Q&A: Ray Gerwitz on UT Police’s Strategy Plan

November 08, 2021
Maribel Salazar

Each year, UT Police at Houston publishes a strategic plan that focuses the department on our shared purpose as well as timely and transformative goals. 

Announced to department staff in October, the strategic plan both celebrated our success and introduced a new departmental initiative.  

We asked Ray Gerwitz, Executive Director and Deputy Chief of Police, to share with us the journey the department has been on for the last few years and the outlook for future. 

How have the prior two years changed the department? 

The pandemic presented many challenges and many adaptations to our procedures that needed to be made. Our team worked extremely hard to adapt our protection models in response to new risks and operational challenges facing our team as well as the community we serve. There were both staffing and procedural changes that required us to reimagine our staffing models and uniformed deployment strategies. We partnered with institutional leaders to implement entry and screening procedures aimed at enhancing the safety and security of our campus community. Our team also participated in the planning and implementation of our vaccination clinics. Of course, during these challenging times we never lost sight of our fundamental responsibility to protect the campus as we all navigated an unprecedented winter storm and other emergency situations. 

Our department, like so many others, relied on our agility and adaptability to meet our operational goals in an extremely dynamic environment. Going forward as we enter the endemic phase, we continue to be committed to our duty to fostering a safe and healthy environment for all patients, students, faculty, physicians, nurses, educators, and other health care workers. 

For 2021-2022, there is one new initiative. What is it and why was it chosen for this year’s Strategy Plan? 

For this year’s strategic initiative, we are looking to enhance our recruiting and professional development, with a focus on promoting the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will be empowering ‘recruiting champions’ within each of our department’s five Combined Protection Model (CPM) service lines. The CPM serves as the foundation for our service delivery by aligning and connecting our primary service lines on behalf of collective success and improved outcomes. Our team is hopeful that an increased focus on recruiting and development will benefit our overall capabilities as a highly reliable organization.  

For our current team members, we will be focusing on developing the potential within each of us by providing everyone with professional development opportunities. It is essential for the health of our organization that we continue to invest in our people, our greatest assets. In doing so, we strengthen our department’s resiliency, empower our people, and therefore enhance the safety and security of our community. 

The department’s prior strategy plan introduced the Values-Based Policing initiative. What were the outcomes? 

The Values-Based Policing initiative focused on a collaborative relationship with our community. We strengthened relationships and built new ones, and we introduced a Community Partnership Council. During the initiative, we completed an examination of our policies and procedures to help ensure our officers can do their jobs while respecting each person though our core values of caring, integrity, leadership, partnership, professionalism, and innovation. 

Another important aspect of our value-based policing initiative is our team’s pledge to be part of the national 30x30 campaign to increase the representation of women in policing. This campaign aims at increasing the number of female officers in policing, which is so important as it provides an important perspective when policing in a health care community.  

Can you tell us more about the Community Partnership Council? 

Sure. The council is made up of team members from both MD Anderson and UTHealth. The council members come from a variety of work roles and backgrounds and are representative of the diverse community we serve. The purpose of the council is to bring forward any concerns of the community to our leadership to allow them to inform our operations and service to the community. With the input from the council, UT Police hopes to ensure transparency, maintain trust, and allow us to actively respond to the needs of our community.  

Also new to the department is the Shared Purpose Council. Who are the members of the Shared Purpose Council and what is their focus? 

Our Shared Purpose Council serves as the quality assurance and performance improvement catalyst for our team. The council has representatives from all departmental teams and focuses on not only the quality of existing services, but also how we may be able to adapt our service to protect our community and reduce harm. Informed by data, the council allows team leaders to work collectively on any issues or trends. The Shared Purpose Council has allowed us to become a data inspired organization.  

We also take time to celebrate the success of our teams and look forward to new opportunities to contribute to the missions of the institutions we serve.  

What will happen to the Values Based Policing and Shared Purpose Council going forward? 

I am pleased to say that both initiatives are now deeply embedded in our daily operations and contribute to our ongoing organizational culture.  

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