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Area law enforcement give updates at Denton County Mayor’s Crime Luncheon

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Over 70 people attended the 4th Annual Denton County Mayors Crime Luncheon on  Feb. 11. The event was again hosted by CoServ at Copper Canyon Town Hall.

CoServ Area Director Tracee Elrod was present to personally welcome all guests. Ten Denton County Mayors were present and 17 Police Chiefs – plus Sheriff Will Travis and Lt. Billy Willis (in charge of the Sheriff’s Office conversion to the new P25 radio system) and County Judge Mary Horn and our Precinct 4 County Commissioner Andy Eads.  Mayors and Chiefs attended from Cross Roads, Flower Mound, Hickory Creek, Highland Village, Justin, Lake Dallas, Little Elm, Roanoke, and Shady Shores.  Additional Chiefs attended from Argyle, Aubrey, Bartonville, Double Oak, Krum, Lewisville, Northlake and Southlake.

New police chiefs present were Corry Blount of Bartonville, Andy Kancel of Flower Mound, Carey Dunn (Interim Chief) of Hickory Creek, Doug Reim (pronounced like “rhyme”) of Highland Village, and Steve Mylett of Southlake.  (Kancel and Mylett were appointed Chiefs over a year ago, but could not attend the Mayors Crime Luncheon last year.)  New City Managers introduced were Paul Frederiksen of Argyle.

Our Denton County Emergency Services were represented by Mark Payne, Executive Director of Denco 911 and Jim Carter, our former County Commissioner and now ESD#1 President.  Emergency Services District #1 funds 65 square miles of Denton County with fire and ambulance services.  Our own Argyle Volunteer Fire District Fire Chief Mac Hohenberger is responsible for most of that 65 square miles, covering adjoining towns from east to west – Copper Canyon, Double Oak (ambulance only), Canyon Oaks Subdivision and unincorporated Denton County between FM 407 and north to Country Club Road, Lantana, Bartonville, Argyle, Corral City, and almost all of Northlake’s 44 square miles west of I-35W.

Last year our U.S. Congressman Michael Burgess called and asked to come speak to the group – and did!  This year all Congressmen and our Texas legislators are “in session” in Washington, DC or in Austin!  But, each of our State representatives again sent their local District Director in their place:  Meagan Everett for US Congressman Michael Burgess; Breanne Gonzalesfor Senator Jane NelsonTrish Robinson for State Representative Tan ParkerSharon Dahl for State Representative Myra Crownover; and Ebony Daughtry for State Representative Ron Simmons.

Lewisville ISD Board Members were especially invited, because the Panel was on “Homeless Teens” and school districts are on the front line to both identify these at risk youth, guide them to community services to help them survive, and ultimately keep them from becoming “drop outs”.  Attending were current LISD Board Vice President Kathy Duke, newly elected LISD Board Member Kristi Hassett, and Anita Nelson, who served 8 years on the LISD Board and is now a Double Oak Council Member.

Commendations by Texas Police Chief’s Association for “Best Practices” are earned by 5 Denton County Police Departments:  Argyle, Corinth, Highland Village, Lewisville, and Roanoke.

The Texas Police Chief’s Association has established 166 “Best Practices”.  Examples of “Best Practices” would be a written directive (1) against sexual harassment, (2) for receiving, investigating, and concluding complaints against officers and employees (i.e. internal investigations), (3) requiring a sampling at least annually of items stored as property and evidence – and a 163 more specific requirements of “Best Practices” In 2005-2006 the first police agency was recognized by the TPCA.  Currently, out of almost 130 police agencies in Texas, 5 have been recognized in Denton County alone!  Congratulations to Argyle, Corinth, Highland Village, Lewisville, and Roanoke for your very high standards!

Local Law Enforcement Updates by Denton County Municipalities

Each year several Mayors and Police Chiefs from different-sized Denton County towns and cities are asked to review their law enforcement accomplishments for the past year and their challenges for the coming year – and share those insights with the attendees at the Mayors Crime Luncheon.  This year, small towns were represented by Argyle; medium-sized cities by Little Elm and Highland Village; large cities by Flower Mound; and really large cities by Carrollton.

