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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Asked to describe what he likes about Frisco, Texas, a fast-growing suburb of Dallas and Fort Worth, Lieutenant Ryan Moore of the Frisco Police Department (FPD) says it’s a very family oriented environment.
“Relations between residents and the police are quite friendly too,” he adds. “We have the backing of the community. People thank us on the street, even ask to buy our lunch in restaurants.”
So it’s no surprise that Lieutenant Moore, an officer who manages the FPD’s special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team, would reach out to shake the hand of a participant in the city’s June 6, 2020, march for justice following the death of George Floyd in police custody 12 days earlier.
“I was keeping an eye on the crowd,” said Moore, “driving alongside, talking to people and asking if they needed water, which I had with me. This young man came up to the car and said ‘We appreciate your being here and I don’t include all law enforcement in the same category,’ so we chatted for a little bit before we shook hands.”
This was the second march held in Frisco. Four days earlier, the FPD’s Chief, David Shilson, joined an estimated 2,000 other people who travelled the same route in an equally peaceful event.
Commenting on the public’s good will and the department’s ability to maintain order during a large event, Assistant Chief Darren Stevens says, “We have a foundational understanding that our job is to serve the people and to do this, we have to be intentional in understanding and respecting people’s differences and their views.”
“As for the marches, we saw on social media that they were being planned, so we reached out to the organizers. They came and talked to us. Our people made suggestions and tweaked some things they hadn’t considered. It was a twofold process, laying the foundation internally with our personnel and reaching out to organizers to establish ground rules.”
“Tonight, we are meeting a group of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to talk about things going on across the nation and threats against them. Nothing has been reported yet, but we are taking the initiative.”
In describing how the department maintains its culture of respect and community collaboration, Stevens says, “In new hires, we look for open-minded people, individuals who are interested in serving the community and accept the differences in people.
“We reinforce this with training in diversity and inclusion through the department’s One Frisco Many Cultures program, which focuses on all of the cultures of this city, including the LGBTQ communities.”
The department also actively promotes engagement and communication with the community through programs that support public safety while building positive relationships.
One of these programs is the scenario-based Active Threat Response Training, which the department provides to Frisco Independent School District staff as well as local businesses and the general public. Based on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Run.Hide.Fight training, it teaches best responses for safety and survival in an office, grocery store, classroom, or anywhere else during an active shooter or other threatening event. A version of it is also taught in their Citizens Police Academy and available virtually and at no cost to all residents, streamed from the FPD’s Facebook page.
“We want our citizens to be prepared,” says Assistant Chief Stevens. “It’s one of the ways we connect with people, by identifying and responding to their concerns.”
In addition to educating the public, the FPD has enhanced its officers’ ability to protect them in an active threat situation with training and certification in Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) through Texas State University.
The department also offers the public an active role in keeping their communities safe through the Frisco Police Volunteers Association. After going through background checks, participants enter the Citizens Police Academy to train for their duties, which can be either in patrol or the department offices.
Though Citizens on Patrol are not in an enforcement role and cannot actively intervene in incidents, they do actively patrol the streets in Citizen Patrol marked vehicles. They also go on “Motorist Assist” calls, staying with vehicles while motorists wait for wreckers.
In neighborhoods that have had multiple burglaries, Citizens on Patrol write down addresses where garages are left open. Then the department mails cards asking those homeowners to keep their doors closed.
Department volunteers work in administrative areas such as police records as well as community service and special projects. About 30 or 40 individuals help with special events. “Many are retired,” says Assistant Chief Stevens, “so they work a lot of hours and make a big difference. Last year volunteers logged more than 2,000 hours, which is the equivalent of one full time officer [or] one full time employee.”
“Their mantra is ‘Our community, our commitment,’ and they are committed to protecting their neighborhoods. Partnerships with our community is one reason why Frisco maintains low crime rates,” Assistant Chief Stevens adds.
Another reason is the FPD’s continuous effort to improve its capabilities in police work and departmental operations. To maintain high standards of performance in every area of the department, the FPD has also held accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) in the areas of Law Enforcement and Communications since 2017 and is undergoing its next assessment in June 2021.
Evaluated on CALEA’s nationally recognized professional standards, this voluntary accreditation effort involves an in-depth review and audit of every aspect of the department's organization, management, operations, and administration.
Training to meet accreditation standards begins early in any FPD employee's career. Says Assistant Chief Stevens, “This accreditation helps assure our citizens that we are committed to professional excellence and delivery of the highest level of service to them.”
Evidence of their success in achieving this excellence is Frisco’s high rating for safety by several ranking organizations1—an achievement he attributes in large part to his people, who work with the public to maintain the well-being of their communities.
“We accomplished this with a quality police department that develops partnerships with our diverse community to resolve crime issues and concerns. The FPD has a tremendous crew of men and women, both sworn and civilian, who show up every day intent on serving our citizens. Without their living the spirit of service every day, we would not be nearly as well received in our community. The line personnel in all our department roles are the best this profession has to offer.”
Faye C. Elkins
Sr. Technical Writer
1 Ben Geir, “Safest Cities in America – 2021 Edition,” Smartasset.com, last modified April 7, 2021, https://smartasset.com/mortgage/safest-cities-in-america-2021.
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