The City of Highland Village will be looking for a new police chief. Longtime chief Ed O’Bara has announced his plans to retire effective April 18.
O’Bara began his service with Highland Village in 2000 and is credited with development of the Community Oriented Public Safety model that focuses the efforts of the department on the prevention of crime and safety-related problems.
“The idea I had coming to Highland Village was to put programs in place that would prevent problems and crime from happening,” said O’Bara.
This philosophy, along with the department’s partnership with the community, is the main reason Highland Village has been known as the Safest City in North Texas since 2002, according to city officials.
“Chief O’Bara is highly thought of in our community and in the policing community,” said Mayor Pat Davis. “He has strategically implemented programs and services to manage the changes in Highland Village as we brought more people to Highland Village with the build out of our residential community, the development of our commercial corridor, the opening of FM 2499 and the construction of our trail system.”
Under O’Bara’s leadership, the department has been a “Recognized Law Enforcement Agency” by the Texas Police Chief’s Association since 2009. The recognition signifies the policies, procedures, facilities and operations of the department meet the over 150 Best Practices for Law Enforcement. Highland Village is on of 17 agencies in the state to be recognized.
Areas of Responsibility (AOR), one of the first programs O’Bara put in place, assigns an officer to specific areas within the city. The officers patrol the area throughout their shift and go a step further by knocking on a resident’s door if their garage door is open, valuables are left in the car or the car is unlocked. The officer greets newcomers to the neighborhood and shares the programs and services offered by the department. The program was the beginning of the trusting relationship with the community developed by O’Bara.
“Each officer is responsible for meeting the residents who live in his or her AOR, so the citizens know who they can call on if they have a problem or need help,” said O’Bara. “It also means that response time is cut if there is an emergency.”
Involvement, education and a friendly police presence in schools has been a priority for O’Bara, city officials said. The designation and placement of a Highland Village School Resource Officer in all LISD schools attended by Highland Village students was critical to O’Bara. Programs in Highland Village schools to educate, familiarize and develop a relationship with students were part of his leadership.
O’Bara implemented the Community Policing model through the business community, particularly with the development of the Marketplace at Highland Village and The Shops at Highland Village. A business liaison officer was established, mirroring the residential Areas of Responsibility program. The officer developed relationships with the business owners and staff, implemented crime prevention and safety education throughout the business community.
“The innovative programs, such as e-Watch, Police Involving Parents, and our Areas of Responsibility, are the hallmark of Chief O’Bara’s leadership and service to Highland Village. We are appreciative for all he has done in Highland Village and wish him well in his retirement,” said City Manager Michael Leavitt.
Chief O’Bara served as Region 8 Director for the Texas Police Chief’s Association. O’Bara began the Fallen Hero Bike Race in Highland Village to benefit the Association’s Fallen Officer Fund. The fund provides immediate monetary assistance to the families of police officers killed in the line of duty. The Highland Village Police Department has hosted the Fallen Hero Bike Race for the last four years bringing over $40,000 to the fund.
The policing model created by Chief O’Bara has been an example for many departments in Texas and the country, said Leavitt. Police department staff turnover decreased under his leadership. O’Bara maintained a department staff of 29 sworn police officers through rapid growth in Highland Village. The community volunteer programs such as Volunteers in Patrol and Police Auxiliary have developed strong relationships with residents to ensure Highland Village is a safe community.
“It has been a great honor and pleasure to serve as the Chief of Police of the City of Highland Village. I offer my sincere gratitude to the offices of Mayor and Council and the citizens of this fine community for affording me this opportunity. To the men and women who work and volunteer for the department, your professionalism and dedication to serving our community has always been a great inspiration to me,” said Chief O’Bara.
The awards received by the Highland Village Police Department include: Safest City Recognition since 2002; Recognized Agency since 2009. Texas Police Chief’s Association Awards: HVPD E-Watch (2008); HVPD Police Involving Parents (2007). International Association of Chief’s of Police: Value Based Policing (2008); HVPD Police Involving Parents (2006). Texas Municipal League: Severe Weather Analysis Response Model (2007); Police Involving Parents (2006); E-Watch (2005).