Rice’s first police chief dies

Harold “Ike” Rhodes, Rice University’s first chief of police, died March 13 at age 87.

Harold "Ike" Rhodes

A retired tech sergeant for the U.S. Air Force, Rhodes came to Rice in 1966 from the University of Houston, where he had been assistant chief of safety and security and helped organize the Texas Association of College and University Traffic and Security Departments.

According to a front-page story in the Sept. 22, 1966 Rice Thresher, Rhodes and Dean of Students Paul Pfeiffer developed Rice’s first security service “essentially from scratch” during the summer of ’66, and for the first time that fall the campus was protected by Rice’s own security patrol under Rhodes’ direction.

The Rice University Security Department consisted of a chief, seven security officers, a dispatcher and student assistants. It became the Rice University Police Department in 1970 after the state of Texas passed legislation in 1969 that allowed private universities to create a police department and hire licensed police officers. The first Rice University police officers were commissioned by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education on Dec. 1, 1970.

Rhodes continued to lead the department until his retirement from Rice in 1989.

Rhodes’ obituary recalled one of the more amusing anecdotes from his law enforcement career at Rice: “In the early 70’s, after a legendary football game in which the Rice Marching Owl Band (MOB) taunted A&M in the half-time show followed by a Rice victory, the angry Aggies held the MOB hostage. Ike was on his way home when he got the call on his car radio, so he dropped his family off and then drove back to Rice to save the MOB. He directed Rice food service trucks to pull up to the band room and haul the students out, unbeknownst to the agitated Aggie crowd. The story lives on in Rice lore.”

One of Rhodes’ three daughters, Rhonda Rhodes Wile and her husband John, are Rice alumni from the Class of 1980.


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