A day in the life of a UTMB police officer

Jul 16, 2014, 15:28 PM by India Ogazi
Officer Dorsey on patrol“Safety first. Buckle your seat belt,” said Officer Curtis Dorsey as I climb into his police car. Dorsey just celebrated 10 years with the UTMB Police Department this past June, and today I’m joining him for a ride-along and a sneak peek into his work life. 
“Today I’m on patrol covering the east side of the campus,” he said. “Our goal is to show our presence and make sure the campus is safe.”
As I buckle my seat belt, I inform Officer Dorsey that if a foot chase erupts, I will be photographing him from the car and getting the details upon his return. He chuckles and explains that his days are unpredictable. The thought of a police chase seemed exciting to me just a day earlier, but the reality of its dangers sink in as I enter the vehicle. I say a silent prayer for a non-eventful experience and our ride-along begins.

We start at the shuttle parking lot on Holiday Drive. Dorsey enters the parking lot and radios into dispatch, “313 headquarters, 10-7 checking shuttle lot.” 313 is his police officer call number, while10-7 means he’s entering a check point, explains Dorsey. He monitors for suspicious activity and looks for doors or trunks that are open and windows that are down. If he sees the latter, Dorsey records the license plate and radios dispatch to notify the employee. It’s an extended service offered by UTMB police to keep employees from being victims of theft. All is safe in the shuttle lot. As we leave the area, Dorsey radios to dispatch, “313 headquarters, 10-8 leaving the shuttle lot.”
Dorsey explains that UTMB officers are responsible for checking in with dispatch 80 to 90 times per shift. It allows headquarters to keep track of their whereabouts while keeping officers accountable.   
As we move on to patrol student housing and the Fish Village neighborhood, Dorsey debunks a police officer myth. “We don’t have a traffic ticket quota. I’m asked that all the time. Our goal is to keep the campus safe, not to write traffic tickets,” he said.
Dorsey goes on to express that one of his frustrations today is the public’s sometimes cynical view of officers. 
“We have more people questioning the law, than accepting the law. When I’m patrolling a building, I often have employees ask me why I’m here. I’m here to keep people safe,” he said.

Officer Dorsey entering University Eye ClinicNext, we stop at the University Eye Center for an internal patrol. Dorsey knows the staff there and starts by greeting the managers and asking if everything’s OK. They greet him warmly, seeming happy to see him there.
He points out video cameras which he suggested they install as well as a panic alarm. He also suggested a rear-entry camera, which they installed, that allows employees to see if anyone is behind the exit doors when they leave at night. Officers are required to make quarterly safety recommendations. Dorsey’s recommendations to the Eye Clinic proved beneficial when the clinic was robbed and footage from the camera was used to track down and help prosecute the thief.
Next we head to the Primary Care Pavilion where Dorsey uses “verbal judo” to remove a trespasser from the premises. Verbal judo is a technique used by the police force to diffuse conflict through conversation. Dorsey simply approaches the adult male, who is eating at an outdoor, employee only, break area and asks, “How’s it going?” in an authoritative tone. The man quickly gathers his belongings, aware that he is trespassing, and says, “I’m leaving; I was just eating lunch.” 
Dorsey explains that verbal judo is one of the first approaches officers use to diffuse a situation. However, if an arrest had to be made, the entire event would have been captured on video and the audio recorded to ensure that proper procedures were followed. The PCP is our final destination and our ride-along ends without any major occurrences, thanks to Dorsey’s verbal judo and a compliant trespasser. I breathe a sigh of relief that the situation didn’t escalate. 
Officer Doresy’s audio-recording device used to document arrests.When Dorsey isn’t on mobile patrol, he may be on stationary patrol at a guard station like the one at the Galveston National Laboratory. At the GNL he ensures only the appropriate personnel enter the high-security facility and is armed for defense, if necessary. Dorsey is also a dedicated crime prevention officer and spends 50 percent of his time conducting crime prevention seminars.
Dorsey believes his work and crime prevention duties play a huge part in fulfilling the UTMB mission, to improve health for the people of Texas and around the world. “I believe my work makes sure the staff has a secure environment to do what they do. I also like the UTMB mantra, working together to work wonders. I really believe that. It reminds me of my old military code of honor, courage and commitment.”
Dorsey spent four years in the U.S. Navy and worked for a security company before joining the UTMB police force, so his passion for security is deep rooted and heart felt. In a day and age when many have grown cynical of the law, Dorsey’s commitment to the profession reminds us of the important role officers play in keeping us safe.
Keep up the good work, Officer Dorsey. Glad to see you walking our buildings. And that’s a day in the life of a UTMB police officer.