September 27, 2018
We are very fortunate to be supported by a wonderful police department—dedicated to keeping us safe and addressing emergencies and potential high risk situations. I have come to rely upon the expertise and availability of William Adcox, chief of UT Police—and his outstanding team.
We recently had the opportunity to meet with Ray Gerwitz, executive director, deputy chief security officer, and other leaders of UT Police. We asked Ray a series of questions about UT Police and how we can best work together.
What is UT Police – its role and jurisdiction?
Our role is to work in partnership with community members to keep people safe and all property secure. The University of Texas Police at Houston (UT Police) jurisdiction is any property owned, leased, or operated by UT System, with full responsibility for UTHealth and MD Anderson operations and property. This includes all UT property within the Texas Medical Center and UT property located throughout the Houston metropolitan area.
What would you like us to know about UT Police?
We are here to help and support every member of our institutional community. We focus on organizational health and individual wellness.
UT Police is an internationally accredited full-authority state law enforcement agency and risk and protection organization that ensures safety and security at the UTHealth and MD Anderson campuses in the Texas Medical Center and at the many distributed locations in the region. We operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. UT Police consists of commissioned police officers, public safety officers, telecommunications professionals, and professional civilian staff.
We use a systems approach to reduce threats, risks, and harm to our community and to increase our institutions’ resilience. Our approach, the Combined Protection Model (CPM), focuses on prevention, preparedness, and protection measures to reduce harm from both visible and invisible threats. To do this we use five service units – Campus Security, Investigative Services, Police Services, Risk Management, and Threat Management. We are considered industry leaders with an award-winning approach that is both thoughtful and proactive and optimizes resilience with the least disruption of the services we offer to our community.
We provide robust programs and services, including safety classes, risk assessments, ID badge access, bike storage access, and event security. We also offer fingerprinting services, safety transportation, and limited assistance to motorists. You may visit www.utph.org for a complete list of programs and services, with detailed descriptions.
Crisis intervention and prevention is critical to reducing the risk of harm. We offer specialized training for healthcare professionals, focusing on behaviors of concern, prevention, and de-escalation. UT Police also has created the Assist in Well-being, Awareness Readiness and Engagement (AWARE) Team for our community. AWARE Team members are members of the lay public who complete a curriculum of safety classes and are trained to assist during a critical incident.
What are the different types of UT Police officers we may see in our building?
On a day-to-day basis, our students, faculty, and staff most often interact with UT Police Public Safety Officers (PSOs) and Uniformed Police Officers. During a critical incident or emergency, interaction may extend to the Threat Management Team, which consists of Police Officers, Detectives, and Inspectors.
PSOs, one of the most visible components of UT Police, have frequent interactions with the public. You can easily identify them by their white shirts. They provide service and information to students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors, and they enforce the rules and safeguard the property at UTHealth and MD Anderson. They carry no weapons and have no police arrest authority. However, their observation skills and subsequent reports of suspicious activity often lead to apprehension of suspicious persons.
Our Police Officers are identified by their dark blue uniforms. They receive extensive training and certification in mental health and dealing with persons in crisis. They are responsible for the safety of faculty, students, patients, and staff working and living on campus. They are constantly on patrol of the campus — working to prevent crime, to preserve the peace, and to protect life and property — with authority to enforce Texas state laws and UT System rules and regulations.
UT Police’s Threat Management Team (TMT) assists in maintaining the safety, health, and welfare of our community by early identifying and addressing threats to the safety and well-being of individuals, their risk to others, or to property on campus. They work through prevention, identification, assessment, intervention, and management of incidents that may pose a threat. The TMT consists of law enforcement professionals with extensive investigative experience who collaborate with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to intervene before situations escalate to harmful or dangerous levels. The lead of this team serves as a member of the institutions’ behavioral intervention team (STOP committee).
Both officers and civilians are charged with carrying out the mission of UT Police — a shared purpose of prevention, preparedness, and protection to safeguard the continuity of care, research advancements, and educational aspirations of the community we serve.
Tell us about the security alerts that are sent out by UT Police.
A few different types of alerts originate from UT Police: Emergency Notifications, Timely Warnings, and Safety Bulletins.
The Risk Operations Center sends Emergency Notifications (or emergency alerts) to the campus community through the Everbridge system. These are the automated calls or text messages that are sent to cell phones of employees, students, and faculty at UTHealth and/or MD Anderson. Emergency Notifications are triggered by a broad range of potential threats and are required by the Clery Act. Broadly, Emergency Notifications include significant emergency or dangerous situations, such as weather emergencies and active shooter situations. For more on the Clery Act and responsibilities of academic institutions, visit https://clerycenter.org/policy-resources/the-clery-act/.
The Clery Act also requires UT Police to distribute Timely Warnings, and we do so by distributing these special bulletins to individuals who subscribe to the UT Police email distribution list. Timely Warnings are triggered when a crime — such as a robbery, sex offense, or homicide — presents a serious or continuing threat to students and employees. Timely Warnings aim to provide information to protect individuals and hopefully prevent them from becoming victims of crime. Some emergency notifications require a Timely Warning to be issued. For example, an active shooter situation on campus would require both an Emergency Notification and a Timely Warning.
Safety Bulletins or advisories are distributed to our community to heighten awareness about certain crimes or crime trends in the area that may present a threat to the community. The intent of Safety Bulletins is to alert the community of continuing threats and risks to safety. UT Police also issues Safety Bulletins with information on the wide range of programming and services offered to the community, including safety classes and general tips on maintaining safety.
To subscribe to the UT Police distribution list, or to view a detailed list of programs and services, visit UT Police online at www.utph.org. To ensure you receive Emergency Notifications, visit http://bit.ly/UTHealthEN (UTHealth).
How can we be more involved in the safety and security of our work environment?
Each and every one of us has a role to play in maintaining a secure work and educational environment on campus. It is very important to wear/display your ID badge at all times and to prevent anyone from following you into a secured area after you’ve used your ID badge. Unless you know that a person should be entering one of our buildings, please don’t help them enter. If you encounter anyone who disregards your attempts to keep a building secure, alert a Public Safety Officer or contact UT Police at 713-792-2890. Call 911 in an emergency.
Secure your belongings every time you leave your desk or workspace, even for short trips down the hall. Most thefts reported to UT Police occur in offices that were left unsecured. Require identification before admitting someone unfamiliar into your room or office.
In our parking areas you can help maintain safety by keeping your vehicle locked at all times, parking in well-lit areas, and never leaving your vehicle running unattended. Approach your vehicle with intent: Have your keys ready, look under and around your car for any threats, and look for threats from nearby vehicles or suspicious persons. When facing a safety concern, request a courtesy escort to your vehicle by calling 713-792-2890.
Trust your instincts — if you feel unsafe, don’t wait for someone else to validate your feelings. Leave the area and seek assistance.
And again, if you see any suspicious persons or vehicles, contact UT Police immediately at 713-792-2890.
Please join me in thanking Chief Adcox, Executive Director Gerwitz, and their colleagues at UT Police for keeping us safe and secure in the Texas Medical Center.