Fire station tours have been an important bond between residents and the City of Southlake Department of Public Safety. However, COVID-19 restrictions hindered how the Fire Department continued to deliver this educational service to residents.
Calendar coordination, time constraints, social distancing guidelines and even making sure those on the tour were able to see more than just offices were all considered as the team brainstormed how to continue to bring every day public education to the community.
“The message wasn’t going to change. We had to change the medium to continue to deliver our quality services and engage the community,” Southlake Public Information Officer Brad Uptmore said. “Throughout our planning, my goal was to engage viewers with a Disney World-like ride so that the education aspect stuck and people would continue watching to the very end.”
The team tested a virtual tour on groups before planning a virtual tour video for social media. Filming took place on two Mondays and included more than 20 people. Editing and finalizing the video took 2-3 weeks.
“The coordination for completion was complicated. We don’t have a dedicated film crew to put videos like this together,” Fire Prevention Officer Renni Burt said. “It was a team effort and everyone participated to make a great video that was entertaining and educational for children and adults.”
The final product combined an interactive infomercial with Uptmore’s creative concept of an amusement park ride to create a digital version of a fire station tour that was entertaining enough to keep viewers glued to the video for seven minutes.
They video was also recognized as one of the reasons the Southlake DPS Facebook page received the Government Social Media’s Facebook Favorite Award.
“We’re still here and still working for the community. The work Brad and Renni have done to stay connected to our community virtually and continue to promote public education and events has been imperative to making the lives of our residents safer,” Fire Chief Mike Starr said.
Through our Southlake values of Teamwork and Innovation, Uptmore and Burt delivered a memorable experience for the Southlake community.
For more information about the Southlake Fire Department, visit: www.CityofSouthlake.com/Fire.
Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law banning the use of red light cameras on June 1, 2019. Under the new law, the City’s red light camera program immediately ceased operation.
The City has formally notified Redflex Traffic Systems, the company contracted by the City to operate the cameras, to cease operations and terminate the contract. The contract allows for the City to terminate immediately once the State ban occurred.
No further payments for violations will be processed.
Southlake has four cameras. In the coming weeks, the City will work with Redflex to have the cameras removed from the following locations:
Southlake Boulevard @ Pearson Lane
Southlake Boulevard @ Kimball Avenue
Southlake Boulevard @ Carroll Avenue
Southlake Boulevard @ Peytonville Avenue
Notifications for the minor traffic disruption, while the cameras are being removed, will be shared on social media once dates are selected.
While money from the red light cameras was included as part of the budget, the total dollars were split three ways. Redflex took 50 percent for processing, 25 percent went to the State of Texas and the remaining 25 percent went to Southlake where funds supported traffic safety initiatives such as school zone striping and maintenance.
“The removal of the red light cameras will not impact our efforts to protect Southlake,” notes Southlake Police Chief James Brandon. “We will continue with our work to keep our intersections as safe as possible. Our Traffic and Patrol Divisions work diligently every day to help ensure the traveling public in Southlake reaches their destinations safely.”
For questions about red light cameras visit the red light camera webpage on the City’s website.
The Southlake Police Department recently designated an area outside the department as an ‘Exchange Zone’ for Southlake Residents. The designated area is two parking spaces that are now available with posted signs that read, “Exchange Zone, This Area is Under 24-hour Surveillance.”
The ‘Exchange Zone’ can be used for child custody exchanges, as well as the exchange of items bought or sold by individuals. The parking spaces are located on the southeast corner of DPS Headquarters (600 State Street) in the last two spaces on the far right row on Division Street. Chief James Brandon said, “Residents have sometimes used the police department for such exchanges and have asked to have a designated area. We are always happy to partner with our citizens in order to keep them as safe as possible.”
In addition, residents can always use the front lobby of the Southlake Police Department for exchanges. The front lobby is staffed by a licensed Peace Officer Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Although the Southlake Police Department encourages the use of the designated parking areas for exchanges, we ask that citizens always exercise good judgment in their interaction with strangers.
