douglas worked in the school districts for Galveston and Humble I.S.D as substitute teacher and behavior management to gain experience working with youths. After acquiring knowledge needed to further his experience, Officer Douglas worked as a Juvenile Probation Officer for Galveston County, Texas for 6 years and as Adult Probation Officer for Galveston County, Texas for 2 years. After working in the criminal justice side of probation, Officer Douglas wanted to explore his third option in working in law enforcement as a Police Officer. He graduated from Texas DPS Academy in August 2005.
After graduating he worked as a Highway Patrolman for Texas DPS for one year. He continued working at the University of Houston Clear Lake Police Department for 5 years ending rank as Sergeant. Officer Douglas joined the University of Texas Medical Branch Police Department (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas on June 18, 2012. He recently completed the UTSP 2nd Lateral Academy in Austin, Texas.
Officer Douglas currently as an Intermediate Peace Officer License and will obtain his advance license next year. Officer Douglas is a Field Training Officer and plans to help train new officers after he completes his first year at UTMB. Officer Douglas has been an Advance Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Instructor since 2008.
Officer Douglas enjoys participating in ALERRT trainings with other agencies to building officer relations. Officer Douglas plans to retire from UTMB Police Department, but until the time comes he will continue to help out within the department where ever he is needed. Officer Douglas enjoys working with different departments within the UTMB hospital to continue positive relations with the campus community.
Officer Douglas encourages everyone to share their knowledge and grow from each other, also to help where you can. “No one can do everything, but if everybody does something then everything will get done.” Ada Edwards
Officer Brandy N. Elliott was born at Ft. Walton Air Force Base, Florida and is from Colquitt, Georgia. She has two brothers and a sister, of which she is the oldest. In May of 2000, Brandy graduated from Miller County High school and enlisted into the United States Navy. In December 2000, she graduated from the Navy Corpsmen program in Chicago, Illinois. She was stationed at Naval Submarine Branch Clinic Kings Bay, Georgia, Guam and Portsmouth, Virginia Naval Hospital. Some of her many duties included: assisting with variety medical procedures, infection control officer, pre and post deployment physicals and Leading Petty Officer of two large clinics. After separation from the military, Brandy continued on with her education at Darton College in Albany, Georgia. She has earned college credits towards a nursing and veterinarian technology degree. In fall 2013, she has plans to return to college and enroll in University of Texas at Tyler in the Psychology program and work her way up to her Master’s degree. Brandy has two children, a son who is three years old and eighteen month old daughter.
In June 2012, she graduated from North Texas Community College Police Academy in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. On August 1, 2012, she joined the University of Texas at Tyler Police Department force and was hired by Chief Mike Medders. She has successfully completed her Field Training Program as of November 26, 2012. She will also be attending the University of Texas Lateral Academy in Austin, Texas this November through December. She hopes to attend the Mental Health Peace Officer course after returning and gain her Basic Peace Officer certificate in August 2013. Along with this, she wishes to learn Spanish, which would increase communication among officers and foreign speaking students.
Since she is new to the policing world, she is not sure as were she would like her career path to lead her. She has tolled with the idea of Investigator or Inspector in the far future. Fortunately, at University of Texas at Tyler Police Department, she is exposed to a wide vary of calls. Although this Police Department is small, it is unique in the fact that officers are able to investigate their own cases, all the way from the initial call to the District Attorney Presentation. Even as Brandy has been a member of this police force for a short time, she has already became a lead investigator of a Sexual Assault, Burglary of Habitation and theft case along with her everyday patrol and traffic control duties. During that time, she performed witness, suspect and victim interviews for each case. She enjoys participating in searches for illegal drugs that have been reported in the Universities’ apartments and dorms the most. She would enjoy it even more with the help of a canine unit. She is interested in become a certified K-9 handler for the University of Texas at Tyler Police Department, if the chance should ever arise. She has also had the experienced working with outside agencies like Tyler and Jacksonville Police Department and the Cherokee County Jail.
In the early nineties, Officer Liju George moved with his family to New York City’s Long Island area from Kerala, India. While in New York City, Officer George attended and graduated from Herricks High School in 1997. Shortly after graduating high school, he enrolled in Nassau Community College where he studied a variety of courses towards an associate’s degree and earning a computer technician certification.
