HPDPS Chief Up For Challenge

Paul Sandman: Camaraderie helps with recruitment

Highland Park Department of Public Safety (HPDPS) Director Paul Sandman knew he wanted to get into law enforcement when he was 20 years old.

“But in the state of Texas, you had to be 21 if you wanted to be a police officer. So, I did the next best thing. I joined the United States Marine Corps and became a military police officer,” he said.

Sandman served five years on the Presidential Security Detail, Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1), in the U.S. Marine Corps. 

“Expanding my career to a public safety officer sounded like a challenge I was interested in. The cross-trained public safety model is difficult but extremely rewarding.”

Paul Sandman

After finishing his enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps and earning his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration and his master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies (criminal justice/behavioral analysis) from the University of North Texas, he started as a patrol officer for the Arlington Police Department.

”As I was beginning my law enforcement career at Arlington, a friend told me about Highland Park and that they were all (cross) trained police officers, firefighters, and paramedics,” Sandman said. “Expanding my career to a public safety officer sounded like a challenge I was interested in. The cross-trained public safety model is difficult but extremely rewarding.”

After joining the department, he spent 12 years working his way through the ranks to lieutenant and commanding the criminal investigations division. After a two-year hiatus working as assistant chief of the Rowlett Police Department, he returned to HPDPS as the assistant chief. He took the helm as chief of the Highland Park Department of Public Safety in August of last year.

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

A broad challenge facing public safety is two-fold: hiring and retention. The shortage of qualified applicants has placed an increased emphasis on recruitment efforts nationwide. When paired with the ongoing issues associated with the pandemic, the challenge has been finding qualified applicants who are interested in a public safety career. In our experience, the men and women who get into our professions are looking for fulfilling careers in a teamwork-centered work family. The camaraderie among staff is a selling point for our agency and most certainly has helped with recruitment. Further, our applicants recognize and have high regard for the strong relationships we have with the community.

What are your goals for the department going forward?

The mission statement of this department is to “Hire for Character, Train for Proficiency and Provide Unmatched Service,” and those are my goals each (and) every day. To begin, you must hire great people and provide them the best training to perform difficult tasks.

What’s a fun fact about you?  

I have run two marathons in my life, the first and the last, and both of those were accomplished in the same race. I can’t believe I thought running 26.3 miles would actually be fun.

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, former 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.

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