Taking in stride the challenges of integrating a new university police department and communication system are just a few of the reasons UTRGV Chief of Police Raul Munguia has been named Chief of the Year by The University of Texas (UT) System.
Munguia was given the prestigious award at the UT System Police Chief’s Conference in Galveston this past October. The awardee is chosen annually out of 13 police chiefs throughout the various UT System institutions across Texas.
“Actually it (the award) surprised me,” Munguia said, having been with UTRGV for three years. “I’m one of the more recent chiefs to the System and I didn’t expect to have a run at it.”
The recipient of the distinguished award is chosen by Michael J. Heidingsfield, director of police for UT System. Heidingsfield said Munguia had done an excellent job integrating the various departments to form a unified police department in the transition from legacy institution UTPA to the new university UTRGV.
“Chief Munguia’s done an exceptional job in many ways,” Heidingsfield said during a phone interview. “Probably most significant of which is bringing together the multiple campuses that now make up the UTRGV Police Department and working to overcome the distance barriers and the challenges of different police organizations merging into one. He’s done a fantastic job.”
Munguia began his service with the UTRGV Police Department in February of 2015. He quickly learned the layout of the institution and formulated plans to improve communication within his team and throughout campuses.
“Chief Munguia is highly committed to the university’s public safety mission. He has continuously demonstrated strong leadership with all members of the campus police department and has been successful in achieving unity of command among all campuses,” said Doug Arney, UTRGV senior associate vice president for Operations.
“His leadership style fosters a professional working environment that motivates others to contribute their talents to the overall success of the public safety mission. As a result, campus police have been able to adapt and meet the changing operational conditions in a rapidly growing and regionally dispersed university,” Arney added.
Munguia may have served UTRGV for only three years, but he has a long career in law enforcement. As assistant chief and chief of staff for the Austin Police Department, he was responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of a department that included 2,300 law enforcement and personnel. He had direct oversight of the Internal Affairs Division and Risk Management within the Austin P.D.
Munguia is known for a “hands-on” leadership model and was responsible for the oversight of major events in Austin such as South by Southwest (SXSW), Austin City Limits (ACL) and public safety response plans for events such as the Formula One (F1) racing event and presidential visits. Munguia served the Austin community for 31 years before his retirement in 2015.
“In my 20 years in law enforcement working with different chiefs, I can honestly say that he’s been the best chief I’ve ever had the privilege working with,” said Daniel Valdez, UTRGV Police communications supervisor. “He has an open mind and is willing to hear any new ideas and takes my recommendations and supports me as I supervise and lead my division.”
Moving in a Positive Direction
Bringing that “hands-on” approach to the UTRGV police department, Munguia’s officers commend him for his ability to lead while implementing new initiatives. He often applies techniques he’s learned from his impressive career to effectively manage a large department spread over several campuses.
“Since Chief Munguia has been here, he’s really taken us in a positive direction and some of the initiatives he’s implemented are really setting the pace and leading other UT System institutions,” said Van Slusser, a UTRGV Police lieutenant.
One of those initiatives involves a recent shift change so that most officers are available on each campus at the peak hours of activity for students, staff and faculty.
“It maximizes the number of hours that our officers are here when the majority of the staff, faculty and students are here, and it also allows more officers to be off on the weekends,” Slusser said. “It’s really a win-win for everybody.”
Munguia was awarded a UT System patrol car model and a check for $2,500, which he plans to use on more department updates. He commended his departments and said the award was “a reflection of the UTRGV team effort; this would not have happened without our team.”