In 2005, Officer George moved to Dallas, Texas and continued his college studies while working for a local retailer. Less than a year later, one of Officer George’s relatives told him about an opening at the UT Southwestern Police Department. Within a short period of time, Officer George began working as a Public Safety Officer with the UT Southwestern police department. About a year later, Officer George successfully completed the testing process for police cadet and became a member of the 84th basic training academy in July 2007. Officer George graduated from the UT System Police Academy in December 2007.
Officer George holds an Intermediate Peace Officer license. He is currently assigned to the evening shift in the patrol division. He is an active member of the UT System Rapid Response Team and is a certified SWAT officer. Officer George has also earned certifications for bicycle patrol officer and computer forensic investigations. He fluently speaks his native language - Malayalam. And he also understands other Indian languages: Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.
Officer George plans to test for further promotional opportunities within the department for Corporal or Sergeant positions. He plans to continue working on his college educational goals to eventually earn a degree in Criminal Justice / Forensic Science. In addition, he plans to pursue additional law enforcement related training to become a field training officer and basic instructor.
Officer George enjoys serving as a role model for young children. Over the past few years, he has participated in several local university sponsored community service activities to help promote a positive image of the university.
Officer George lives with his wife and 2-year old daughter in the North Texas area. He spends much of his spare time with family and friends.
Scott H. Barnwell started in law enforcement in 1992 with the United States Coast Guard. He attended and graduated the U.S.C.G. Small Arms Instructor School in 1994. Scott worked with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department Detention Division from 1994 until 1996 when he joined the University of Texas Police Department at Houston. He worked as a Patrol Officer and Field Training Officer as well as a Range Proficiency Officer until the spring of 2002 when he joined the Federal Air Marshal Service.
Scott worked with the FAMs for approximately ten months before returning to UTPD at Houston where he was promoted to Sergeant. He now serves as the UTPD at Houston Sergeant of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Preparedness, a liaison role with many institutional departments and outside agencies. Scott is an instructor for the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) teaching simulation-based Critical Incident Management Training for universities and their surrounding communities throughout the United States.
Scott has been a UTPD at Houston Response Team member since 2005 and was selected as a Team Leader in 2009.
Scott has attended and is a member of the Houston Police Department Special Response Group (SRG Mobile Field Force). He attended and graduated from Southern Methodist University’s Basic Tactical Operator’s School (SWAT) and was awarded Top Operator in that training. Scott was selected as a Team Leader for the UT System Rapid Response Team (SRRT) in 2011 when it was founded. Since that time, he has overseen three major operations of his team plus numerous other assignments and trainings. As a member of the SRRT, Scott has participated in further training with both the Texas Department of Public Safety SWAT Team Texas Ranger Division and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).
Scott is a TCLEOSE Firearms instructor and Police instructor. He is also a NRA Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor. Scott also serves as an ALERRT instructor and guest firearms instructor at the University of Texas System Police Academy at Austin. Scott was certified as a Strategos International 3-gun Tactical Firearms Instructor in 2008. He is a member of the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association (TTPOA), The International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI), The International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) and the National Rifle Association. Sgt. Barnwell is the Lead Active Shooter Training Instructor at UTPD Houston. This program has seen great success over the last five years and has trained hundreds of officers from over 20 different agencies.
“The University of Texas System and all of its components provide untold economic, community and national significance. Protection of life and property of our university is an incredible opportunity and challenge that I am honored to be a part of. We have the opportunity to train with and collaborate with law enforcement and emergency management personnel from all over the world. This is hard to duplicate at anything but the largest cities and federal agencies in the world. I see a clarification of core competency across the University System on rapid response capabilities, Officers and administrations are now focused on officers’ physical fitness and shooting standards as the hallmark of what University Police Officers are expected to do when protecting our community. This is an exciting time to work with such dedicated professionals” – Sgt Scott Barnwell
“Chance favors the prepared” Louis Pasteur
Officer Dava Barnhart was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and raised in a small southeastern town called, Hodgen. In 1995 she signed a letter of intent to play basketball for the University of Miami (FL), where she received a full athletic scholarship. She graduated in 1999, with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and a Minor in Psychology.
