Bryan police Lt. Dean Swartzlander, who had been serving as interim assistant chief, was sworn in Tuesday to formally take the position.
Swartzlander was one of four Bryan police lieutenants to apply for the position, which opened after Wayland Rawls retired from his post as assistant chief Feb. 24. Rawls stepped down after he was charged with misdemeanor assault in connection to a Feb. 8 fight that injured another man.
According to Bryan police spokeswoman Officer Kelley McKethan, Swartzlander was selected as interim assistant chief in late February. He was officially sworn into office by Bryan city secretary Mary Lynn Stratta at a ceremony that was streamed online through Facebook Live.
“We are excited to be promoting Dean Swartzlander,” Chief Eric Buske said during the live stream. “And we’ll do this [ceremony] right once we get past this pandemic.”
After Swartzlander raised his right hand and recited an oath to perform his office’s duties, he smiled and shared an “elbow bump” with Stratta in lieu of a handshake.
Swartzlander has been employed with the Bryan Police Department for 23 years, joining the ranks in 1997 after a five-year stint in the Army. The latter portion of his Army career was spent leading men and women as a non-commissioned officer, which Swartzlander said started him on the path to becoming an effective leader.
“I’ve been good, I think, at motivating people and influencing them,” he said. “I will have a goal in mind and [be able to] bring a team together, influencing them to achieve that goal.”
According to a departmental press release listing Swartzlander’s accomplishments, his forensic work helped solve a string of church burglaries taking place throughout the city two years into his tenure.
For eight years, he partnered with two K-9 officers sequentially.
He was named Officer of the Year by the Texas Municipal Police Officers’ Association in 2003 for his response to a robbery at a Bryan Western Union. In that incident, a suspect shot at him and shattered the side mirror of Swartzlander’s vehicle, according to The Eagle’s archives. Swartzlander was able to return fire, which hit a sprinting suspect in the back. That man, Mark Kearney, was later sentenced to 75 years in prison for his role in the robbery.
Swartzlander received the Medal of Valor in 2003 for his work on the Western Union robbery and again in 2006 for his response to a Taqueria Arandas robbery in which a suspect pushed a hostage to the ground while holding a MAC-10 assault-style gun, according to a story in The Eagle archives.
Swartzlander also is credited with overseeing the creation of Bryan PD’s police academy in 2018. As assistant chief, he will continue to manage that operation.
One of Swartzlander’s most prominent responsibilities as assistant chief will be directing the department’s patrol division, allocating resources to specified areas in town where crime trends are recorded.
“I’m excited to be assigned as leader of the patrol division,” Swartzlander said. “That’s where everybody goes when they [first] become a police officer, and I’m excited to lead our men and women out on the streets every day.”
Swartzlander indicated that he will strive to conduct himself with integrity while holding this position of power.
“Police officers in general should be held to a higher standard,” he said. “That’s the way I conduct my personal life.”
Swartzlander said the Bryan Police Department has been like a family to him for almost 25 years.
“Everybody is family here,” he said. “My wife even works for the city of Bryan, and we’re raising my children here in the city of Bryan. This is a special community to us.”