Meet Cpl. Jeff Paul. He has served on the police force for the City of Southlake for 38 years. We had to ask, what’s the secret to his success?
1.What have you learned about yourself professionally during your time at Southlake?
I’ve learned that I have the ability to be a true professional with the opportunities that Southlake has given me for career development and other training on ethics in the workplace. I’ve learned that I am quite capable of owning my mistakes and I can move on, learning from the mistakes. None of us are perfect, but I know the end game.
2. What have you learned about the City during your tenure here?
The City has a lot more history to it than most people realize. The City was incorporated in 1956 but the area’s history, what now is Southlake, started decades before that. The City has grown from a rural, farming and ranching community of 2,800 when I started, to this modern city that has attracted large, major corporations to its portfolio of businesses with a population of over 32,000 – having started out as a “General Law” city and eventually becoming a “Home Rule” city with a city charter. Southlake has high standards for development which has contributed to it being the crown jewel among cities in Tarrant County.
3. Why do you like working for Southlake?
The City is run as a well-oiled machine. This makes it a great place to work. With over 500 employees, it still feels like family. Employees work together well with the common goal of taking care of the citizens by providing professional services that are expected in this community. I can say from personal experience, that the Police Department and Human Resources has supported me during very personal times in my life as an employee.
4. If you had advice for new employees what would that be?
Know the City’s core values and understand why they exist. Understand that you work for the citizens of Southlake and it is a privilege to work here. You should come to work each day with that in mind in order for you to be successful. Take advantage of training opportunities, as the City provides ample opportunity for career development at the City’s expense.
Interested in joining our world class team? Visit www.CityofSouthlakeJobs.com.
The Mayor’s Alliance for Unity and Culture hosted a Virtual Town Hall on July 29 with the Southlake Police Department to ask and answer questions Southlake residents have about the Police Department.
Watch the event recording and follow-up video here.
Mayor Laura Hill was joined by Alliance members and Southlake residents Anthony Shelton and Elisa O’Callaghan to host and moderate the event. Acting Police Chief Ashleigh Casey answered questions along with Captain Randy Thomas, SRO Sergeant John Stokes, SRO Corporal Blas Hernandez, SRO Frank Rogers (Carroll Sr. High School), SRO Cory Rattan (Carroll High School), SRO Brett Roberson (Carroll Middle School), and SRO Anthony Pate (Dawson Middle School).
“The Alliance filled a complete calendar of incredible events for our citizens to experience during 2020 and had to be canceled due to COVID-19,” Hill said during the event. “They were quick to pivot this summer, especially after the murder of George Floyd. We came together and made the decision to give our citizens an opportunity to speak to us and ask us their questions.”
During the event, the Southlake Police Department answered questions that were submitted ahead of time by Southlake residents. Casey and her team answered questions relating to police policies, training and education, the School Resource Officer program, equipment and other policing matters. Though questions were not taken during the event, all questions asked were tracked and after the event Casey answered those questions.
Look for more virtual events from the Mayor’s Alliance coming this fall. Have an idea for a Mayor’s Alliance event? Submit it here.
The Mayor’s Alliance for Unity and Culture invites residents to a virtual Town Hall with the Southlake Police Department. Alliance members will be joined by Southlake Mayor Laura Hill, Assistant Police Chief Ashleigh Casey and members of the Southlake Police Department.
“The Alliance’s mission is to build community unity in Southlake,” Southlake Mayor Laura Hill said. “We know that building strong relationships starts with bringing everyone to the table to have a conversation. Through this event, our citizens will be able to get answers to their questions and share their concerns with the Police Department.”
The virtual Town Hall will take place on Wednesday, July 29 from 6 – 7 p.m.
Questions should be submitted to the Mayor’s Alliance by Tuesday, July 28 at 12 p.m., using this form. The Mayor’s Alliance members moderating the forum will ask questions as time allows and reserve questions for a future Town Hall, if needed.
For more information about the Southlake Police Department, please visit the City’s website.
The City of Southlake and the Southlake Police Department are aware of and are in regular contact with the organizers of a student-led protest scheduled to take place in Town Square this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in response to the death of George Floyd.
The students have coordinated with the Police Department personnel so they understand what they can expect and, they have also been assigned a Southlake Police Officer Liaison for any questions they might have.
“The right to gather and peacefully protest is a right we support and ensure day-in and day-out,” said Assistant Police Chief Ashleigh Casey. “In each case, our goal is to maintain a peaceful environment while supporting freedom of speech and expression. In this instance, there are extra safety concerns since there are supposed to be young students involved.”
The Police Department has a strong operational plan and a commitment to maintaining order. “Southlake is considered a safe place, and we don’t want our well-meaning students negatively affected by unlawful activity,” Chief Casey added.
“We have heard from many people with differing opinions about the protest,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “First amendment rights are paramount, but safety is also a big concern, and we are doing what we can to let people know about what to expect on that day so they can make an informed decision.”
Conversations about the protest have also taken place between the City and the management of Town Square and other surrounding commercial properties.