How do you sum up the career of a man that spans fifty plus years in public safety? It’s not easy. You have to go back to 1961 when Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal David Barnes was a teenager living in Grapevine.
He served as a Grapevine Volunteer Firefighter and also would ride out with patrol officers in the evening. He continued serving as a volunteer in Grapevine until the late sixties.
Barnes then moved on to become a full-time police officer with the City of North Richland Hills. Within a few years at NRHPD he was promoted to Sergeant and worked as a detective. But his career really heated up when he was asked to join the Tarrant County Criminal Task Force while working for NRHPD.
Barnes recalls a few high profile cases involving organized crime in Tarrant County. One particular case revolved around an informant who was trying to play both sides against the middle. Barnes said, “The informant told law enforcement that the drug smugglers said to tell police they were coming heavily armed and wouldn’t be taken alive. We told the informant to tell the smugglers that officers would be heavily armed and we would take no prisoners if fired upon. The task force got into position waiting for the plane to land that was carrying the drugs and the smugglers. The plane came in and landed at Spinks Air Field and we swarmed it. Ultimately it ended peacefully and no shots were fired.”
Barnes recalls another time when he was still a police officer. He was involved in a situation at his own apartment complex in Dallas. Seems some neighbors were operating a theft ring out of their apartment. Police raided them one night and knowing that Barnes lived nearby they asked him to stay in the gang’s apartment in case any other bad guys showed up. Barnes said, “I called my Chief at the time and he decided to come over and sit with me just to be on the safe side. Sure enough, a man and a woman came into the apartment
and when they saw us they took off and we took off after them. We rounded a corner when suddenly shots rang out from a nearby vehicle. We hit the dirt and returned fire back at
the vehicle! Within minutes more police officers and the police helicopter swooped in and began scouring the area for the pair. The vehicle was later found abandoned in another part of town with blood in it. It’s not the first time I had been shot at. I can tell you I’ve eaten plenty of dirt in my days!”
It was about this time, that Barnes went to work for the DFW Airport. He started there in 1973 and served ten years as a Motorcycle Officer as well as an Investigator and Assistant Fire Marshal in the Fire Prevention Division. DFW required DPS officers to be dual certified as Police officer, Firefighter and EMT. One of the primary focuses at the time at DFW Airport was Air Piracy and Barnes was all over it. Barnes recalls another story while working at the airport. He was called to assist at an airport security check. It seems the x-ray screener kept showing several weapons in a passenger’s bag but the screeners couldn’t locate them. Barnes said, “We’d run it through and would see weapons. We’d take the bag apart, run it through and no guns. We’d repack the bag and once again the guns appeared. I looked at everything in the bag and all items were cleared and packages appeared to be factory sealed. That’s when I decided to start opening the packages. Sure enough, there were three boxes of Bisquick and inside each one was a gun. That was definitely a first for me. More importantly it kept three weapons off the airplane.”
During his tenure he played a key role in helping to develop the Arson Information Management System (AIMS) now known as BATS or Bomb Arson Tracking System. Barnes even traveled to Washington, D.C. to work with the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agency to lobby for changes that would help the national database work as it was intended. Barnes said, “I got a little pushback from the ATF but eventually they came around and realized what I was telling them was the only way the database system would truly be effective and enhance public safety.”
It’s easy to see that public safety has always been at the center of everything David Barnes does. Whether he was on the police side or fire side, public safety has ranked high on the list. It has always been so much a part of him that around 1980, while still working at DFW, Barnes began volunteering with the Southlake Fire Department. Southlake knew a good thing when they saw it so they offered Barnes a full-time position as Fire Marshal. He jumped at the chance to work in Southlake and retired from the DFW Airport in 2000 after twenty-six and half years.
