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Towns study combining police forces

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The future of the Bartonville Police Department will be under assessment during the next couple of months. Currently, there’s a draft of an interlocal agreement for shared law enforcement services with Double Oak; but it’s just a draft.

Administrators from both communities caution against putting the “Double Oak cart before the Bartonville horse.”

“Well, we’re still in the draft stage and what’s proposed could change … or not happen at all,” said Double Oak Police Chief Derrick Watson. “We’d [the DOPD] be proud to serve the people of Bartonville, too, and a joint arrangement would most likely be beneficial to both communities.”

Discussions between Bartonville and surrounding communities regarding possible law enforcement coverage options stem from rising financial concerns related to the safety needs of Bartonville and its projected commercial growth. 

“Last fall, a private survey revealed that– of those who responded– 55 percent favored a smaller police department, because of rising costs; but a town forum showed that a majority of residents want 24/7 police coverage,” said Bartonville Mayor Bill Scherer. “So, the council’s job is to find a way to try and reach a solution that satisfies the residents on both sides of the question and provides adequate safety for the best cost.”

Responding to that initial, non-scientific survey, the Town of Bartonville commissioned a team of graduate students from the School of Urban and Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington to conduct a survey in the fall of 2013 of Bartonville citizens. Based on survey responses, The UTA Capstone Team presented several recommendations to the Bartonville Town Council at the December 17, 2013, council meeting.

Most notably, Bartonville citizens said they do not want to lose the small-town feel, so any future development must be carefully evaluated. Regarding the size and effectiveness of the police department, residents said town administrators should conduct a needs-assessment and then communicate more clearly what the mission and purpose of the police force is.

The recent retirement of Bartonville Police Chief Dave Howell, which was announced at the June 17 council meeting, follows months of conflict about the future direction of the town’s police department. Officer Craig Parrish is serving as interim police chief.

“A council subcommittee is doing research on all the options and will present a report at the July Town Council meeting,” said Scherer. “A public town forum will be held in early August and then the Town Council will make a decision by its August meeting.”

The Bartonville Police Department has been staffed by the chief, three fulltime officers, plus one part-time officer, actually working a 32-hour week. If Bartonville service expands to 24/7 coverage, additional officers will be required.

“I have a military background and while citizen safety is a priority, so is officer safety,” said Scherer. “There needs to be two officers on patrol each shift. And, even though we use both our Precinct 4 Constables and Denton County Sheriff’s Deputies, if we want 24/7 coverage—especially with the increase in ‘outsider’ traffic that’ll happen with our new commercial center—there needs to be additional officers.”

Within the next year, Bartonville will have a 124,000 square-foot Kroger Marketplace on the south side of FM 407 between Jeter Road and McMakin Road anchoring the 42-acre Lantana Town Center retail development that will also be home to numerous stores, restaurants and banks.

Watson agreed that local law enforcement services are becoming more interlocal, especially for civil processes.

“All the area communities share regional services such as Denton County’s dispatch and ESD #1 fire protection,” he said. “Several years ago we [Double Oak neighborhoods] had an increase in burglaries and the sheriff’s office helped us address that problem. Now we’re in talks to possibly use the Flower Mound jail facility for holding purposes.”

If both communities agree to move forward, the Bartonville officers, facilities and services will be under the command of the Double Oak Police Department for a financial compensation from Bartonville.

“There will be a [Double Oak] Town Hall meeting in August and things should be better defined after both communities have met and decided if an agreement has been reached,” said Watson.

To view the pending Interlocal Cooperation Agreement for Law Enforcement Services draft, click here.

 

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