In October of 2001, Officer Barnhart was hired by the Boca Raton Police Department (BRPD), in Boca Raton, Florida. She attended the 208th Broward County Police Academy, and graduated with the top honor, receiving the Honor Medallion. Barnhart worked in Road Patrol at BRPD for five years, until two surgeries on her left hip led her to take a civilian position in BRPD’s 911 Telecommunications Center. In the center she became an advanced certified dispatcher in Police, Fire, and Medical (including Pro-QA EPD/EFD/EMD), through the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch. She worked in the Telecommunications Center for four years. Her experience as an officer helped tremendously while learning to become a dispatcher in a fast-paced 911 center that received well over 30,000 calls per month. She believes understanding views as both an officer and a dispatcher placed her in a mediator role, which she enjoyed.
Officer Barnhart was selected to be on the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team while working as a police officer, and continued her role on the team while in dispatch. After working as a dispatcher she quickly realized dispatchers must be included in the debriefing of mass incidents in which they are involved.
Once Officer Barnhart got her hip back in policing-shape, she was ready to leave Florida, and had her eyes on Austin. On January 1, 2011, Officer Barnhart was hired by the University of Texas at Austin. She began the 91st University of Texas System Police Academy that January, but had to drop out in February when she was hospitalized with Lobar Pneumonia (amongst other complications) for eight days. Officer Barnhart was thankfully allowed to attend the 92nd System Police Academy. She graduated in December 2011, receiving the Top Cadet award.
Since graduating the academy, Officer Barnhart has been working evenings at UTPD Austin, and getting acclimated with Campus Policing. She recently made the System Rapid Response Team (SRRT). She is thrilled to be a part of the team, looking forward to attending the upcoming intense training, and anxious for the opportunities it will bring.
Officer Barnhart believes communication is and will remain the most priceless tool police can carry. Without great communication skills, it is hard to truly be successful as an officer, and agency, and on a broader-view, in life. She also believes in daily visualization drills, in which she goes through past or make-believe scenarios, to exercise her mind for the unknown. Officer Barnhart loves training. She thinks the more we physically train with our mind, our body, our weapons, and each other, the more confident and in control we will be when it’s time to attack the problem.
Two of Officer Barnhart's favorite quotes come from the wisdom of the late inspirational Hall of Fame, Coach John Wooden, "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." and "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"
Joseph Michael Pasqua is the Safety Coordinator and a Police Officer for the University of Texas at Austin Police Department. He has worked at the McDonald Observatory, the world renowned astronomy research facility, since June 2006. He is also the Operations Chief of the Emergency Response Team and a member of the Emergency Management Team. Officer Pasqua attended Sul Ross State University obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Management and Criminal Justice in 1990. He attended the Sul Ross State University Police Academy where he obtained his basic Peace Officer certification in August 1990.
In the past two decades, Officer Pasqua has served his profession as an active member of the Big Bend Area Law Enforcement Officer’s Association where he served as President in 1998. He is an instructor for the McDonald Observatory’s Emergency Response Team, the Fort Davis Volunteer Fire Department as well as an instructor for future peace officers at the Sul Ross State University Police Academy. Officer Pasqua was chosen by the 2012 Cadet class to be the Guest Speaker at their commencement exercise.
In 2008, Officer Pasqua played a key role in establishing the Big Bend Area Law Enforcement Fallen Officer’s Memorial located at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas after losing his partner, Deputy Stockburger, in the line of duty after a shootout with a criminal while employed with the Ft. Stockton Police Department. Officer Pasqua was a shot four times during the incident. This happened on December 11, 1990, only four days after Officer Pasqua had finished his field training. As a result of this incident, Deputy Stockburger died a few years later due to complications from the injuries he sustained. Officer Pasqua received the International Association Chiefs of Police, Kevlar/DuPont Survivors award and was inducted into the “Kevlar Survivors Club” on December 1990.
Officer Pasqua continued his career in law enforcement and currently holds a Masters Peace officer certification, Instructors Certification and a Special Investigators certification. Officer Pasqua has been credited with over 2500 continuing education hours through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. Officer Pasqua has served the law enforcement profession as a patrol officer, Drug Abuse Resistance Education Instructor, line supervisor as well as a Certified Juvenile and Adult Community Supervision Officer. Officer Pasqua serves as a first responder to all emergency situations not only as a law enforcement officer, but as volunteer firefighter and a wild land arson investigator.
