NTSU / UNT Police Department History
Courtesy of Tom Newell - Additional assistance from Capt. Mike Amador
The University of North Texas Police Department was established in 1970. The main responsibility of the department was the physical security of the university campus. As the department evolved, the responsibilities of the department changed dramatically. Today, the department is a full service police operation with a continuing goal to provide high quality customer service.
The Formative Years:
The UNT Police Department came from a Campus Security Force, also known as the “Campus Patrol”, and became the NTSU (North Texas State University) Police Department in December, 1970. This change, part of a national trend on university campuses, was a result of Texas State Legislature authorizing NTSU to commission the Campus Security Officers as State Peace Officers. At that time, the City of Denton’s City Council enacted an ordinance authorizing a joint-jurisdiction between the City and NTSU Police to enforce traffic laws on the many city-controlled streets that traversed through and around our campus. This was a first of a kind ordinance in the State; it was a direct result of the unique open makeup of the NTSU campus compared with traditional closed campuses in which the university owned/controlled all the interior streets.
In September 1970 the department grew with the addition of 6 new officers (from 14 to 20), and additional equipment and resources for all those officers. Then Chief of Police Tom Martin required all new officers to take at least one college course to get a student’s perspective. Martin said “If we show students a good police department then when they leave college they will know what they should demand in their own community”. Incidentally, James Cothran, father of Denton’s Shirley Cothran (1974 Miss Texas and 1975 Miss America) was one of the first NTSU Police Officers. At the time of this newly formed police department, student population at NTSU was 16,501.
In 1976 the State provided grant funding via the Regional Council of Governments (NCTCOG) to upgrade all law enforcement radio equipment to new high band VHF multi-channel technology. Two statewide frequencies were introduced (Intercity base and mobile) to allow coordination between agencies. Now only one radio was required in each patrol vehicle and almost every officer received a handheld radio. The car radios automatically scanned the Denton PD channel….an advanced technology for the time.
In April, 1978, the first black & white patrol vehicles were introduced. The two new Dodge Monacos sported a new graphics package, the NTSU logo with the word POLICE below, became the door decal. The patrol fleet was still only four vehicles at this time, however, shortly thereafter the two older patrol cars were repainted black & white by two of the officers as an off-duty project. All of the equipment installation & de-installation as well as graphics work was done by patrol officers with the necessary talents.
Leaders over the years:
Over the last 30+ years, the department has been directed by several different Police Chiefs:
- Bob Wallace (1969–1970) director of the “Campus Patrol”, was essentially the first “Chief” at the inception of the NTSU Police Department. He moved on to become the Assistant Director of the Physical Plant.
- Tom Martin (1970–1972) left to direct the Sam Houston State University Criminal Justice Program.
- Jack Q. Barton (1972–1976) was the City of Denton Attorney before joining NTSU. He served as Chief of Police and part-time University Attorney until July 1976 when he was promoted to NTSU’s first full-time University Attorney.
- Lawrence (Robby) Robinson (1976–1983) was a former Sergeant and Administrative Assistant to the Chief at NTSU. He had left earlier to be the Coordinator of the NCTCOG (North Central Texas Council of Governments) Regional Police Academy in Arlington, Texas; the academy used by NTSU-PD and most municipal departments in the DFW metro area. A Denton native, he returned to his alma mater and former department in 1976. He resigned in 1983 to become Chief of the Tyler Police Dept. He has since moved to McKinney, TX where he served in several roles including City Manager.
- Daniel Martin (1983–1986) came from the Oklahoma State University Police Department where he had held the rank of Captain. During his tenure he introduced the Student Public Service Officer. He left in 1986 to work in real estate development. He and his family still reside in Denton and are active in the community.
- S. Eric Jackson (1986–1999) came from the Denton PD and worked his way up through the ranks from Patrol Officer ultimately to Chief. North Texas State University became the University of North Texas in May 1988 during his tenure. Formalizing policies & procedures and providing extensive officer training to help minimize liability issues were his main goals. He now runs his own consulting & training business and teaches as an Adjunct Instructor for the Applied Economics Department in the School of Community Service at UNT.
- Richard Deter (1999–present) comes from the University of North Alabama, where he was Chief of Police prior to coming to UNT. Since his arrival, several important developments have come about. New transportation systems, parking database system, K9 programs, and the new Sullivant Public Safety Center are among them. Chief Deter is a major proponent of continuing education, professional training, building partnerships with campus departments and outside agencies, and fully supports all of his staff in these endeavors.
At the inception of the Police Department, the office was first located in a room in Terrill Hall. It wasn't much longer until the department was given its own facility. The department's first home of its own was modest quarters at 1601 W. Hickory next to the A-Frame fraternity house Tau Kappa Epsilon. The buildings, an old house (used by CID and storage) and a cinderblock structure at the rear, had previously been a nine-room dormitory and boarding house.
In July of 1977 the department moved to the Sullivant Visitor’s Center at 902 Eagle Drive (now the Murchison Annex). The building was named for a prominent member of the NTSU Board of Regents, former Texas Legislator and Cooke County Judge, Carroll Sullivant, who had been a long-time supporter of the department. The vision of the building included not only expanded modern space for the growing University Police Department, but also a Visitor’s Center for campus guests that would be open 24/7/365.
In early 2001 the department moved to its current location in the Sullivant Public Safety Center at 1700 Wilshire St., neighboring Mozart Square. The building had previously been the MARC telemarketing center, and when that operation shut down, the University purchased the property and major renovations resulted in a modern and efficient workspace for the still-growing department.