New UP Police Chief ‘Always Drawn To Public Service’

Bill Mathes sees recruiting, hiring new officers as a challenge going forward

Bill Mathes took over as University Park’s police chief in December after the retirement of former longtime chief Greg Spradlin, who spent more than 16 years with the city.

Mathes said he’s lived in North Texas for most of his life, except for attending high school in Princeton, New Jersey, and getting his bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He also received a master of science degree in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati and a master of business administration degree from the University of Texas at Dallas.

“We also may not have the luxury of luring experienced candidates from other departments as easily as we have in the past.”

Bill Mathes

“Immediately after college, I applied and got hired at the Dallas Police Department,” he said. “After the Academy, I was assigned to the Southeast Patrol Division where I worked on the midnight-8 a.m. shift for six years.”

Mathes joined the University Park Police Department in January 1997 as a patrol officer, was promoted to sergeant in 2006 and captain in 2013. 

He served as police support services captain and operations division captain before his promotion to assistant chief in September of 2019.

“After spending six years as a patrol officer for the Dallas Police Department, I was looking for a change that would allow me more opportunities for community policing,” Mathes said. “DPD is an outstanding department, and I will always value the experiences and friendships I had there, but University Park provided the small-town environment that I wanted to serve in.

What inspired you to get into law enforcement? 

I was always drawn to public service but spent most of my college years thinking I would go into education. In my final semester, I lost interest in that when I saw an advertisement for the Atlanta Police Department hiring officers. It got me thinking about new ways to serve the community, and I thought local law enforcement would be a great way to do that. I originally wanted to use that initial experience to gain a law enforcement job at the federal level but enjoyed the local work and decided that was where I belonged.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the department in 2021, and how you plan to help tackle them? 

I think the biggest challenge facing the UPPD and most other departments right now is in recruiting and hiring. 2020 was an extremely challenging year for law enforcement, and it is becoming more difficult to fill our ranks with interested, qualified people. . . We have had to re-think our approach to recruiting and need to be more proactive going forward. We also may not have the luxury of luring experienced candidates from other departments as easily as we have in the past. What this means is that we need to be more open to hiring inexperienced people and sending them to the Academy. Although there is a greater element of the unknown in that approach, if we do our due diligence in our background investigations, we can take good people and make them good police officers.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I have three grandchildren. That may not seem fun to anyone else but I think it is! My name was originally going to be “Poppy” but my granddaughter could only say “Pop Pop.” If that was good enough for her then it was good enough for me!

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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