If new Bartonville Police Chief Corry Blount mentions Highland Village a few times in a conversation, it’s not because he’s rather be there.
In fact, he’s very excited about the opportunities his new position offers – a chance to create a sense of community between residents and the police, a community he feels fortunate to be part of with his recent acceptance as the top law enforcement officer.
It’s just that after 17 years with the City of Highland Village Police Department, he’s watched the community evolve and grow – similar to what he anticipates seeing in Bartonville.
Blount, who is married, has raised two boys and is raising a daughter just next door to Bartonville. He has lived and worked in southern Denton County for years, establishing relationships with officers from many of the local police departments.
“I live here, I grew up here, my family’s here,” he says. “I’ve watched all of this [area] grow up.”
To Blount, both communities have a lot in common – residents with a wealth of professional knowledge, the budding of economic development nearby and a willingness to work together for the betterment of the community.
The role of the police department is to make connections in the community – positive connections where police become familiar with the neighbors and businesses to help them better understand needs and concerns as well as be able to monitor any potential problems such as a vehicle not belonging in a neighborhood or a window busted out of a business, Blount says.
“You should police with a purpose,” he adds.
Much like Highland Village, he envisions officers being assigned to specific areas so that residents come to know their patrol officers and vice versa.
“They’re the ambassadors,” he says of the patrol officers in the department. “The way they interact with the public is how the police department is perceived.”
His mantra is to be proactive, not reactive. And from that, he means creating connections as well as helping residents and others understand the laws.
“It’s important to stay ahead of it as the area grows,” Blount says.
For instance, he is not a fan of issuing tickets right and left for minor infractions unless they are truly warranted.
“If someone is speeding 15 mph above the speed limit, they’ll receive a ticket,” Blount says. But if someone is driving five to 10 miles above the speed limit, Blount says officers will still stop them but use the opportunity to educate them about the speed limits and the reason behind them – i.e., safety.
“Whatever the case with a stop, we are going to treat you well,” he says.
And, of course, repeat offenders can be assured of seeing some paperwork.
“I’m not here to police for profit,” Blount says. “We’re here to gain voluntary compliance. … I just want people to know – when we work traffic, it’s to keep people safe.”
Collaboration with other neighboring law enforcement agencies is key, he says, especially among the southern Denton County communities. “A lot of the police departments know each other … and can work together in sharing resources.”
Blount believes in community policing and collaboration – efforts that saw a resurgence after 9/11 and again during the recent recession. He cites the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked most recently, as another example of an agency willing to share its resources with communities across the county.
“I had the opportunity to work for a couple of great agencies,” Blount says. “Both have indicated they are willing to help in any way they can.”
Blount also hopes to mimic a successful campaign in Highland Village to meet all of the Bartonville residents.
“I want us to be able to knock on every door,” he says, adding that eventually, as new residents move in, they’ll also see a visit with a patrol officer to help them become acquainted with whom to call, if needed. He also hopes to develop a packet of information to give new residents as part of a welcome to Bartonville.
“Police departments can become a vehicle to develop a sense of community,” he says. “I hope, over time, we can foster that sense of community.”
For now, the new police chief is spending time becoming better acquainted with officers as well as community members. And as he becomes more familiar, he asks the question, “Who are we going to be?”
That question, he says, is key because the answers will set the goals and objectives for the police department and the community as a whole.
“Going forward, we’ll see what the future holds for us,” he says.