Courtesy of Noelle Newton
Officer Dustin Farahnak used to spend countless nights studying on the UT campus as a law student. Now, as a district representative for the UT Police Department, Farahnak is in charge of keeping students on the same 40 Acres safe.
District representatives are UTPD officers assigned to specific areas to engage directly with the community.
As a representative for District 2, Farahnak patrols an area that stretches from Speedway to Guadalupe Street, which includes the Perry-Castañeda Library, the Blanton Museum of Art and West Mall. Because his district borders West Campus, Farahnak also spends some time there.
“The basic concept underlying a district (representative) is communication,” Farahnak said. “District reps provide a lot of communication to the community and in a couple of forms, through the email system and by giving presentations to the University community.”
A typical day for Farahnak includes patrol duties, responding to service calls and communicating with students and staff.
Farahnak commutes to work and attends a briefing. His supervisors give him information on be-on-the-lookout warnings and University events occurring for the day.
Farahnak finds the night shift patrol officer and asks him for an update. Farahnak then gets into his patrol vehicle and conducts a basic inspection of his equipment.
Farahnak begins patrolling his district.
“Staff and students are nine out of 10 of the people I interact with,” Farahnak said. “I’m on day shift, so I interact with a lot of students who are studying. I do try to cover West Campus pretty well as well. I know a lot of the homeless in that community and I talk to them try to make sure that we’re on each other’s radar. I think that that avoids a lot of problems down the road.”
Farahnak rewards himself with a cup of coffee and begins doing his “homework,” which consists of checking Tableau, a site used by UTPD for crime statistics, writing the latest Campus Watch report and checking his emails.
8:00 a.m. – 3:55 p.m.
Farahnak shifts back to his patrol duties and responds to calls for service.
“That’s what I love about my job,” Farahnak said. “You never know what those calls are going to be today. It could be a mental health call, it could be a serious crime, it could be a drunk driver. It’s almost like an adventure every day.”
Farahnak thinks about duties to give to night shift officers. He finishes his police reports for the day and ensures they’re approved by his supervisor.
Farahnak meets with the night shift officers about his concerns.
“The best thing law enforcement can improve on is communication,” Farahnak said. “Right now we need to make sure that our community and our fellow officers can talk to us … All the district representative program really does is take what a good beat cop already does and make it a little more accessible, with better communication and more consistency.”