Kanvin Ravin MPA’08

I went to a couple of classes and loved it. I was around other adult learners like myself, all from different branches of government and other local entities. I really made a lot of friends.

The article originally appeared in the UT Dallas Alumni Link

Alumnus Brings a Personal Touch to Community Policing

With his outgoing personality and penchant for problem-solving, Kanvin Ravin MPA’08 has built a successful 20-year career in the Plano Police Department.

Recognized in 2017 with the department’s Officer of the Year award, he takes pride in mentoring new recruits and tackling new challenges. He currently serves on the department’s bomb squad and is one of two Problem-Oriented Police Officers for the Dallas metro area.

“My Sergeant says that we are like Swiss Army knives,” Ravin said. “We deal with situations that continually exhaust the resources in our patrol services division. If dispatches are frequently made to one location for incidents that are not necessarily crime-related, we are called in to use alternative problem-solving tactics to get things going in the right direction.”

In this unique capacity, Ravin’s interpersonal skills take center stage. He cites communication, interdepartmental networking and citizen partnership as key elements in successful mediation.

“The overall mission of our department is to provide outstanding policing service in partnership with the community and to maintain a safe environment that contributes to quality of life,” Ravin said. “We excel at what we do through communication.”

Officer of the Year

Ravin’s recognition as 2017 Officer of the Year came after he played several key roles across the professional standards division and served as an instructor at the department’s training academy. Among his many accomplishments was facilitating effective training for officer interactions with the deaf community.

By forging a connection with the Dallas Hearing Foundation, Ravin secured the assistance of local experts to help officers better serve the hearing-impaired. The foundation also made and distributed placards which can be placed in vehicles to let police officers know that the occupant is deaf — a simple piece of information that is often hard to communicate under stressful circumstances but can change an officer’s entire approach to a situation.

Ravin, who recently ranked first in the department’s promotional exam for the rank of Sergeant, will take on an expanded role as a mentor for new recruits and young officers after his promotion on October 22. Asked about his strategies for success, he has a simple response.

“I just talk to people,” he said.

Underlying this philosophy is Ravin’s graduate education at The University of Texas at Dallas. During his first years in Plano, Ravin was encouraged by human resources director Greg Carpenter MPA’05 to pursue UT Dallas’ Graduate Certificate in Local Government Management.

“I went to a couple of classes and loved it,” Ravin said. “I was around other adult learners like myself, all from different branches of government and other local entities. I really made a lot of friends there.”

Fostering Connections

After finishing the certificate, Ravin transferred his credits to UT Dallas’ Master of Public Affairs program, completing the degree in two years. During this time, Ravin learned about the importance of fostering connections between branches of government and how an interpersonal approach to problem-solving can lead to better outcomes.

“When you talk to people from other divisions within the city government, you learn that there are other entities that have more power than the police in various areas — for example in property standards or health — and that these people can be a great asset in solving problems that the police get called in to address,” Ravin explained.

In his current position, he looks for ways to work in tandem with other government officials.

“You may have two people trying to do the exact same thing around the city but they don’t know each other,” Ravin said. “But if they come together in a concerted effort, you find solutions.”

Since graduating, Ravin has maintained close ties to UT Dallas. His son, a freshman at Heritage High School in Frisco, comes to campus one Saturday each month for the Future Comets Program, which provides college preparation and enrichment courses in STEM disciplines.

“He loves it,” Ravin said. “He tells me, ‘Dad, I want to go here.’”

Ravin sees UT Dallas as a crucial resource for preparing future generations of civil servants and as a valuable gateway to new opportunities for local youth. The Plano Police Department is one of the only local departments that requires a four-year degree for new applicants who do not have prior law enforcement or military experience. In addition, the day-to-day responsibilities of the modern police officer requires an extensive understanding of new technology.

“If you told me 20 years ago that I would be wearing a body camera or that our police cruisers would look like spaceships, I would have said you were crazy,” Ravin said. “We need people to join our department who are already tech-savvy. But as a result of this need, we miss out on attracting a lot of talented applicants who did not have the opportunity to go to a four-year university.”

UT Dallas helps bridge that experience gap by offering accessible and affordable higher education to local youth. When such opportunities are readily available to the general public, Ravin sees the chance for every person to make a big impact on their community.

“You don’t have to be the best, you just have to do your best all the time,” he said. “People will recognize that.”