The UTA Police Department is setting the pace for other UT System police departments.
UTAPD received the 2016 Pacesetter Police Department of the Year award for the first time. The award is presented annually to one of the 14 UT System police departments for having a strong commitment to public safety and policing, setting the pace for other departments to follow.
Police Chief Kim Lemaux received the award at a conference for all UT System institution police departments in October from Michael Heidingsfield, UT System police director, who created the award five years ago.
The department exemplifies excellence and employs best use of practice, said John Hall, administration and campus operations vice president, in an email.
Lemaux restructured the department within the past few years as chief and created strong relationships within the community, Heidingsfield said.
Lemaux and the department does a great job overall and thinks outside the box, Heidingsfield said.
Since 2013, there has been a 37 percent decrease in reported crime, Lemaux said.
“We have a very low crime rate here on campus, so to be able to reduce it even that much is really a great thing,” Lemaux said.
There are many reasons for the reductions, Lemaux said. People around campus are being more aware and feeling more comfortable to report what they see to the police.
Lemaux said it’s important for the community to come to the police and report suspicious activity before a crime potentially happens.
More strategic use of resources, increased foot and bike patrols, more community interactions and working with students, faculty and staff have played a part in the overall crime rate reduction, Lemaux said.
“It’s really the whole campus coming together and working together to reduce the crime,” she said.
The department also received a $250 check as a token of appreciation, Lemaux said.
The UT System police department employs 567 officers, making it the third largest state law enforcement, Heidingsfield said.
The UTA Police Department is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
“Only 1 percent to 2 percent of all university police departments across the country achieve this level of excellence,” Hall said.
The department is working on upgrading old analog cameras to digital security cameras around campus and using a sky-watch tower to patrol parking lots, Lemaux said.
“I’m proud of what our staff is doing, and I’m proud of what the university is doing, because it takes all of us to make that happen,” Lemaux said.