Top photo: Officer Geoffrey Merritt and his son, James; second
photo (from left): Officer Geoffrey Merritt, Cpl. Thomas Calucci,
Officer Salvador Lagos and Officer Hector Barrera; third photo:
Officer Melody Piepho assists a student.
UTSA salutes police department as part of Law Enforcement Appreciation Week
(May 11, 2005)--In recognition of Law Enforcement Appreciation Week, UTSA salutes the 47 officers in the UTSA Police Department, which covers the three UTSA campuses.
"We are grateful for the officers who protect and serve, and I encourage everyone to take a moment to stop and thank these officers for their hard work and dedication," said UTSA President Ricardo Romo.
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Under the leadership of Chief of Police George Powers and Assistant Chief of Police Dan Pena, the UTSA Police Department is the third largest department in Bexar County with UTSA officers averaging more than eight years of experience.
The unit is one of the most educated police departments per capita in Bexar County with more than half of the officers possessing either a bachelor's or a master's degree.
UTSA officers are certified and commissioned Texas Peace Officers that have completed five months of training at the UT System Police Academy. UT System Police officers are required to complete 884 hours of training, 266 hours more than required by the state.
"Being a part of the UTSA Police Department is a source of great pride for me," said Powers. "Our department is an outstanding group of highly motivated, well-educated, dedicated professionals who make doing their job look easy."
UTSA police officers work in six divisions: Patrol, Criminal Investigations, Crime Prevention, Emergency Preparedness, Telecommunications, and Access Control and Records.
Among their regular duties, the officers provide services including:
- Residential checks for out-of-town residents
- Fingerprinting for anyone requesting it for potential jobs
- Presentations on subjects including drug and alcohol education and awareness, hazing and personal safety
- Security assessments of living areas and offices
- Special event security
A 2004 survey of UTSA students and staff reporting criminal activity found more than 80 percent selected "excellent" or "above average" in the quality of service they received from a UTSA police officer.
Survey categories included knowledge, helpfulness, friendliness, quality of service, professional conduct, providing complete information and response time.
Among those surveyed, 75 percent felt safer on campus than off and 95 percent thought the UTSA Police Department contributes significantly to a safe academic environment.