Selected to begin in April 2011 as the Director of Police for the University of Texas System, Michael J. Heidingsfield is responsible for the leadership and operation of the University of Texas System Police (UTSP), composed of 625 sworn officers and 907 civilian staff assigned at 15 University of Texas System campuses across the State of Texas. He oversees each of the 13 university police departments and the respective Chiefs of Police as well as the University of Texas System Police Academy. The UTSP is a state law enforcement agency with primary jurisdiction in the 68 Texas counties where the University of Texas System has real property and delivers full law enforcement services to a population of 330,000 students, faculty and staff plus thousands of visitors daily. Functions include a tactical response team, major crimes unit, an inspections staff, criminal intelligence, a seat at the Texas Fusion Center, internal affairs, administrative investigations as well as the full array of traditional police services in the field including patrol, canine, criminal investigations, motors and bicycle units.
The University of Texas System Police, a single police agency, is the third largest state law enforcement agency in the State of Texas.
Prior to being appointed as Director of Police, he served as the Senior Assistant Sergeant at Arms for Police Operations and Homeland Security for the United States Senate and held that position from 2008 to 2011. In that capacity he directly oversaw the Senate’s preparations for security of its members, the protection of the Senate both as a complex of facilities and as an institution, the counter-terrorism measures employed to ensure enduring constitutional government and the overarching law enforcement and security measures necessary to guarantee public safety, continuity of operations and enduring constitutional government. He served as a senior participant and advisor for such National Special Security Events as the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions and the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.
Preceding his Senate appointment, Director Heidingsfield served for eight years as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to his move to Memphis, Director Heidingsfield served for eight years as the Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety for the City of Scottsdale, Arizona. His law enforcement service in Arizona and Tennessee was preceded by a 13 year tenure at the Arlington (TX) Police Department, leaving there as the senior deputy police chief after having been selected through a nationwide recruitment to lead the Scottsdale Police Department. At the time of his retirement from the City of Scottsdale, he was accorded the title of Chief of Police Emeritus. Director Heidingsfield began his law enforcement career with the University of Texas System Police from 1973-1975.
Following his graduation from college, Director Heidingsfield served as an active duty Air Force officer at the conclusion of the Vietnam War and subsequently retired in 2004 as a full colonel in the Air Force Reserve assigned to the Security Forces Directorate at the Pentagon. He was called to active duty in the wake of the attacks of 9/11 and served as a team chief in the Air Force Crisis Action Center in the Pentagon. He also served as an advisory team member at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba. His Air Force career took him to Europe, Central America, East Asia and the Persian Gulf.
He received his BS degree in Criminology from Florida State University in 1973 and his MA degree in Liberal Arts from Texas Christian University in 1990. While at Florida State University, Director Heidingsfield was an Air Force scholarship recipient and a distinguished graduate of the ROTC commissioning program.
He is a published author and speaker in the fields of criminal justice policy, policing, leadership and ethics, and has presented before the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Major City Police Chiefs Association, Police Executive Research Forum, US Navy Post Graduate School and at Oxford University, England. Director Heidingsfield has provided advice to the Israeli National Police on the issue of violence de-escalation, to the Bermuda Police Service on international law enforcement accreditation and has served as a trainer for the Ministry of Public Security in Costa Rica. He received three gubernatorial appointments for criminal justice posts in the State of Arizona and served as a subject matter expert for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, on the security of Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees. He also served as an instructor on leadership for the Indonesian National Police executive corps and for a 20 year period was an assessor and team leader for the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
While on a 13 month leave of absence from the Crime Commission from 2004-2005, Director Heidingsfield served in Baghdad as the Contingent Commander for the US Department of State’s Police Advisory Mission in Iraq. His role was leading the effort to retrain and reconstitute the Iraqi Police Service, overseeing a staff of 1000 in doing so and traveling throughout Iraq. He survived five insurgent attacks during that mission. He was also selected in 2007 to serve as a member of the Congressionally-mandated Independent Commission on the Iraqi Security Forces, again traveling to Iraq. More recently, he served as senior police advisor and subject matter expert to the President’s Special Envoy to the Middle East for Regional Security. Both his Iraq Commission and Middle East Special Envoy work was done at the request of and under the leadership of past National Security Advisor, General James Jones.
Director Heidingsfield is a graduate of the Senior Management Institute for Police, generally considered the most advanced police executive training in the country with faculty drawn primarily from the Harvard University Schools of Business and Government. Finally, he served for three years on the Board of Trustees for the Center for American and International Law.