Senate officer, veteran named UT System’s director of police

Mary Ellen Knewtson

A United States Senate sergeant at arms and Vietnam War veteran will be the UT System’s new director of police, a spokesman for the System announced Tuesday.

UT System spokesman Matt Flores said Michael Heidingsfield, who is the current senior assistant to the chief law enforcement officer in the Senate, was the best choice after a national search for the new director. Heidingsfield will take up the position on April 4. Sergeant at arms Terrence Gainer announced his new position Tuesday.

“Mike will oversee 15 police chiefs, 500 sworn officers and 800 civilian staff in his new role,” Gainer said in a statement. “The issues he will contend with range from border violence to active shooters to threats of bioterrorism.”

The human resources job posting said the director of police provides legal and policy advice and oversees the systemwide law enforcement. He is also in charge of training officers.

During his time working for the U.S. Senate, Heidingsfield advised security for events such as the Democratic and Republican national conventions and the presidential inauguration. Prior to that, he worked as the as chief of police in Scottsdale, Ariz., and UT-Arlington.

Heidingsfield was an active member of the Air Force at the end of the Vietnam War and retired as a full colonel. The Air Force requested his services during the Iraq War to train a 135,000-member Iraqi Police Service.

“Mike is extraordinarily qualified for this position,” said a release from the UT System Department of Public Affairs. “He will add great value to our ongoing efforts to ensure the protection, safety and security of our students, faculty, staff, community and facilities throughout the state.”

Heidingsfield earned his master’s at Texas Christian University and his bachelor’s at Florida State. He is a published author and speaker on criminal justice.