Larry Vaughn had never seen a snow-capped mountain before leaving Alexandria, La., in 1988. After high school graduation and marrying his high school sweetheart, Vaughn enlisted in the U.S. Army and deployed to high altitude places. Years later, as a civilian, the mountains drew him back for a new adventure.
“The Army gave me more discipline than my parents instilled in me,” said Vaughn. He credits the Army with teaching him things that benefited his transition to the Houston Police Department. “The mental toughness and physical fitness regimen stuck with me. Some people keep it going while others don’t because they did it so much,” said Vaughn.
Vaughn served two tours of duty at the Demilitarized Zone separating North Korea from South Korea – one of the world’s most heavily militarized borders. “It was very tense, everybody was on edge all the time especially since I was there during the Gulf War,” he said. His experience at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Wa. was the opposite. “Washington state was one of the most beautiful places I ever lived. It rained a lot but there was fresh air and mountains around.”
30 years of law enforcement
Following military service Vaughn and his wife Tracey moved to Houston in 1992. A 15-year veteran of the Westchase District Patrol, Vaughn is its longest-serving officer. Vaughn came to the District as a 15-year HPD veteran, with 11 years on the Westside Tactical Unit patrolling Westchase.
His HPD work focused on reducing burglary of motor vehicles (BMV) which is a top criminal activity he also sees throughout Houston. “The busier the area, the more BMVs we see,” Vaughn notes. “But the patterns have changed. Years ago, vehicles were broken into even if valuables weren’t visible. Now, burglars move on if they don’t see anything. Taking valuables out of your car reduces risk of a break in.”
Vaughn enjoys his weekly shifts with the Westchase District Patrol. “When the community sees our Westchase District Patrol vehicles it gives them assurance,” said Vaughn. “We have more time on the patrol to meet apartment managers and people at businesses to handle situations.” His best advice for newer patrol officers is to stick to the training they learned at HPD. “Training – all types of training at HPD – is huge,” said Vaughn. “Do what you were taught to do and it will help keep you and everybody safe.”
Snowboarding and gumbo
In between law enforcement work, Vaughn plans ski trips and goes Cajun. Experiencing mountain snow propelled a passion for a new sport. “I’m a snowboarder and I like to go skiing every year,” he said. He enjoys excursions to Breckenridge, Co., with friends where he’ll spend a week on the slopes at Copper Mountain.
True to his roots, Vaughn loves Louisiana cuisine. “I’m always on the lookout for Louisiana-style cooking here, the Cajun places, the spicy dishes,” he laughs. It’s paid off as he’s discovered many restaurants and chefs in Houston who originated in his home state.