Barnes spoke very highly of the City and the fire department and especially the citizens and business owners that he has had the pleasure of serving. He elaborates a little on why he has been so successful at it for all these years. “Fire safety is extremely important to me but sometimes you have to take a little extra time to explain to a homeowner or a business owner why specific fire safety codes have to be adhered to.” Barnes gave a great example of how he tries to have a ‘win-win’ in every situation. It’s not always possible but that’s his goal. Barnes said, “I had a homeowner who didn’t understand why they needed to have a sprinkler system in their house. I said that it was required for any structure over 6,000 square feet. The homeowner said he could understand if it was for a business but not a house.” Barnes explained that it’s the same amount of space and besides the sprinklers do not go off all at once; only where a fire or smoke is detected. But more importantly he added, Firefighters and equipment could get to your home within minutes but they would use several thousand gallons of water from a fire hose instead of one room getting a few hundred gallons of water from an in-home sprinkler system. The man thought for a moment and said, ‘Well, that makes a lot of sense to me’ so once again, Barnes walked away with a ‘win-win.’ Barnes said that he has had to become quite the salesman over the years. “You have to sell ‘fire codes’ to people. You can’t just say, ‘you need this’ and not explain why it’s important.”
And that’s just another reason why David Barnes is so well thought of around Southlake. It’s not just the place that he lives and works but it’s home to him. It’s the life-long connections and friendships that he’s made through the years. “I’ve always tried to treat people with kindness and the way that I would like to be treated and it’s worked for me all these years,” he said.
I asked him what he would miss most about not coming to work after retiring. He pauses for a moment and said, “The people. I will miss the people I work for every day and the citizens.” Notice that Barnes said, “The people I work ‘for’… not with.” He truly has a servant’s heart.
Fire Chief Michael Starr says, “David Barnes is a good friend and a great guy to have on your team. As his friend I can say that he has probably forgotten more than most of us will ever know. He has done a fantastic job of training his successor and though he will be missed; we will continue to ensure that the citizens receive the same level of service that they have come to expect from the Fire Marshal’s office.”
David Barnes has received a Lifetime Membership Gold card for his years of service from the International Association of Arson Investigators. He’s also received the Volunteer Firefighter of the Year Award from both Grapevine and Southlake. He has served as President for ATAC, Tarrant County Arson Investigators Association and the Metroplex Fire Safety Educators. He has also received the Professional Services Award and Director’s Award from the City of Southlake and the ATAC Special Service Award. He served several terms on the Board of Directors for the Texas Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators. He served as President of Grapevine AMBUCS and Received Distinguished Alumni/Hall of Fame award from Grapevine High School.
During the last half of his career Barnes even found time to pass on his vast experience and knowledge in fire service. He taught for 27 years at the Texas A & M Extension Service College in College Station. He received a 27-year Instructor Award for Excellence.
Barnes said he and his lovely wife Cindy will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in July. They plan to spend more time with their children and grandchildren… and are excited about another grandchild that’s on the way!
David officially retires in June but he promises he will stop by often for coffee and make the rounds to chat with long time friends and coworkers. We plan to hold you to that friend. You will be missed.
Happy retirement — you’ve earned it!
A few little known facts about David:
The City of Southlake was notified Wednesday (9/3/2014) that three mosquito samples have tested positive for the West Nile Virus. The samples were taken from traps at 2201 Shady Oaks Drive, 870 Shady Lane, and on Southridge Parkway near Peytonville Avenue.
“We are seeing an increase of positive samples in Southlake and throughout parts of Tarrant County; all residents need to take this personally and fight the bite” warns Fire Chief Mike Starr. “The moment you step outside you are at risk and need to be taking the proper precautions by using insect repellent containing DEET—especially during dusk and dawn.”
Starr reminds everyone to look for sources of water in both the expected and unexpected places on a weekly basis and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by draining standing water, covering outdoor containers, and treating undrainable areas with larvacide.
The City intends to ground spray within a half-mile radius of the affected areas (see maps below) tomorrow night (9/4), Friday night (9/5), and Saturday night (9/6) in accordance with the City’s West Nile Virus Action Plan—weather permitting.