In 2014, Carrollton had an incredible reduction in crime in multiple categories, thanks to the ongoing efforts of Mayor Matthew Marchant and the Carrollton City Council and Police Chief Rex Redden.  The Dallas Morning News especially commended Carrollton in its review of 2014 crime statistics for major cities in North Texas.  Chief Redden had planned to come to the luncheon and share Carrollton’s methods for crime reduction, though he cautioned that some SOP’s (standard operating procedures) might not be relevant to the law enforcement operations of smaller towns.  But, some of the SOPs would be applicable no matter the size of the municipality.  We look forward to scheduling Chief Redden at a future Mayors Crime Luncheon and benefitting from a review of the law enforcement techniques that he and Carrollton’s elected officials have so successfully used to reduce crime in their city.

Chief William Tackett explains the special Challenges of a Small Police Department like Argyle

Chief Tackett also explained some of the challenges of a small police department.  Argyle has one chief and eight officers.  If only one officer is off on personal leave or required training or one patrol vehicle is out of service, it requires immediate rescheduling of the active force still available to continue adequate patrol service across the large acreage of the Town of Argyle.

A second challenge is funding.  Argyle, like many similar Texas towns, is predominantly a rural town with limited retail and commercial.  This means that a large percentage of its land mass is “ag exempt” from property taxes and there is only a small sales tax revenue.  Chief Tackett said it costs Argyle $28,000 to train one police officer.  But because small towns often do not have the property tax base, they cannot pay as high a salary as larger cities.  So, small police departments are often “training grounds” for larger cities, because trained officers may understandably leave for better pay.  “To compensate,” Chief Tackett proudly said, “we try to make our small police department a great place to work!”

Among attendees at the annual event include: (back row, left to right) Mayor John Smith (Hickory Creek), Mayor Steve Smith (Cross Roads), Mayor David Hillock (Little Elm), Mayor Greg Scott (Justin), Denton County Commissioner Andy Eads, Mayor Scooter Gierisch (Roanoke); (Front row, left to right): Mayor Sue Tejml (Copper Canyon), Mayor Cindy Spencer (Shady Shores), Denton County Judge Mary Horn, and Mayor Charlotte Wilcox (Highland Village). (Photo by Bill Castleman)

Mayor David Hillock and Chief Waylan Rhodes have the Challenge of Incredible Growth in Little Elm

In 2000 Little Elm’s population was just 3,646.  Ten years later in 2010 it was 25,898 – a 610% growth rate!  In 2015, population is estimated at 33,000.  Last year Little Elm issued more residential building permits than Flower Mound! In the last 10 years the town has increased in geographic size from 4.2 square miles to 18.6 square miles – more than quadrupling its incorporated land mass!  Mayor David Hillock said the Council and Staff are dedicated to strategically pre-planning for a town build-out population of 70,000-75,000 people.

Waylan Rhodes became Police Chief of Little Elm 11 years ago.  In 2003, the PD had 14 sworn officers and 1 civilian employee.  In 2015, there are 38 sworn police officers, 6 civilian staff members, and 6 part-time jailers.  In Dec. 2011, Little Elm opened a new state-of-the-art Public Safety facility, including a new jail.  The incredible population growth and land mass increase has definitely increased the call volume for service.  In 2013, calls numbered 21,771.  In 2014, calls numbered 25,661 – a jump of 3,080 calls in one year or an increase of almost 18% in call volume in only 12 months!  Chief Rhodes said that the Police Department’s Facebook site had become very popular with 47,000 views – but only the Chief can post!  So, some control over the content of comments.

Chief Rhodes specifically thanked the Denton County Commissioners Court for funding the expensive upgrade of the Sheriff’s Office radios to the newer technology!  Little Elm relies on the SO’s office for dispatch.  Mayor Hillock thanked Chief Rhodes for keeping Little Elm at the top of the list of “safe cities” year after year!

