After 35 years, police chief announces retirement

Taylor Warren

Chief of Police Dan Williams talks with members of the police and fire departments after a bomb threat forced the evacuation of the campus Dec. 8, 2014. Photo by Lauren Roberts
Chief of Police Dan Williams talks with members of the police and fire departments after a bomb threat forced the evacuation of the campus Dec. 8, 2014. Photo by Lauren Roberts

After 35 years working in law enforcement, university Chief of Police Dan Williams is turning in the badge and folding out the lawn chair.

“I plan to take a few months off and enjoy my grandkids and the lake,” Williams said. “I bought a house on the lake just south of Dallas and look forward to relaxing for a while.”

Staff Reaction

Department investigator and patrol officer Kelly Maloney said he and Williams have known each other for almost 42 years, since high school. Maloney said they went through the Wichita Falls police academy together in 1980 and worked together for the city department for several years. They have formed a good, working relationship.

“We feed off of each other’s experiences to do the best job we can here,” Maloney said. “We both have attributes, and we share those with each other and with the rest of the guys.”

Officer Elwyn Ladd echoed that feeling.

“I’ve worked for him for five years, and he’s a great police chief,” Ladd said. “He’s diligent and a hard worker.”

Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Keith Lamb said Williams has done a great job organizing the police department’s usage of policy and procedures.

“He’s an outstanding police chief and more importantly a teacher. He raised the profile of the department and he’s great with students,” Lamb said.

Serving as Williams’ supervisor for about four years, Lamb said he would miss the trust and confidence in the working relationship the two have shared.

“I knew that if anything happened, it would be handled with good judgment and that I would be contacted quickly,” Lamb said.

Williams will officially retire on Dec. 31, but said he “is too young to quit” and will eventually go back to work.

“I have some opportunities I am looking at and just have to decide which way I am going to go,” Williams said. “After 35 years of policing, it is just time to make a move. I was always told you will know when it is time to retire and I feel like that time is here.”

While the time to spend some time with family out by the lake is right around the corner, Williams’ career has revolved around the Wichita Falls area.

Dan Williams, chief of campus police, the first witness to speak about the videos regarding Jesse Brown's, criminal justice junior, booth set up and flyers being passed out in the Clark Student Center, to the Election Board Committee at the Student Government Association Presidential Trail in the CSC Thursday, April 16, 2015. Photo by Francisco Martinez
Dan Williams, chief of campus police, was the first witness to speak about the videos regarding Jesse Brown’s booth and fliers being passed out in the Clark Student Center. Williams spoke to the Election Board Committee at the Student Government Association April 16, 2015. Photo by Francisco Martinez

His history

Williams began his career in 1980 as an officer for the City of Wichita Falls and attended Midwestern State University for his bachelor’s degree in applied arts and sciences.

“When I started college, my goal was to go to law school to become a lawyer,” Williams said. “As so many times, a young lady changed my mind. I thought I was in love, and she was moving to Houston.”

Williams tested with the police department in Houston and was supposed to begin, but eventually changed his mind.

“I decided to stay here and in school, and then a few months later (a position in) Wichita Falls opened up,” Williams said. “I tested with them and got on at the city.”

After seven years of working with the city, Williams resigned his full-time position and became a reserve deputy with the sheriff’s office and went into business for himself.

“I found out pretty quick that my heart was in law enforcement and in ’88, the Burkburnett police department had an opening,” Williams said. “I was at Burkburnett for about a year when MSU had an opening position. I came to the university as a patrol officer and did what they called ‘field training.’ When we got new hires, I would help train them.”

After receiving his master’s degree in public administration, Williams said he knew he wanted to do some different things and had an opportunity to go to Navarro College in Corsicana.

“I started a police academy training program,” Williams said. “I began in ’93 and stayed until 2007. I ran the program for about a five-county area down and around Navarro County.”

Leaving the Navarro Country program in 2007, Williams went to train and advise police officers overseas in Beirut, Lebanon and Kosovo in Eastern Europe for about 18 months in each location.

“At the time, both my children were in college and I had the opportunity to go,” Williams said. “That was one of the highlights of my career. I got to work with and train civilian police officers from all over the world. We were basically referred to as ‘international police officers.’”

Back to MSU

Williams returned to the university in 2010 where he has served as chief for five years. Comparing the university patrol from his starting career to now, Williams said “not much has changed.”

