It’s been said that a policeman’s lot is not a happy one. Don’t tell that to our new police chief in Flower Mound.
Andy Kancel, a 24-year law-enforcement veteran, began as a patrolman in North Richland Hills in 1989. Seventeen years later he had worked his way up to assistant chief of that Tarrant County city that has population numbers similar to those of our town.
Chief Kancel says he will always have fond memories of his early career, but he’s eagerly looking forward to the challenges in his new job.
“One of the things I really like about Flower Mound is that the community is so engaged,” he said. “Democracy belongs to those that show up. When people take the time to learn what’s going on in their community and work toward its improvement, they perform a service for everyone,” he added.
The chief says he’ll be very visible in the area, often accompanying his officers on patrol. “The best and quickest way to learn about this town is to ride along with officers who know the terrain, including the residents and the business owners.”
Kancel, who was selected after a national search through more than 60 applications, began his official duties after being sworn in on November 4. He replaced Kenneth Brooker, who retired in June after 30 years with FMPD, 14 years as its chief. The 51 year-old takes over for David James, who acted as the interim chief for the past four months.
Our new top cop is a summa cum laude graduate of Mountain State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. Currently, he’s working toward a master’s degree in administrative leadership from Oklahoma University. I could go on about his credentials, but you can Google all that stuff. What you really want to know is his philosophy of police work and how it will affect you, the residents.
Well, after spending some time with him over coffee and cake (no, not donuts) at my home, I can tell you that he’s a reflection of our gregarious town manager, who ultimately chose him for the job. The chief is affable and eminently approachable, while exhibiting a profound understanding of the critical role between the police and the citizenry.
“We can’t do our job effectively without the cooperation of the public,” he said with the sincerity of a man who learned his craft by finding common ground with the community he served.
In his former role he led a citywide cooperative, called a Beat Management Plan, which reduced crime by 12 percent and police response time by 17 percent. In addition, he was instrumental in developing a holiday enforcement unit that resulted in a 23 percent reduction in seasonal crime, which included a 40 percent drop in vehicular burglaries.
When asked what type of crime is most prevalent in our town, he answered without hesitation, “property.” He went on to say that residents can prevent a lot of crime by simply being careful to lock vehicles that are parked outdoors overnight. The same applies when shopping and leaving valuables in plain sight in a vehicle.
On a popular social networking site, some residents have referred to a national poll that designated Flower Mound as the number one speed trap in the country. Chief Kancel said he questions the way the poll was taken because our town’s traffic control measures don’t meet the parameters for a speed trap. Moreover, he said records indicate that Flower Mound police have issued substantially less traffic tickets during the last couple of years.
“Every sensible person knows that we need rules for the road, otherwise it would be too dangerous to get behind the wheel,” he said. “However, the motorist must be able to view the police as fair and impartial, rather than as revenue producers,” he continued.
“I want my officers to know that everything we have is because of the community. We need to enforce the laws while maintaining the respect and trust of the people we serve,” he added with obvious conviction in his voice. He had praise for the FMPD Civilian Patrol Program, referring to them as “the extra eyes and ears we need to do our job.” Furthermore, he feels the Chaplain Corp is a significant tool to assist with counseling to officers and civilians who have been exposed to traumatic incidents.
Andy Kancel is instantly likeable, perhaps because he demonstrates a soft-spoken, but genuine sense of humor, combined with a humble approach to a very demanding profession. “I’m a husband and father first,” he said. “After that, my focus will be on serving this town to the best of my ability.” Those are sentiments that our family-oriented community can cheerfully embrace. Additionally, given his admiration for residents who are actively involved in their communities, I think Andy is the perfect fit for us.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.