UT Police Department Opens Satellite Office in West Campus
By Jaxie Pidgeon
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin Police Department (UTPD) opened a new satellite office in West Campus called UTPD West in response to an uptick in crime last year.
The office is located at 405 W. 25th St. on the first floor of Walter Webb Hall at 25th Street and Guadalupe Street. It is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In February 2020, the UT System Board of Regents approved an $8 million grant for UTPD to make security improvements.
In addition to UTPD West, the funding also goes toward a new policing district in West Campus for UTPD, a High Activity Location Observation (HALO) camera system that will be accessible to the Austin Police Department (APD), and the hiring of 13 additional officers.
District 7, the new police service district in West Campus, established a new operational territory for UTPD. Prior to the grant, UTPD did its best to get to areas off-campus, but now university police have the resources to assign officers to remain in the district full time.
Due to the coronavirus, the new satellite office did not open until September 2021. The goal is for UTPD West to be a location where citizens can have more access to police officers in addition to serving as a shared space for UTPD’s partner agencies.
Since UT does not have enough on-campus housing for all undergraduates, many students opt to live in West Campus. According to U.S. News, 92% of students live off campus.
UT freshman Gabriella Olguin lives at The Castilian apartments off campus. She said the commute to her classes can be scary.
“Sometimes there are just questionable people that you are not sure about, and they make you feel unsafe,” Olguin said.
In response to these concerns, UTPD hopes the satellite office will serve as a site where students, staff and community members can share concerns directly with officers in their district.
“The community can engage with us and come in and speak with us if they have questions. It is just there so we can build that relationship within our community,” UTPD officer Angela Tidwell said.
UTPD shares the office with APD and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
UTPD West is located in West Campus at the corner of 25th Street and Guadalupe Street. (Photo: Jaxie Pidgeon)
APD Commander Ryan Adam said the location on the drag is beneficial for his team.
“In the last few years, we have had isolated incidents where it has brought a lot of attention to the school. Having a location where we can all go to and write reports and take breaks … brings more officers to the area, versus in the past, officers would type reports in different locations,” Adam said.
He said the ultimate goal is to keep the students and local residents safe.
“Everyone knows where the police officers are, so if they need an officer, they know where to go. When an officer is seen and their presence is there, it deters crime.”
Off-campus areas still fall under city jurisdiction, but UTPD officers plan to work closely with APD and DPS to enhance policing in the area.
“We get to build our relationship with the outside community and other law enforcement agencies. If we are all on the same page and we all work together, it just makes us a stronger and a better community,” Tidwell said.
She encourages the community to reach out to local police.
“I want to make the community safe, not just our UT community, but our surrounding communities,” Tidwell said.
“That’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to help.”
Olguin hopes access to local police will lead to a safer campus community.
“I feel like a lot of times people are afraid of police officers. I think building a relationship and understanding where each point of view comes from … will definitely help in trusting law enforcement,” she said.