Certain streets surrounding Family Park in the front of the square will be closed to traffic to help support a safe demonstration. Town Hall will also be closed to the public for the weekend.
The City of Southlake is the recipient of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Silver Anvil Award for the Most Effective Campaign $5,000 Or Less, Government.
“I am so proud of Southlake DPS and the City for their amazing efforts,” said Southlake Mayor Laura Hill. “They have taken a humorous yet effective approach to ensure the safety and security of the people who live, work, and drive in Southlake. I love how they went about it.”
In early 2018, the Police Department set a goal to “Humanize the Badge” and to eliminate the “cop talk” that often tended to be formal and uninviting.
What replaced it? A fun, pop culture driven social media strategy that would help cement the public’s trust with a nationally accredited Police Department that protects, is compassionate, and engages with the people they serve.
“The innovative and unconventional approach took a leap of faith,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “But we felt the risk was worth it to get important messages to the public in a form they could digest and enjoy.”
“We had a good following on the Southlake DPS Facebook accounts,” said Police Chief James Brandon. “But with our change in strategy, we saw a 285% increase in Facebook followers, which was important to achieving a crowdsourcing approach to ensuring safety and security.”
As the following grew, the posts focused on three main areas: sound police management practices and protocols, the officers’ professional training, and their relationship-building activities. But make no mistake, the approach was anything but ordinary.
People started noticing after a Facebook and Twitter post called “GURL CALL ME.”
The post was a “letter” written to a woman suspected of identity theft. The letter was much more than the usual, “we are looking for this criminal” narrative, as it used emojis and “teen girl talk” to give facts about the case and also signed off with the now infamous phrase GURL CALL ME. With this post, the Southlake DPS Facebook page saw its following double in less than 24 hours, reaching more than 3.1 million people and 1.7 million engagements.
The person behind the video, memes, and fun writing is Officer Brad Uptmore. His Baylor University film degree along with 12 and half years of police experience, was put to work to make the strategy come alive. Since that first viral post, Uptmore has created more than several dozens of videos including the popular Pumpkin Spice Citations video and the Use Your JAR JAR BLINKER when driving on Star Wars Day video. He’s also created dozens of memes including the long-standing joke/reminder to drive 30mph on Randol Mill since it’s a road construction zone. But despite the light-hearted demeanor, Officer Uptmore is all business when it comes to safety and security.
“It is such a privilege to do this job,” said Officer Uptmore. “Chief Brandon’s willingness to let me try different ideas to help people be safe and make safe choices as well as get to know our officers? It’s a win-win!”
Since 1944, PRSA has awarded Silver Anvil Awards annually to organizations around the world for outstanding strategic public relations programs. According to the PRSA website, judges look for programs or campaigns “that incorporate sound insights and analysis, planning, execution, and evaluation. They must meet the highest standards of performance in the profession.”
The Silver Anvil Award for the Most Effective Campaign $5,000 Or Less, Government is the City of Southlake’s first PRSA Silver Anvil Award.
Southlake Deputy Fire Chief Kurt Hall successfully completed the International Designation Process for “Chief EMS Officer” CEMSO, making him one of 134 CEMSOs Worldwide.
This Designation was recently granted by the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC), a program that provides guidance and career planning assistance to enhance the professional development of fire and emergency service personnel.
The Designation program is voluntary and is designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate their excellence in seven measured components. They include: experience, education, professional development, professional contributions, association membership, community involvement and technical competence. The program also considers broad professional accomplishments and recognizes lifelong career excellence and achievement.
“By accomplishing this designation, Deputy Chief Hall has set a standard for his peers and has displayed he understands the importance of the knowledge he received from this designation,” said Chief Mike Starr, “This achievement signifies Hall’s commitment to his career in the fire and emergency service.”
CEMSO’s must have a minimum of 10 years emergency medical services field or system experience as an Emergency Medical Technician, Paramedic, Registered Nurse, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner or Physician. They are also required to identify a future professional development plan.
For more information, please visit the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
These days it’s almost impossible to go to movie theaters where there are no Marvel or DC superhero movies on the big screen, and if you miss the first run, you can always binge watch your favorites on Netflix.
The great heroes have their stories and their fans, but for many, success hinges on having a solid sidekick to help them out, support them, or just to keep things on track. For our Southlake police and fire heroes, one of their most important sidekicks is Roland DeGraauw, Accreditation Manager.
Southlake’s police officers and firefighters perform at the highest level of excellence, and Roland can prove it! By successfully working through the respective accreditation process for each department, Roland makes sure that they get the recognition they deserve for their outstanding work.
“Managing an accreditation process is a massive logistical undertaking for one department, much less two,” said Police Chief James Brandon. “Not only does the process have to be coordinated, but Roland has to hit a pace and keep it going. Otherwise, achieving the highest levels of professional recognition would have been impossible.”
