UTPD held an open meeting with Austin Police Department assistant police chief Raul Munguia, the fourth and final candidate for its next Chief of Police this Friday, allowing students, faulty and staff the opportunity to ask questions and rate his characteristics.
Munguia, who has served as an assistant police chief for the Austin Police Department for two years, oversaw some patrols and helped plan security for large events. He said he thought one of the most important lessons from his experience with APD that he wanted to apply to UT and its police force was friendly interaction with the community.
Munguia explained that in dealing with groups like Occupy Austin, he believed APD had been more effective than other cities’ police departments because it set clear rules for the protestors and still allowed them to speak.
“We explained what was going to be allowed and what wasn’t and the fact that they’d be able to produce their signs and have their moment and get out their lesson,” Munguia said. “They were actually coming to us for ... people who were causing problems and not [with them].”
Munguia also said he thought it was going to be important to deal with UTPD’s high attrition rate among younger, lower ranking officers.
“Right now the greatest need in the department is the attrition rate,” Munguia said. “[There’s been pay increases], but it’s also how do you create a more challenging work environment.”
Munguia suggested UTPD officers could respond to alarm calls and other requests from APD radio frequencies, giving them more opportunity for variety.
Student Body Vice President Ugeo Williams, who attended the meeting, said he liked Munguia’s experience.
“I loved the fact that he has children, so he understands the safety part of a college campus,” Williams said. “I like the fact that he’s been in Austin, so he’s already probably dealt with the problems we’ve had in the past.”
Williams said he finds it important any UTPD police chief be able to deal with incidents on campus similar to ones that have recently taken place.
Associate vice president for campus safety and security Bob Harkins said with current police chief Robert Dahlstrom’s retirement at the end of this semester, the search committee for police chief, which had four finalists, will be making a recommendation to UT President William Powers Jr. shortly.
“The atmosphere’s been positive for everybody,” Harkins said. “I think we brought four good candidates here.”