UTPD Chief to Retire in May

The University of Texas Police Department is on a manhunt, but this time, it doesn’t involve the usual suspects. The department has started a search to replace current chief, Robert Dahlstrom, who announced his retirement earlier this week.

Dahlstrom, who was named chief of UTPD in March 2006, says he will relinquish his badge and gun this coming May. His retirement will not only end his six-year tenure as chief at UT, but will also cap off a law enforcement career that’s spanned more than three decades.

Before joining UTPD, Dahlstrom was a jack-of-all-trades for Austin’s finest. Entering the force as an intern in 1976, he served as a member of the Austin Police Department’s SWAT team in the ’90s before leaving APD ranked as chief of staff in 2005.

At UTPD, Dahlstrom has dealt with his fair share of inebriated students and stolen bikes, but ensuring the safety of an entire university means he’s had to handle some truly intense situations as well. On Sept. 28, 2010, when a student fired shots in the Perry-Castañeda Library before taking his own life, Dahlstrom and UTPD were first on the scene. Despite the tragedy of that day, Dahlstrom commends the quick response of his team and of the UT community.

“What we saw was a lot of people doing exactly what we wanted them to do,” he says. “It kind of proved that all of our training is effective, especially the way the University responded.”

Working on a university campus is something Dahlstrom says he has enjoyed immensely. He attributes a relatively low crime rate on campus to not only to his department, but to the cooperation of the student body as a whole.

“The best part of working on a university campus,” Dahlstrom says, “is that we don’t just have 66 officers. We have 70,000.”

A search committee will be assembled to hire a replacement to fill the big shoes Dahlstrom leaves behind. Under his leadership, UTPD has been accredited and re-accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, the internationally recognized authority on law enforcement standards. Dahlstrom hinted that the department has high hopes of being re-accredited yet again before he departs in May.

Having been on call for the past two decades of his life, Dahlstrom looks forward to some well-deserved rest and relaxation with his wife, who retired from teaching last May. They plan to travel to all 50 states, as well as to visit each of the 254 county courthouses in Texas—but that’s the closest you’ll see him to a court of law.

Dahlstrom says he plans to “retire-retire” this time around. If he isn’t traveling, you’ll find him lakeside, gone fishing.

Photo courtesy UTPD


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