The Fire Department is one of only eight municipalities in Texas accredited through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI). To receive the accreditation, a department must prove its excellence in four categories: 1) Standards of Cover, 2) Strategic Business Plan, 3) Self-Assessment Manual, and the 4) Community Risk Assessment. The associated performance metrics track lifesaving skills and organizational performance. Southlake’s Fire Department has been accredited since 1999, in part because Roland manages the program and works with personnel to meet and document their distinction on 296 performance indicators.
The Police Department is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), which has established best practices for law enforcement. Departments are reviewed based on 487 standards. The PD’s most recent reaccreditation marks the 15th year of accreditation for the Department. They also recently received the Gold Standard Assessment status, the highest possible level. This reflects the high quality of the department, but can also be attributed Roland’s committed efforts.
As with most capable sidekicks, Roland doesn’t seek the limelight. Instead, this humble, thoughtful, and kind man prefers to do his work behind the scenes and quietly smile when assessors complete their evaluation and compliment the departments on being some of the best police and fire operations in the nation.
Where would Batman be without Robin? Do we really think Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, could keep it all together without the help of the very capable Pepper Potts? Like our best-loved superheroes, Southlake’s Police and Fire Departments do outstanding work every day. Thanks to Roland’s effective management of the accreditation process, they have been recognized and highlighted as being among the best, and continue their ongoing work to meet the highest professional standards.
School Resource Officer David Tatsak finishes up some notes for an upcoming presentation at his desk. His office is located in the heart of Carroll High School at 800 North White Chapel Boulevard, his door blends in with other administrators, save for a sticky note that reads “THANK YOU FOR KEEPING US SAFE.” He glances at his watch and walks into the hallway.
“I want the students to be familiar with police before they graduate, because that’s an education in itself,” he says.
In a time of school shootings and increasing violence on campuses, trust in an armed School Resource Officer could very well be the difference between life and death. Officer Tatsak and the administration pride themselves in that they can evacuate the school in and out quickly. They have active shooter protocols that include locking the door, covering the door window with a piece of felt (found on every door), getting away from the doors and windows, and being silent. During the drills, Officer Tatsak will patrol up and down the hallway, making sure the rules are followed and ensuring there is silence. If an active shooter were on campus, they’d want to kill as many students and faculty as possible and loud talking or giggling could give away locations. But today is just a normal day.
With a few minutes before the class change, Officer Tatsak finds a spot to stand where he will be as visible as possible. He knows the rooms and the maze-like hallways of the school like the back of his hand. After all, he’s the front line of defense for over 1,400 students and 100 teachers and staff. Today he stands in the main foyer on the first floor, coffee in hand. The halls are empty, but that will change in a moment.
With the sheer amount of students here, there are of course students that he knows better than others. Since the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, Officer Tatsak has worked about 20 cases. Those have primarily included drugs, truancy, and fake IDs. He also has five documented cases of bullying so far.
The administration and Officer Tatsak are aware of the students that cause the biggest issues. To prevent escalation, he makes sure to check on them two to three times a day, always greeting them, and always calling them by name. He’ll monitor their social media, talk to parents if need be, and make an extra effort to nurture the relationship. He’ll get them involved in projects he’s working on like the upcoming mock accident presentation called “Game Over.” Not only will the student be involved with the project, but Officer Tatsak will give them ownership in it, which brings a sense of pride and accomplishment.
For some, Officer Tatsak is the first time to interact daily with a police officer up close and personal. They can see his very real gun and his very real body armor. Many students only know about cops from what television and movies and gossip have told them. That cops are shooting unarmed minorities. That they’re kicking in doors every 911 call. That they write oodles and oodles of speeding tickets up Davis Boulevard. But Officer Tatsak, like every cop, is aware of these perceptions, and he’s made it his mission to change them.
“I always aim to nurture the kids, though it’s not always the warm and fuzzy variety,” he says. “Game Over” is a good example of Officer Tatsak getting real with the students. He coordinates the two day event, in which a mock distracted driving or DWI crash is played out in front of students. This year, the fictional crash involves a student actor who will play a popular, most likely to succeed kind of guy. He’ll be drunk or distracted and crash and kill a teacher. With the gravity of these situations, Officer Tatsak doesn’t hold back. As the student council writes the script, he orders B&B Wrecker Service to bring in totaled cars, he schedules Careflight, the Medical Examiner, and Southlake Fire to all come out, and he preps makeup techs to make sure to show the true gore and chaos of an accident scene. To further illustrate the fact that every quarter hour someone is killed by distracted driving or DWI, he sends in a Grim Reaper to pull students out of class every 15 minutes.
Officer Tatsak has been a police officer for over 18 years and has seen it all. “His ability to communicate lessons to the student body in a way that’s honest and open is the key to his success,” says Chief James Brandon. “He’s taught about the dangers of social media, internet safety, distracted driving, and the perils of drugs and alcohol. Working with the students face to face helps build the bonds of trust and further show he is there for them. If they have a problem, the know where to find him.”
The tone signaling the class change sounds, and the hallways fill with an endless sea of students. Officer Tatsak doesn’t miss a beat and he greets students by their name, giving a fist bump here and a high five there. These are his kids, and he’ll die to protect them.