Department of the Year Award
2018 National Finalist


The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Police Department


The University of Texas Police at Houston (UT Police) is a forward thinking organization, implementing programs that keep our community safe. UT Police serves the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and The UTHealth Science Center located in Houston, Texas. These two medical institutions comprise over $6.5 billion dollars in yearly revenue with over 28,000 employees, serving countless patients and students that these institutions care for and educate.

On May 18, 2018, students, faculty and staff were targeted in an active shooter situation at Santa Fe High School, located in the greater Houston area and some first responders to the scene included UT Police officers. As a result of this incident, UT Police experienced an increase in requests for Active Shooter Prevention and Response presentations from our campus community. This one-hour course is highly reviewed with 92% of attendees saying the class content was highly useful for their job; however, UT Police recognized the need for a more comprehensive curriculum to prepare our campus community for a catastrophic event.

This prompted the creation of a new community based initiative on our campus known as the AWARE Team. AWARE Team members Assist in Well-being, Awareness, Readiness and Engagement during crisis events and reporting of behaviors of concern. AWARE Team members take an active role in the safety and security of the campus community through crowd sourcing support and care during a critical incident prior, during and after first responders arrive.

UT Police actively recruits, trains, and provides supplies to AWARE members so they can assist during a critical incident, regularly engage one-on-one with officers; attend safety meetings; post important safety bulletins, special alerts and upcoming safety classes in work areas; and ultimately be an advocate for the safety and security of our campus.

The AWARE Team program was implemented in April 2018. Since launch, UT Police has educated 3,714 community members on Active Shooter Prevention and Response, 517 on Verbal Defense and Influence, and 48 on Stop the Bleed training. These statistics are found in our Community Outreach Dashboard for all employees to view.

Each AWARE member is issued a Prevention Passport that UT Police
created to help track their progress to becoming a full-fledged AWARE Team member. Members who complete the first five trainings become a Prevention Partner. Members who complete the curriculum graduate to AWARE Team members. After completing the “second destinations,” which includes CPR/AED, First Aid and Stop the Bleed training, members receive Stop the Bleed kits to keep at their desks, so that they may act immediately to save lives.

Additionally, members receive special incentives for completing the curriculum, such as a weapons demonstration, police ride-along and an invitation to a behind the scenes look at police operations at headquarters. In response to community needs, as of this writing, over 33% of those expressing interest in becoming AWARE members are on track to become Prevention Partners in the next few months due to our strategically planned class frequency.

Our department’s shift to a forward-facing, proactive risk- and threat-based approach has propelled us to provide never-before-seen preventative outreach efforts aimed at reducing crime and workplace violence. There is no doubt that without this department’s spirit of innovation and commitment to idealized design and team engagement, our overall success on behalf of MD Anderson and UTHealth would be diminished. Our commitment to innovation and continuous improvement serve as the catalyst to our program’s measured success and expansion to educate more campus members.

Notable metrics show an 81% increase in outreach class attendance over the past two years, 93% of attendees recommending these classes to others, and 98% of attendees saying the class met their expectations. Using these metrics coupled with free-text feedback we constantly adapt our outreach efforts to the changing needs of our community. Through the AWARE Team we have been able to amplify the ability of our campus community to respond to and assist in a critical incident.


Award Luncheon

The 2018 Department of the Year Awards at the National Campus Safety Summit Award Luncheon on February 26, 2019 (Day 1 of the conference).

All conference attendees are welcome at the (free) gourmet buffet luncheon. Join us in honoring this year’s recipients.

View the full 2018 Top 25 List.