Mayor Hillock said Little Elm is surrounded almost 360 degrees by Lake Lewisville.  This inspires relaxing days for singles and families to enjoy lake activities or the miles of shoreline parks.  The town is located amidst natural beauty, but near larger cities for an easy commute to business or metroplex shopping and amenities.  The challenge, he said, is to appreciate our current residents, welcome newcomers, manage Little Elm’s incredible growth, and still maintain our “hometown” feel.  An enviable challenge for any town!

Mayor Charlotte Wilcox welcomes Chief Doug Reim to Highland Village

Mayor Wilcox said, “Our longtime police Chief Ed O’Bara retired in April 2014 and trying to find the perfect fit for Highland Village was a scary undertaking.  We knew we had to have someone who bought into our community policing model that our Residents expect and love.  In September 2014, Chief Doug Reim began his career with Highland Village and IS that perfect fit!  We are looking forward to years of exciting times with Chief Reim!”  (Chief Reim was under consideration for the appointment with no less than 40 other applicants!)

But Mayor Wilcox, a dedicated Dallas Cowboys fan, did have one personal “reservation” about the new Chief.  Doug Reim was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  And guess what?  He’s a Packers football fan!  Mayor commented. “So, with tears in my eyes, I would like to introduce the new police chief of Highland Village, Doug Reim.  But, let’s not forget in that Super Bowl playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers, IT WAS A COWBOY ‘CATCH’ ruled illegal that allowed the Packers to win!”

Chief Doug Reim said he realized he had “big shoes” to fill after Chief Ed O’Bara’s 14 years of service.  But, he welcomed the challenge.  He emphasized the volunteer spirit of his officers.  In 2014, the traditional annual Fallen Officer Bike Race raised $20,000 for families of officers killed in the line of duty.   Highland Village officers also volunteered to mentor “at-risk” youths attending LISD schools and sponsored Special Olympics events.  The “Steaks and Stetsons” fundraiser will also be hosted in Highland Village this year at the Circle R Ranch.

In looking out over the obviously relaxed camaraderie of the law enforcement officers present at the Mayors’ luncheon – and the backing each Mayor gave their specific Police Chief – Chief Reim said he could not imagine this happening in Tarrant County.  (Chief Reim came to Highland Village from the town of Wentworth Village in Tarrant County.)  He was impressed with the willingness of law enforcement officers and elected officials in Denton County to work together to solve problems.

Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden and Chief Andy Kancel emphasize Community Policing

Mayor Tom Hayden and Chief Andy Kancel have joined forces to emphasize “community policing.”  Mayor Hayden said “I don’t want the only experience a Town resident has with a Flower Mound police officer to be at a traffic stop.  At one point our Town had the unenviable state record of having the most traffic stops per resident.”

Instead, Chief Kancel is sponsoring activities that make a police officer an “individual” in residents’ perception.  Bicycle officers eliminate the “block” of a patrol car.  On Facebook, officers post their photo, the music they like, the sports they personally enjoy playing, or high school-college-professional sports teams that they are fans of.  Officers volunteer to sponsor Special Olympic events or personally mentor “at risk” LISD youths.  And the Police Department is offering relaxed “Coffee with a Cop” opportunities where individuals can just visit with a police officer on a one-to-one basis.  In addition, police officers are specifically recognizing Flower Mound volunteers for their efforts to “give back” to their community and recognizing students who are “doing things right”.

Chief Kancel specifically thanked the Flower Mound Council for funding the 2015 conversion to P25 radios.  He said the conversion was costly, but not really a choice.  All Denton County “First Responders” needed to be able to communicate – and not on antiquated, unreliable systems. (Can you imagine a police officer or firefighter calling for backup – and getting a “busy signal”?!?)

Mayor Tom Hayden concluded the Flower Mound review by emphasizing his special passion – recognizing and reducing the availability of illegal and prescription drugs to our school students.

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About The Author

Sue Tejml is mayor of Copper Canyon, TX.

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