Patience is the key to keeping the peace for UTMB officers

At every facility in the University of Texas Medical Branch, UTMB police prevent crime and keep the peace with professional patience that comes with proven strength.

It’s a holistic approach to policing that stops problems before they escalate. The UTMB Public Security is part of a multidisciplinary team that helps people going through a crisis. A behavioral assessment team may include police officers, mental health professionals and other experienced specialists.

“We often mediate between angry patients and family members in the facility to try to negotiate a better outcome,” Inspector Stefan Happ said.

A recent case that the UTMB police handled is a prime example. A man was unable to have certain medical supplies delivered to his home due to a delayed prescription from the UTMB. Feeling that this put his life and safety in danger, he threatened UTMB clinical staff by telephone.

“Our detectives went to his house and interviewed him in person and basically calmed him down and focused on his complaint,” Happ said.

Once officers realized it was a supply chain issue and the man was exasperated, they were able to coordinate with the clinic to get his prescription.

“The clinic actually brought some of the supplies he needed home that day, so he was able to get temporary supplies to transport him to his delivery,” Happ said. “And he apologized for the threats he made. We made a police report and told him: “If this continues, you could end up being arrested. But he was very sorry. He said, “No, I was just angry and worried, and I shouldn’t have said that.”

Not only did the officers negotiate a positive outcome, but the man expressed his satisfaction that the UTMB was going the extra mile to help him.

“A lot of times when we show up, the assessment reveals that the reason they’re upset is convoluted and complex,” Happ said. “They have someone to talk to and voice their concerns in person, while we assess them to see if they pose a real threat.”

UTMB officers have the resources to go to someone’s house, meet them in person and quickly look into the problem and assess the situation on the spot, Happ said.

“We are in no rush,” he said. “Our agents can take the time to try to deal with people with the patience and de-escalation that better resolve these situations.”

Every officer in the UTMB Police Department is a Mental Health Officer certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. The 40-hour certification course teaches police officers how to interact with people in mental health crisis.

“This type of training is typically only offered to a few officers in most law enforcement agencies,” Deputy Chief David De Ore said. This contrasts with the fact that UTMB’s entire strength is certified mental health workers. Within six months of being hired, new UTMB managers obtain this certification.

And they receive other vocational training. A lot.

Each officer receives quarterly training to respond appropriately to an active shooter incident. Last year, each officer received advanced medical training, timed bunker drills and breach training. This is all possible thanks to the commitment of Chief Ken Adcox and command staff, De Ore said. To reduce training costs, command staff members, criminal investigators and support services personnel work on patrol so that frontline officers can complete the training.

“We have increased the number of trainings and purchased additional equipment to ensure that each agent has the proper tools so they can do their job properly,” De Ore said.

UTMB police use the principles of the National Association for Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment to guide how officers solve problems, Happ said. These approaches include mental health professionals. If it is a UTMB employee, Human Resources or the Employee Assistance Program may be able to help you. If it is a student at the UTMB, assistance is also available through various offices.

“We’re not looking to arrest people,” Happ said. “We don’t measure our success by what other police departments might measure their success by the number of people they arrest or the crimes they solve. We measure our success by nothing happens, which is sometimes difficult to measure.

People shouldn’t be shy about telling someone about someone who seems upset or is acting strangely. Don’t worry about the stigma of “reporting someone,” Happ advised. Instead, think of it as helping someone in crisis.

“If you come across someone acting suspicious, don’t hold them back,” Happ said. “We are here to help people.”

The story above was produced by the Community Impact storytelling team with information provided solely by the local business as part of their purchase of “sponsored content” through our advertising team. Our promise of integrity to our readers is to clearly identify all CI Storytelling posts so that they are separated from the content decided, researched and written by our journalism department.

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