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Chief Derrick Watson – Proving that experience matters

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When it comes to security and quality of life, it’s axiomatic that small town America has a distinct advantage over its urban cousins for several reasons, not the least of which is a much smaller percentage of criminal activity. Yet, even in the quietest communities there will be the occasional incident that makes us realize that we should always be alert.

Double Oak is a good example of a serene slice of real estate with very little crime, but every once-in-awhile somebody will put law enforcement to the test.

In 2008, and again in 2011, an adult woman was kidnapped. In one case, a couple of men followed a woman in her car from Dallas as she left her place of employment. When she reached Double Oak they staged a minor fender-bender; then grabbed her when she exited the car. They took her to get access to her financial accounts. In the other incident the woman was taken and a ransom was demanded. The good news is that both women were returned unharmed and the abductors were apprehended and sent to prison.

The aforementioned crimes were related to me by Derrick Watson, the Police Chief of Double Oak. This two and a half square mile town with a population of about 3000 is nestled between Flower Mound, Highland Village, Copper Canyon and Bartonville. With seven police officers, including the Chief, and three marked cars, they manage round-the-clock patrol, providing a perception of omnipresence, which is the goal of every police department.

If you happen to leave your garage door open during the wee hours of the morning, you might have a note on your front door when you wake; reminding you how important it is to keep your property secured. “Double Oak is an extremely safe town,” Chief Watson said, adding, “It’s kind of like Andy Griffith’s Mayberry.” Keeping it that way is the role of the top cop, and Watson is more than up to the task.

He served on the Dallas PD for more than four years before joining the Coppell PD, where he spent 17 years in several roles, including patrol supervision and criminal investigation. He worked his way up to captain in the support services area. Prior to his police career, Watson was an Air Defense Artillery Officer in the Army, operating radar, assorted weaponry and missiles. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in history, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, spending 14 weeks off site, living in Quantico, Virginia, attending leadership training.

With only one detective employed by DOPD, Chief Watson’s experience in criminal investigation comes in handy when needed. Moreover, as seldom as a felony occurs, when it does, he generally responds to the scene along with other police personnel. The Town Council hired Watson five years ago after examining 60 applicants for the position.

I asked if the town has a drug problem. “The short answer is yes,” he replied. “However, I would point out that North Texas is reflecting the nation at large with substance abuse trends.”

During 25 years of experience in police work, the Chief has learned a lot about drugs. “I have personally sat in emergency rooms with kids who overdosed on K-2 (synthetic marihuana). They had elevated heart rates and blood pressure, racing thoughts, paranoia, and a firm belief that they were dying.  I’ve also met and interviewed young people who have overdosed on heroin, and even one addict who aspirated, suffered stroke-like effects and is now in physical therapy, learning how to talk and walk again,” he said solemnly. “There is a corrosive effect on the individual, their loved ones and society generated by consumption of narcotics.  I am a strong believer in treatment for addiction and intervention by family members for substance abusers. Unfortunately many addicts won’t seek treatment until they hit the rock bottom of incarceration, with the involuntary effect of obtaining sobriety through confinement and later court ordered treatment.”

Chief Watson went on to say, “In our area, and based in Flower Mound, there is an organization called “Winning The Fight,” which is dedicated to providing information about addiction, treatment and obtaining support for those suffering from addiction.  They sponsor weekly meetings for older teens and their parents and guidance from a variety of guest speakers. Their website is wtf-winningthefight.org or they can be reached at (972) 467-7704.

The long answer, according to the Chief is; “Over the past four years Double Oak has had seven residential burglaries with identified suspects, in which jewelry, bullion, firearms and prescription medications were stolen. Of the six suspects involved, I am certain, based upon interviews, that five of them suffered from addiction to methamphetamines, heroin or the abuse of prescription medications. The ages of offenders ran from 18 to early 30’s. In addition, we had two instances of reported burglaries that later were reclassified as thefts due to drug addicted relatives stealing jewelry for resale to obtain money for illegally obtained prescription narcotics. On three other occasions, with identified suspects, we have had the theft of firearms and jewelry, motivated by the desire for narcotics.”

I asked the Chief what he thinks about the effort by some to legalize marijuana. “I know there are studies indicating marijuana is less harmful than consumption of alcohol or that marijuana is not a gateway drug. However, what I know, based upon experience, is that in twenty-five years of being around substance abusers I’ve yet to find a hard core drug addict who didn’t start with abusing marijuana as a young person.  I can’t imagine that a person wakes up one day and says to themselves: ‘Today is a good day to start using intravenous drugs,”’ he said. 

He went on to advise; “Youthful abuse of marijuana is the start of habit-forming behaviors that include evading parental authority, seeking pleasure in substance abuse, ignoring other areas of your life such as family, work, school, and eventually placing you into opposition with the legal system. If your loved ones start breaking the societal contract through abuse of marijuana it becomes much easier psychologically, in my opinion, to progress to more dangerous substances and self-destructive behaviors. I’m convinced that states that have legalized marijuana are going to see an upswing in intoxicated motor vehicle collisions.”

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.

 

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