New university police chief focuses on community policing

Todd Kleiboer, Co-Editor

Todd Kleiboer
New UPD Chief Brian Vaughn spent 12 years as assistant chief and 20 years total working for the department.

By Todd Kleiboer | Co-Editor

Since taking over as University Police Department chief Sept. 1 after Donna Spinato retired, Brian Vaughn, who has worked at UPD for 20 years, has implemented new initiatives and continued those from Spinato.

“Some of the issues that I feel, that as a department, we need to look at are our focus on community policing,” Vaughn said. “We have been focused on that for a long time, but I’m really think that we need to concentrate more on that.”

Community policing is, as defined by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, “a collaboration between the police and the community that identifies and solves community problems”. Vaughn said that police officers should be “involved within the community” and should “know the people they’re serving and protecting.”

A task that Vaughn set for his employees is to find something outside of work in the community and become involved in it, and this is something he addressed in a department-wide meeting not long ago, according to Crime Information Officer Lt. Jason Bone.

“This actually ties back into the community police concept,” Bone said. “It’s kind of a challenge to not only while you’re at work but off work become involved in the community and so forth.”

In addition to increased attention to community policing, Vaughn has also changed the internal reporting structure to be more spread out. Instead of every unit reporting to the assistance chief who then reports to the chief, two lieutenants (Bone and Glenn McCull) were added under the assistant chief.

“I was the assistant chief for 12 years, and patrol, dispatch, security, and C.I.D. (Criminal Investigations) all reported to me,” Vaughn said. “What we’ve done is we’ve separated some of those duties. Lt. Bone is over communications and Clery, and Lt. McCull has patrol, C.I.D., and security.”

Vaughn gave credit for Spinato for driving the department in a positive direction by adding new officers and installing better equipment, something that, according to Vaughn, changed UPD as a whole.

“A lot of things we having going on right now are directly associated with initiatives that she started,” Vaughn said. “The entire attitude of the department is a direct reflection of her leadership.”

Vaughn, an A&M-Commerce alumnus himself, recognized that UPD serves a specialized community with certain needs, and he stressed that many officers are deeply connected to TAMUC and its community.

“We are looking for the best of the best; to hire the best of what we can hire, that is what we try to go out for,” Vaughn said. “We are looking for the best people who can fit into this specialized community and their needs.”

In working together with campus and city partners, Vaughn looked to create a “partnership for safety” that benefits the A&M-Commerce community.

“We are involved just about every facet of the university,” Vaughn said. “We work well with all of those people.”

UPD will host National Night Out at the Phase II courtyard Oct. 23 from 6-8 p.m., and Vaughn invited students to come and enjoy the free food and games. One year, in fact, an officer accidentally knocked over a light pole with his patrol car at National Night Out.

“It happens,” Bone said with a chuckle.