North Texas Daily

Ed Reynolds officially takes over as chief of police

Ed Reynolds officially takes over as chief of police

November 05
02:20 2015

Matt Payne | Senior Staff Writer


Ed Reynolds’ relationship with UNT dates back to when he began as a full-time student in 1995 and worked as a parking assistant, circulating campus and handing out parking tickets.

In 1994, he began working for the UNT Police Department as an officer. He became the deputy chief of police in 1999. Now, 16 years later, he’s the chief of police.

When he’s not policing a university community he’s known all his life, he spends his time just 20 miles north of Denton, in Tioga, tending to cattle at Reynold’s Ranch. A leisurely day outside of the office can begin as early as 5 a.m. and span as late as 10 p.m.

The second-generation police officer and fourth-generation rancher finds both the labor and opportunity to spend time with family therapeutic.

“Running my cattle operation is my downtime,” Reynolds said. “At this level of work, you stay at a heightened awareness, because at any moment, something can change. [Ranching] is a sort of busy work that calms you down.”

This guides him through the colder seasons, when a shortage of grass and a herd of livestock huddles against the opening gate in anticipation of feed when they would otherwise be content. It’s that calm that has guided him through policy and safety discussions over campus carry.

Ed Reynolds  Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

Ed Reynolds was named UNT police chief Nov. 1, 2015 after serving as interim chief since June and working for the UNT department for more than twenty years. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

With more than 20 years of Denton residency, the police chief watched the university grow from an enrollment of less than 20,000 to the record enrollment of more than 37,000 this fall. He characterized both the university and Denton as highly energetic.

“Even on weekends there’s constantly activity happening, so we have to make sure we’re properly staffed for all the people in and around campus,” Reynolds said. “The work is constantly changing and evolving, and you can never anticipate what’s going to happen the next day.”

Although his initial plan after graduation was to seek employment somewhere outside of Denton, Reynolds was promoted beyond the parking department into a police officer. He eventually rose in rank within law enforcement and chose to continue his tenure at UNT.

“There was no time after I got on with the police department that I had intentions of going anywhere else,” Reynolds said. “There’s no other department I’d rather work for. I love the young environment. This is not a sleepy, tired neighborhood.”

With his new position of leadership, Reynolds has emphasized a focus of increased law enforcement interaction with the UNT community beyond routine patrols and calls. The police chief has been visiting with several campus organizations, including Student Government Association and the Faculty Senate, on a one-on-one basis to establish more transparent and friendly relations.

Faculty senate officer Guido Verbeck has collaborated with local law enforcement as a forensic scientist, and has often had to work alongside Reynolds. Through their combined efforts on campus and with Denton County over the years, Verbeck has established a comfortable perception of who Reynolds is as a law enforcer and a person.

“When you’re a part of a university police force, you have to deal with two main things: citizens and students,” Verbeck said. “It isn’t always easy juggling them, but by the type of person he is, Ed has the work ethic to handle them very well.”

Verbeck mentioned the need to be trustworthy, and doesn’t think the UNT police department could have picked a better chief.

“It takes the ability to bridge the gap of connecting with the student body easily, as well as enforcing the law, and Reynolds does both extremely well,” Verbeck said.

There have been instances of high pressure as an officer, but what Reynolds found most valuable were the times he changed tires for drivers not knowing how to, or when restaurant servers scribe a simple “thanks for all you do” at the bottom of receipts.

Reynolds ultimately attributes the joy he garners from his duty to the “small things.”

In spite of the instinct to become the intensely sharp and alert officer most citizens expect, the UNT police chief said his guiding goal is to push the department to hone transparency and approachability moving forward.

“I don’t want us to always be the reactionary piece upon incidents and calls,” Reynolds said. “I want us to lead the way in areas of crime prevention and making the campus a better place. It doesn’t always have to be a criminal case that we’re involved in.”

When broaching the subject of the contemporary criticisms of police brutality, Reynolds acknowledged events like the shooting of Trayvon Martin and death of Freddie Gray as tragedies committed by irresponsible police officers.

Overall, Reynolds believes that police enforcement has advanced over the years in spite of such events, which he referred to as tragedies, but believes policing has matured over the years. The police chief noted the requirement of all officers to wear body-cams and to behave in a professional manner that will ensure “good customer service.” UNT police began wearing the body cameras in April.

“There have been bad officers who haven’t maintained the standards we expect here,” Reynolds said. “But at the end of the day, sometimes we have to take people to jail and write tickets, and it’s not necessarily the fun part of the job, but it’s the necessary part.”

Police Lt. West Gilbreath, an investigator, has worked with Reynolds for more than 15 years. He spoke positively of his new chief and said he sees the staff moving forward and building upon the high standards they’ve already set upon themselves with Reynolds at the helm.

“In the 15 years I’ve worked with chief Reynolds, I’ve learned that he’s very acute to details and little issues that make all the difference,” Gilbreath said.

Beyond the title of UNT police chief, Gilbreath described Reynolds as straightforward, an effective communicator and an honest part of the staff built by hard labor.

“It was only natural he’d become police chief either here or somewhere else,” Gilbreath said. “He’s the hardest working person in this department.”

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