statue of mustangs on the University of Texas campus

My Experience with University of Texas Police

As y’all may have noticed, students all over the US are protesting the Israeli genocide in Gaza. The protest has now arrived at my own alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin. The University police and Texas state troopers arrived in force to arrest them.

I had my own encounter with the UT police back around 1983-84 when I was a student. I had been elected to the student council of the Liberal Arts department. One of our privileges was a few rooms that we could use as a lounge and offices, various of us would hang out there between classes. (Aside: That was where I got my hands on a Macintosh computer for the first time.)

Sometime during that period, I was summoned to the offices of the University police department. A young woman cop was investigating the theft of cash from the purse of one of my Liberal Arts Council colleagues in that shared area – the student had left her purse unattended in one of the offices, about $400 (that she needed to pay rent) disappeared from her wallet. Someone said they had seen me in that office.

I was very likely in the office, but I certainly hadn’t stolen and money and would never dream of doing so. I told the cop that. She probed and pushed and told me repeatedly that she wouldn’t come down on me too hard if I only confessed. I pushed right back and said I wasn’t about to confess to a crime I hadn’t committed. She reduced me to tears, but there was no way I was going to do that. Finally she dismissed me and said we would talk again.

She called me back a few days later, did the same performance all over again, and demanded that I take a polygraph (lie detector) test. I said I’d be fine with that. She kept pushing for a confession. 

I returned to her office a few days later expecting to be polygraphed. She said: “You’re too agitated, the result wouldn’t be reliable.” I don’t know if she ever seriously meant to do it. At some point during the conversation, she said something like: “I’m just as good as any other cop, you know.” Seems like she had a chip on her shoulder about not being a “real” police person. After that she finally gave up and as far as I know nothing ever went on my university record. I was left shaken and furious for a long time, and that memory still enrages me. I don’t think they ever did find out who took the money.

My conclusion from this is that university police are dangerous, precisely because they don’t think anyone takes them as seriously as other cops. Students beware.

The University of Texas tower

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