Officer Tim Vaca knows the ins and outs of Westchase District

This past winter, Westchase District Patrol officers passed out 2017 promotional calendars to apartment managers, office managers and retail owners. The calendars served two purposes: creating awareness about the patrols and providing occasions for officers to mingle with Westchase District stakeholders. It’s an opportunity relished by Officer Tim Vaca. “I like working Westchase District because I get to interact with people more than on my regular shift,” he said. “I’m always moving around and I’m not confined to one area.”

 

The path to police work

Vaca’s never been one to be confined. A 2001 graduate of Kempner High School in Sugar Land, he joined the U.S. Air Force, as an avionics specialist working on F-16 fighter jets. “It was pretty cool working on those planes and I had always wanted to be in the military ever since I was young,” he said. “I was deployed to Italy and to Utah, but once I had my son, I didn’t want to be traveling so much.”

Another childhood dream was to be in law enforcement. A 2009 graduate of the Houston Police Department’s Training Academy, Vaca was assigned to Westside Division as a patrol officer. Five years later, he became an investigative first responder, a hybrid of patrol work and investigative work. “I really enjoyed that assignment,” he said. “It allowed me to really pursue the folks who were up to no good.” The division was disbanded last year in order to put more patrol officers on the streets.

 

Operating in another outfit

Recently, Vaca was assigned to Westside’s Robbery Division, where he works as a plainclothes officer. “I think the people committing robberies are some of the most dangerous kinds of bad guys because they’re often armed, which makes them potential murderers and they come at people randomly, so there’s no telling what could happen,” he said. “Taking those guys off the street is pretty important.”

As a member of the Robbery Division, Vaca spends many hours in research trying to identify suspects and combing through surveillance video. “There’s a lot of paperwork, but it all contributes to putting the bad guys in jail and getting justice for victims,” he said. “While plainclothes duty is cool, I find I’m on alert more when I’m in uniform, because I’m more visible, which can be a good deterrent, but it also can make me a target for criminals.”

 

DWIs and dance recitals

While on duty for Westchase District Patrol, Vaca said the most common targets for crime he encounters are trespassers and drunk drivers. “It’s all about looking for things that seem out of place, like people hanging out where they shouldn’t,” he said. “What I encounter on patrol in Westchase District is pretty varied, which is good because I’m not just standing around like with some other off-duty work.”

When not on duty, Vaca said he enjoys spending time with his family. “It seems like every weekend we’re going to another birthday party,” he said. “Either that, or I’m taking my daughter to dance class or attending a recital.” Vaca said recently he’s taken up playing golf. “Lessons are pretty expensive, so I’ve been teaching myself with YouTube videos and practicing with some buddies. We try to get together for 18 holes about once a month when we can.”

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