Burton named first Wayland police chief
Lonnie Burton has served just more than 32 years with the Plainview Police Department,
and at the end of August he will retire from his position of captain of patrol.
But the 54-year-old Burton won’t be hanging up his badge completely. He will be the first chief of police at Wayland Baptist University, strengthening a relationship with the school that dates back some 36 years.
Burton, who was born in Olton, attended Amherst schools for 11 1/2 years before graduating
in 1972. In the fall of that year, Burton began his affiliation with Wayland Baptist.
“I came here to study law enforcement. That is what they called it back then,” he said. Burton completed his degree in April 1987.
“I took a long detour there,” Burton said.
That detour was not a lark, but he quit studying law enforcement to do law enforcement. Burton joined he Plainview Police Department in July 1976 as a patrol officer.
He finished his degree when his wife of 27 years, Kathy, went to work for the university and one of the benefits was free tuition for Burton.
Burton obtained the rank of captain on Dec. 31, 2001. He also became the emergency management coordinator for the city.
“Emergency manager coordinator has become a full-time job in and of itself,” he said.
That experience in emergency management could be one of the biggest factors in Wayland’s decision to hire Burton.
“There is so much stuff happening at campuses across the country that parents wanted to make sure their students are safe,” he said.
In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy in 2006, the Texas Legislature passed a law enabling private colleges like Wayland to commission and maintain a police force.
“Up until then only state schools could do that,” said Burton.
Burton said of his new position, “It’s going to be some of the same things with the policing and emergency coordination, but it was a challenge that I wanted to try.”
Burton will certainly not be a new face around the Wayland campus. He has been doing late night security and security at sporting events for close to 15 years.
“I’ve been affiliated with the school in one capacity or another since ’72. This is one way I can give back to the university,” he said.
In the beginning, Burton will be a one-man force.
“The state will have to come and do some investigating and procedural kinds of things, but I know that Wayland wants to add at least one more full-time officer other than myself,” he said.
Until the school has a complete force, off-duty officers who have been doing overnight security duty will continue those patrols.
Burton said his co-workers are going to be what he misses most about his position at the police department.
“It’s not like I’m going a long way away,” Burton said. “But it’s going to be the everyday interaction that I’ll miss.”
Plainview Police Chief William Mull said, “We hate to see Lonnie leave. He’s been a really big asset to the police department.”
Noting that Burton has served in so many capacities at the Plainview PD, Mull feels Wayland made a wise choice in having Burton head up the new police department.
“The university will benefit greatly from Lonnie’s expertise and experience,” said Mull.
Burton said what he won’t miss will be the little things that can easily become major irritants.
“The major things that are always going on really don’t bother me, it’s the minor things like paperwork and administration that become irritating,” he said.
As chief, however, Burton realizes that the paperwork will not be going away.