For more than a decade, Michael Morey II ('11 D.M.A., '19 Ph.D.) walked the halls of UNT's College of Music buildings as a graduate student, teacher and performer.
These days, as a patrol officer with the Dallas Police Department, he traverses the streets of the department's Central Division, which includes the Deep Ellum entertainment district and Uptown neighborhood.
Amid a flourishing career in academia, in 2019 Morey exited the classroom and entered the Dallas Police Basic Training Academy to become a police officer.
"I made a complete 180. It wasn't as if I went from music to something that was sort of tangentially related. I went to something that's completely unrelated," he says.
Morey -- who earned a doctoral degree in guitar performance and a Ph.D. in musicology, taught undergraduate music history courses and performed in numerous concerts on campus over the years -- hails from a long line of UNT faculty and alumni.
His grandfather, George Morey, was a professor of flute and viola, taught music composition, theory and history and spent a quarter century conducting the UNT Symphony Orchestra before retiring in 1980.
"He was sort of a connoisseur in multiple areas of music and that's what I aspired to do," Morey says.
Morey's grandmother, Patricia Morey, was a pianist who often accompanied George and also studied German at UNT.
Morey's parents -- Michael Morey ('73, '78 M.Ed.) and Barbara Morey ('74) -- also are alums as are several of his aunts, uncles and cousins. In 2010, the Morey family received UNT's Generations of Excellence Award.
In 2014, Morey completed one of his "most memorable" music history projects: researching music composed and arranged by his grandfather, who died in 1995, for a tribute concert performed by UNT College of Music faculty members and students.
"My granddad had never heard any of his music played for audiences," says Morey, who supervised and coordinated the concert project, making sure that everything down to the music engravings of the score was "in line with the Granddad's intentions."
He spent about a year shepherding the project to its fruition, working with several College of Music divisions in the process. "The whole music school was behind it. I really appreciated everybody that helped me out with it."
While completing his Ph.D., Morey says he felt the need to challenge himself in a different way than before. Although he'd once aspired to land a full-time university professorship, he started to wonder if another career path might be a better fit.
"As time wore on, I thought maybe there were other avenues possible where I could use my areas of interest and the way that UNT prepared me for the world to do some other things that might just be as or more enjoyable."
Morey chose law enforcement because he felt it would offer the opportunity to connect with the community directly "as opposed to just connecting with the community in theory or on paper," he says.
Many of his fellow police officers have degrees in criminal justice.
"Those degrees have more of a direct application to the job, whereas mine's a little bit different," he says. "But Dallas is a very artistic, vibrant community, and so I feel like there's always ways to connect with people through the arts."
A few months after graduating from the police academy in 2020, Morey was training in the Dallas Police Department's Central Business District, which includes the Dallas Arts District and West End, with Senior Corporal Larry Bankston Jr.
Bankston tasked Morey with performing an act of community policing during their shift.
Community policing is designed to promote partnerships between law enforcement officers and agencies and individuals in the communities they serve to address public safety issues.
A couple of hours into their shift, Morey noticed a homeless woman playing an acoustic guitar. He approached and asked to hear her play, quickly recognizing that her instrument was out of tune and missing a string.
"She was like, 'I don't talk to police.' It was a very cold initial response," Morey recalls of the unidentified woman. Nevertheless, he persisted and within minutes "just sort of built a rapport with her."
The woman eventually handed the guitar to the officer, which he quickly tuned.
"I played for her just to make sure she knew that I was being honest. She was just blown away," and the tension between the two disappeared.
Unbeknownst to Morey, Bankston had captured the interaction with his cell phone's camera. The video was later shared with Dallas television news stations and picked up by others around the nation.
A few hours after their initial interaction, the woman approached Morey and Bankston for help when her backpack was stolen. The officers were able to locate and arrest the suspect and return the woman's bag.
"It was a very meaningful arrest," Morey says. "It was one of those moments, I think, when you realize, 'This is a really powerful thing.'"
He says the events of that day have helped shape his law enforcement career.
"There's nothing like being able to tremendously impact someone's life, maybe by saving their life or being able to save them from a significant loss of property. You see people in a different way, and they see you in a different way."