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In Memoriam

Chief Thomas E. Engells

Thomas E. Engells passed away unexpectedly at his home on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, at the age of 59.  Tom was born May 31, 1958,
in Austin, Texas.  He attended public schools in Austin and went on to receive his bachelor’s degree, with honors, in 1979 from the
University of Texas at Austin. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served as a
company and field grade officer in Fleet Marine Forces Pacific, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wings. Following active duty, he served in the Marine Reserves.

In 1983, Tom was commissioned as a peace officer and began his nearly 35-year career with the University of Texas System Police. He rose within the ranks of the system, from police officer in Houston to Police Chief of UTMB in Galveston in 2010, the leadership position he held at the time of his passing.

An avid student and lifelong learner, Tom completed a master’s degree in Criminal Justice Management at Sam Houston State University in 1990, and he received a second master’s degree in Homeland Security and Defense from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 2005. An active writer, Tom published numerous articles in both peer-reviewed journals and the popular press on ethics, leadership, organizational development, management and homeland security issues.

Tom was recognized as an international expert in biosecurity and was highly sought as a reviewer, advisor and presenter on this topic. He twice was named “Police Chief of the Year” within the UT System, and he also earned the “Law Enforcement Administrator of the Year” by the Texas Association of College and University Police Administrators (TACUPA) in 2006. He also served as an adjunct associate professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.

Despite his many professional contributions and accomplishments, Tom was first and foremost a devoted family man. He is survived by his loving wife, Peggy, and their daughter, Laura, whose accomplishments were the source of his and Peggy’s greatest joy, pride and admiration. To honor Tom’s life, the Thomas E. Engells Memorial Fund has been established at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Memorial gifts may be sent care of the fund to the UTMB Office of Development, 301 University, Galveston, TX 77555-0148.

Chief Jerry W. MacLachlan

Former Tarrant County College Chief, Jerry W. MacLachlan, passed away in Missouri on January 20, 2015. MacLachlan was the first
police chief at Tarrant County College. He served on the Springfield Police Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol. He also
worked as the Director of Security for Missouri State University, formally Southwest Missouri State; and retired after 25 years from
Tarrant County College of Ft. Worth as Director of Public Safety.


Jerry attended Tarrant County College in Ft. Worth, Texas and received an Associate's degree in Criminology.  When arriving at Tarrant County Junior College in 1970, MacLachlan joined a security force responsible for locking buildings and writing parking citations. Under his direction, the department grew to one of the finest departments of public safety with a great sense of professional pride.  


He changed the rank structure to provide cohesiveness within the force with a supervisory structure at each campus. He revamped the hiring system requiring an extensive background check and an applicant pre-screening psychiatric examination. He developed a training program for new employees that required up to 10 weeks of supervision with a field training officer after graduation from the police academy. He also encouraged an in-service training program for all officers with a goal of 160 to 200 hours each during the first four years of employment. He provided state-of-the-art equipment with weapon specialists on the force who were responsible for training the officers and repairing the weapons.  He issued a new policy and procedure manual for the force and installed a computer system that enabled the force to better serve students.


To maintain the high standard of the department, MacLachlan contracted consultation services for self-examination and constructive input. He conducted a management survey to identify problems as a means of improving services to the college community. He built a staff of service oriented people who participated in community activities. MacLachlan worked to continually improve the image of all campus public safety departments by serving on interview and promotion boards for other college and university police departments.  He was active in various professional organizations, including the Texas-New Mexico Association of College and University Police Departments, the International Association of College and University Law Enforcement Administrators, and the Texas Police Association. In 1977 he served as president of the Texas-New Mexico Association of College and University Police Departments and also served on the Texas Police Association Board’s sub-group, the Texas College and University Police Officers.  In 1988, Joe B. Rushing, TCJC Chancellor, nominated Jerry MacLachlan for the Texas-New Mexico Association of College and University Police Departments Outstanding Administrator Award.



Chief Emeritus Charles W. Tackett


Sam Houston State University Police Chief Emeritus Charles W. Tackett died Sept. 23, 2014 following a lengthy illness.


Tackett was the Chief of Police at SHSU for 32 years, from Aug. 6, 1973, until his retirement on Nov. 1, 2005. He was an honor
graduate of SHSU and a long-time supporter of the university.


Tackett began his law enforcement career in 1950 as a patrol officer with the Corpus Christ Police Department. During his time with the Corpus Christi PD, he achieved the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant and commander. Additionally, he served in the divisions of patrol, homicide and robbery, vice/narcotics, criminal investigations, and administration.  He returned to his alma mater in 1973, assuming the position of director of the Department of Public Safety Services.


During his tenure with SHSU, Tackett was instrumental in requesting that some form of legislation be mandated that would clarify, throughout the state of Texas, the jurisdiction of university police officers. As a result, House Bill 391 was signed into law of June 17, 1987, declaring that campus law enforcement jurisdiction included: 1) all counties in which property is owned, leased, rented, or otherwise under the control of the institution of higher education or public technical institute that employs peace officers; and 2) enforcing all traffic and laws on streets and highways, as well as jurisdiction outside of their primary jurisdiction.


Tackett was recognized by the Texas State University System Board of Regents in 2000 for his 50 years of service in law enforcement, and he was honored with Senate Resolution No. 459, passed in 2004 by the 77th Texas Legislature, for his “exceptional contributions to the field of law enforcement during his illustrious career with the City of Corpus Christi and Sam Houston State University.”  In part, the resolution stated: “When Charles Tackett first came to the university, the department had no police cars, and all the officers walked foot patrols. Chief Tackett has improved the department immeasurably, making it one of the best in the country.”


The SHSU Police Department along with retired chief Dennis Culak, who worked with Tackett for many years, issued the following:


“Chief Charles Tackett was most proud of the students who came to work for the University Police Department as officers and part-time student assistants. Many of these young men and women have gone on to distinguished and successful careers in the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Chief Tackett always kept a watchful eye and a keen interest in their careers.


“The official motto of law enforcement is ‘To Protect and Serve,’ and this is what Chief Tackett did best. He always placed the university first, and he was never too busy to assist someone who was in need.  “Many evenings, Chief Tackett could be found working late in in his office. When questioned about this, his response was always the same—‘Someone needed my help.’”


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