“We still deal with student situations today like we did back in ’89,” Williams said. “The biggest problem with students is alcohol and the biggest crime issue is theft. Although today, marijuana possession and usage, in my opinion, is a lot more of an issue.”

As chief, Williams said a memorable moment was when the university investigated a “swatting incident.”

“Basically a swatting incident is where individuals are involved in these blogs or games on the Internet and computers,” Williams said. “A kid here in Wichita Falls could be playing a game against kids in the country and even the world, and for whatever reason someone gets mad and tells them they’re going to ‘swat’ them. What that means is that they’re going make some kid of bogus threat to the police and call it in to the local area.”

In February of 2014, the department dealt with one of these incidents with a student on campus.

“We started getting phone calls on a Sunday night about 9:30 and basically there was a statement out on some social media sites that said ‘I’m going to Midwestern State University at 9:30 a.m. and I’m going to start killing some people and then turn the gun and kill myself and hope the media is there to witness it all’ and it had the kid’s name,” Williams said. “That individual happened to be a student here and he lived in Wichita Falls. Pretty quick we were able to track him down and visit with him. He told us about everything with the feud about him and the other individual.”

Officers figured out pretty quickly the incident was a hoax and false situation, Williams said.

“Once it goes out on social media, it spreads like wildfire,” Williams said. “We actually got the FBI involved because the individual that made those threats was actually from out-of-state and is actually being prosecuted right now, not so much for our case because they never were able to tie his computer forensically to the incident here. He admitted to some other similar incidents that he did in California, and they’re prosecuting him for those.”

Police Chief Dan Williams gives a lecture about a anti concealed weapon.
Police Chief Dan Williams discusses public safety on campus.

Department grows

While that one incident may stand out, it is bigger issues that will likely have the most long-standing impact on the important. Now, for example, the department employs nine officers and six civilian staff members. If enrollment continues to increase Williams said officer numbers could increase.

“Our officer staff could increase just to make sure we have everything covered with all the part-time events like athletic events,” Williams said.

In the five years Williams has served as chief, he said they have brought the department along considerably well.

“We have upgraded a lot of the technology in the department,” Williams said. “We replaced our entire radio system a few years ago which should set the department up for many years to come. You have to have interoperability with other agencies, and we now have that capability.”

Lamb said the emphasis on keeping the department up-to-date has always been something Williams has been an advocate for.

“He advocated for the department to upgrade and made sure our officers are outfitted with good, modern equipment and made sure their training was appropriate with policy and procedures,” Lamb said. “Williams took the initiative to correct where he thought we were inefficient.”

Patrol vehicles are also updated and now are on a “new vehicle” rotation system.

“When I got here, the patrol cars were about seven to eight years old,” Williams said. “We are now on a three-year rotation system where we will get new vehicles to make sure we have reliable equipment.”

Williams also added that it was nice to get vehicles, but that really wasn’t enough. He wanted to put more money into technology for better computers and better management system.

The new technology equipment, allows him to type a few pieces of key information to get information how many burglaries or other crimes have occurred on campus. Better access to statistics allows the public safety officers to be pro-active in crime prevention.

Like technology, the uniforms the officers wear, too, had to be updated and made reliable to ensure officer safety on campus.

“Officers now wear bullet-proof vests,” Williams said. “In today’s world, I think it was something we had to initiate. I also thought I would never see the day where officers have to carry high-power patrol rifles in the cars. When you never know what the next phone call holds. You want your officers to be equipped as well as they can be.”

And looking back, Williams said his greatest enjoyment from years of service at the university has been working with the faculty, students and campus visitors.

“When I came back as chief, I really had the vision to of being ‘out and about’ a lot,” Williams said, “but as we find out as administrators, we get so tied down with phone calls, emails and all the stuff that goes along with the side of an administrator job and so I don’t get out as often as I would like to.”

Moving forward

Even before he leaves at the end of the year, Williams had some advice for his successor.

“Don’t come in and make major changes instantly,” Williams said. “Get to know your community and the people that work for you, get a good feeling for the department. Go in and get a good reading and maybe after a year begin to make changes. Get out on campus and talk with the students. Get included and join committees.”

Lamb said he expects to select a committee to hire the new police chief, a committee including students, faculty and staff, soon.

Additional reporting by Patrick German