Officer Pasqua has been a volunteer firefighter for the past 19 years. In the past two years, he has had the opportunity to assist in one of the largest wild land fires in Texas History. The Rock House Fire in April 2011 consumed 25 homes and structures and burned approximately 315,000 acres in the small west Texas community of Fort Davis. Officer Pasqua volunteered as a first responder for the first 72 hours of the fire non-stop and then transitioned into the incident command staff serving as a local resource as well as continuing to battle the fire. During the six weeks of the fire, Officer Pasqua not only worked his duty assignment at McDonald Observatory, but continued to volunteer his off duty time battling the fire protecting the threatened University of Texas research facility. A few days after the Rock House fire ended, he also worked the Tejano Canyon Fire which burned for 3 weeks. Once again, Officer Pasqua volunteered his off duty time to battle yet another fire to protect the threatened University of Texas research facility.
Officer Pasqua encourages everyone that he has contact with to believe in their self, take pride in who they are, and remember: “Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” Abraham Lincoln.
Officer Molly Ralph is a K-9 Handler and patrol officer at the University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA) in Edinburg. Molly and Odin, her narcotics canine partner, work hard to keep campus safe, train as often as possible, and play when time allows. Molly started at UTPA as a Housing Coordinator for the Residence Life Department. She transferred to the Police Department and worked as a Public Safety Officer while her application for a Police Officer was being processed. In July 2010, she attended the University of Texas Police Academy with an amazing group of cadets.
Shortly after field training was completed, she applied to be a K-9 handler, and began working with Odin in July 2011. She has enjoyed working with Odin, both in training and during actual deployments. Odin is very friendly and walks around campus to be introduced to students, staff, and faculty to raise awareness of his presence and to make this unique service known to other department staff. Calls for preventative sniffing are steadily going up and aim to keep harmful substances off of the campus. Besides being a K-9 handler, Molly has training as a Bike Officer, Rape Aggression Defense Instructor, and as an Ally to people struggling with sexuality issues. Molly is actively seeking her intermediate license and hopes to obtain training to be a TCLEOSE instructor, Drug Recognition Expert or Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement certified, Mental Health Officer, and K-9 trainer. She also enjoys giving presentations about her K-9, about drug and alcohol awareness, and for Residence Life Training.
Outside of police duties, Molly advises two student organizations on campus; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) club and Zeta Beta Theta, an academic sorority. Molly also works hard to get to know and talk with the Residence Life student and professional staff. These relationships grow from a desire to maintain a balance, by seeking out positive interactions as a police officer and to stay in touch with students and the challenges they face. Born in the Midwest, Molly has split her time between Iowa, Wisconsin and Texas. She currently lives outside city limits with Dusty, her boyfriend of ten years, as well as Odin and their three other dogs. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. She also has a love for sociology, geology, the outdoors, and art.
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Stefan Happ is a first generation German immigrant who came to the United States at age 11. A few years later, during his enlistment in the U.S. Army Reserve, he obtained his U.S. citizenship and joined the El Paso Police Department. After retiring from EPPD in 2009 after 21 years of service, Stefan came to the University of Texas at Houston Police Department as the criminal investigation supervisor. At UTPD Houston, Stefan supervises four investigators, two detectives and a crime analyst. The dedicated staff investigate crime at two separate UT entities—MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Health, both of which are located in the heart of the largest city in Texas. They find that along with the complexities brought on by two campuses, many of the big city problems spill over, as neither institution has a campus border and are spread over many square miles.
Before starting with UTPD Houston, Stefan Happ served the El Paso Police Department in various capacities—patrol officer, field training officer, patrol sergeant, officer involved shooting investigator, auto theft detective and brief occasional stints in administration and as an instructor. Stefan Happ’s main specialty, however, was financial crimes investigation. He spent over a third of his career investigating fraud, embezzlement, public corruption, money laundering, white-collar crime and served as the EPPD’s first computer forensics specialist when computer and Internet crime first surfaced in the late 90’s. In 2007, he helped his former agency achieve CALEA accreditation as its first accreditation manager. Stefan Happ holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice—Law Enforcement from Park University and also attended the University of Texas at El Paso. Stefan is a Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Forensic Financial Analyst.
Coming into University policing from a major municipal agency gave Stefan new insight into the vast array of skill sets that UT police officers are required to have. The problem solving skills, discretion, tact and ability to handle emergencies among very fragile populations and in an environment full of biohazards and radiological dangers, privacy concerns and emotionally distraught people has given him a greater appreciation for University police officers. Stefan has learned many new skills from his fellow officers and staff at UTPD and he is grateful for the opportunity to continue his law enforcement career among these caring professionals.
