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Spotlight on UT Police: Investigator of the Year Philip Nguyen

February 28, 2024
Sherneka Cagle

Spotlight on UT Police: Investigator of the Year Philip Nguyen

UT Police consists of police officers, public safety officers, telecommunicators, and civilian employees- all of whom contribute to the success of the division. This Spotlight on UT Police at Houston series provides more information about those who work hard to ensure safety on the campuses of UTHealth Houston and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Meet 2023 Investigator of the Year, Philip Nguyen.

 

Tell us about your career in law enforcement.

I’ve been a police officer for almost 5 years, and during my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside a diverse team of professionals. Over the years, I’ve honed my skills in criminal and non-criminal investigations, threat assessment, and mitigation. I’ve had an opportunity to work on a varying range of cases, from minor offenses to major felonies. As an investigator, I’ve become more specialized in threat management, allowing me to develop a nuanced understanding of the intricacies involved in these cases.

Tell us about your career with UT Police.

Before beginning my career in law enforcement, I worked for multiple large financial institutions within the greater Houston area. In my last role, I was hired by a leading global insurance organization and created their Houston division. However, I slowly began losing passion and interest in the corporate world. It wasn’t until a childhood friend of mine, a police officer, suggested that I transition into a career in law enforcement that I really began thinking about a change. The thought of leaving a career I excelled in and invested a large part of my life was scary. However, I entertained the idea of a career in law enforcement and saw an opening to become a Police Cadet with UT Police.

I applied and was immediately contacted by Detective Adrienne Arceneaux, who was part of recruiting at the time.  I completed each step of the recruiting phase and was ultimately hired, along with five other candidates. I took advantage of the opportunity, graduated from the UT Police Academy Class 101, and was assigned to dayshift Patrol Operations.

As a rookie, I successfully apprehended and arrested criminals from an auto theft organization. After spending time on patrol, I received an opportunity to assist the Threat Management Team, where I’m currently assigned as a Police Investigator. In addition to working on active cases, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor and share my knowledge with other police officers/teammates. So far, my career with UT Police has been rewarding, and I’ve been honored to be a recipient of numerous awards, including Rookie Police Officer of the Year. The support I’ve received has allowed me to obtain my undergraduate degree and currently pursue my graduate degree.

What has been the most challenging (or rewarding) case you have worked on during your time with UT Police?

I've worked on numerous harassment/stalking cases, some involving patient family members. It's always challenging to find a soft landing for family members/friends who are grieving the conditions of their loved ones while undergoing treatment. Depending on the case, some could result in criminal charges.

Therefore, the initial goal is to help de-escalate and mitigate the threat or potential threat toward the institution. I work with a multi-disciplinary group of institutional shareholders to develop a plan to ensure everyone's safety while enforcing the laws. These types of cases are the most challenging but rewarding when both sides result in a positive outcome for everyone involved.   

What makes working at UT Police enjoyable/different?

I would have to say the teammates I work with make coming to the office enjoyable. Since we all spend most of our time at work, it’s crucial to build a strong bond with each other. My teammates are like family, and we all share a special bond. No matter if we need help in our personal or professional lives, we are available and willing to always help each other. Although we serve a large institution, it’s satisfying knowing members of UT Health Houston and MD Anderson value us.

What advice would you give to someone looking to begin or has recently begun a career in law enforcement?

One of the most rewarding aspects of my career is successfully closing cases, mitigating threats/potential threats, and providing closure to those affected by crime. While the job can be emotionally demanding, knowing that I contribute to making the institution safer makes every effort worthwhile. Therefore, I would encourage the individual to remember the reasons they chose a career in law enforcement. You get to see people go through the best and worst days of their life. Try to foster and build positive relationships with everyone you come across.

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