Posted 5/23/12 (revised 12/4/12)
Sgt. Jones grew up in College Station, Texas and after serving with the famed 82nd Airborne Division, he returned home to attend Texas A&M University, graduating in three years. After finishing his bachelor’s degree, he moved to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area to attend graduate school with the University of North Texas, graduating with the degree of Master of Public Administration.
During his transition from College Station to DFW, he began his career with The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Police Department and attended The University of Texas System Police Academy in Austin in 2006. He was initially assigned to the Patrol Division but later was transferred to the Criminal Investigations Division (CID). While in CID, he investigated several large-scale identity theft and fraud cases and coordinated multi-agency responses from other municipal, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. In August 2011, he promoted to Sergeant and transferred back to the Patrol Division. He only spent a short time in Patrol before transferring back into CID as the investigations supervisor.
In 2010, Sgt. Jones took a short break from police duties. After finishing his graduate coursework, he took over Texas A&M University at Galveston’s budget analyst duties but decided the career switch was not something he relished. He completed Texas A&M University at Galveston’s 2011-2012 budgets and returned to the UT Southwestern Police Department. Once back in the Police Department, Sgt. Jones became the department’s Intelligence Officer. As a result, he has sought out multiple training opportunities all across the nation. Along with members from the Office of the Director of Police, he is on the leading edge of fostering a sense of intelligence-led policing at each component and continues to seek new areas for the System to improve. He discovered the System Components lacked proper suspicious activity reporting tools and developed a Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) form which will be used all across the state. This allows the System to be in compliance with the national SAR initiative.
Sgt. Jones holds an Advanced Peace Officer license and is a TCLEOSE Instructor with areas of expertise in investigative work, forensics, counter-terrorism, and intelligence. He is also a certified Forensic Technician and is working towards his Criminal Intelligence Certified Analyst certification through the International Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysts.
Sgt. Jones plans to seek further promotional opportunities within the System and will soon begin preparing for the Lieutenant’s testing. He also intends to pursue a doctorate in the near future, continuing his commitment to learning.
Sgt. Jones and his wife recently welcomed a new member to the UT System Police ranks. They had their first child in January. He spends much of his spare time with his family and friends and is the consummate Aggie by attending as many Texas A&M University social and sporting events as possible.
“We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”
Gen. Omar Nelson Bradley
Sgt. Lemmonds is a Texas Master Peace Officer and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with honors from The University of Houston. She also holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Houston and is currently attending the Texas Certified Public Manager program through Sam Houston State University.
Sgt. Lemmonds started her career at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX as a guard in 1994; in 1999 she attended the University of Texas System Police Academy. She then joined the University of Texas at Houston Police Department in 2002 and was promoted to Sergeant in 2005.While serving the University of Texas community for over 17 years she has performed various assignments within the UT System Police including Traffic Enforcement Officer, Field Training Officer, Crime Prevention Sergeant and is currently a Lead Instructor for The Rape Aggression Defense Class.
In 2010 Sgt. Lemmonds was nominated for the highly prestigious Heart of MD Anderson Outstanding Employee Award, which recognizes an employee’s deep commitment to the Institution and its Mission, Vision and core values of Caring, Integrity and Discovery. MD. Sgt. Lemmonds also enjoys participating in charitable events and over the past five years has coordinated, planned and supervised several charity events including the SECC Charitable Campaign, Camp A-OK for MD Anderson children, Adopt a Family and Senior Valentine Luncheons.
Sgt. Lemmonds’ primary responsibility in Field Operations includes the supervision of public safety officers and police officers as they discharge their responsibility to ensure the welfare of students, faculty, staff and visitors as well as the protection of property under the jurisdiction of the university.
Her immediate plans include preparing for the promotional assessment for position of Lieutenant that will be held in July 2012. Her future plans include continuing her education and to promote through the ranks, eventually becoming a Chief of Police for the UT System.
In her spare time Sgt. Lemmonds enjoys traveling the world and experiencing new and exciting adventures. Her recent travels include Costa Rica, Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Belize.
“Leadership is doing what is right when no one is watching”.
George Van Valkenburg