For more information on what Southlake is doing in the area of mosquito surveillance and control, please see CityofSouthlake.com/WestNileVirus.
Meet Ben Williamson our new Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Southlake and the Departments of Public Safety. Ben is a native of Texas, growing up in Mesquite and currently residing in McKinney but that’s all about to change. Ben says, “My wife Sheila and I are excited to make Southlake and the surrounding area our home. I did a lot of research and I am really impressed by what the City of Southlake has to offer.” Ben has five years of emergency management experience on the local level. Prior to coming to Southlake he served as the Senior Emergency Management Specialist for the City of Garland. Fire Chief Mike Starr says, “We feel fortunate to have someone of Ben’s caliber on our team. We had over 300 applicants and Ben really stood out. We were very impressed with his experience in emergency management as well as being very knowledgeable with data and how to best interpret it to meet our goals and initiatives.”
Ben says he is a perpetual student and loves to learn. He received his Bachelor of Science in Emergency Administration and Planning from the University of North Texas and is currently finishing the Master of Public Administration program at the University of Texas at Arlington. He also carries multiple certifications including Certified Emergency Manager, Certified Texas Emergency Manager, and Project Management Professional. Ben is dedicated to public service adding that, “I find joy in serving my community as both a professional and a volunteer.” As Southlake’s Emergency Management Coordinator, he will work to reduce the City’s vulnerability to disasters through mitigation and preparedness activities including planning, training and training exercises. “Through these actions, I will ensure Southlake is a resilient community that is prepared to respond to and recover from any disaster in a manner that is as effective as possible,” said Ben.
Ben takes advantage of his spare time spending it with his family. His wife Sheila and two children, a six-year-old boy named Hayden and a six-month-old daughter named Josephine (Josie). He also likes spending time outdoors whenever he can and volunteers when time permits. His most recent volunteer activity included tutoring elementary students during his lunch breaks each week.
Ben has officially been with the City of Southlake for about two weeks and has hit the ground running. He says, “I can already tell this is an amazing opportunity and I look forward to being here for the long term. Every day I meet new City employees and they are helpful and supportive as I get acclimated to the City and learning the Southlake way. The residents have been amazing to work with and I have already had the opportunity to meet many of the volunteers that donate their time, talents, and resources to Southlake.”
Welcome aboard Ben!
Three months after the horrific school shooting in Newtown Connecticut, a task force focused on school security and student well-being has recommended placing School Resource Police Officers (SROs) at every Southlake public school. The goal is to have the officers in place by the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
On March 19th, task force member and Southlake Police Chief Steve Mylett made the recommendation to the City Council explaining the plan’s history and importance.
“The goals of the SRO program include enhancing security on all Southlake public school campuses, reducing community fear regarding child safety, and reducing the likelihood of drug and alcohol use,” said Chief Mylett.
He also explained that under the current program, a full time School Resource Officer is stationed at Carroll Senior High School, with another one assigned at Carroll High School. A third officer splits time between the City’s two middle schools: Dawson and Carroll. The Task Force recommendation expands the program from three employees to 13 employees to cover an additional eight schools including Florence Elementary which is part of Keller Independent School District.
At the March 19th meeting, Mayor John Terrell told the audience that he sees the expanded program as a long-term investment. He stated later: “As with any long-term commitment, this program will evolve and we will modify it as we believe is necessary so that it will continually improve. What’s important is that this investment is constantly nurtured by its stakeholders so it becomes and remains a program of excellence which benefits Southlake’s families and the community.”
All of the money for the expanded program will come from the Crime Control Prevention District, the half-cent sales tax that was approved by voters to support the City’s safety and security initiatives. The board, which has fiduciary responsibility over the fund, approved the task force’s recommendation at their meeting on March 5th. The City will move forward this summer with making the necessary budget adjustments.
The Task Force was assembled shortly after the shootings in Newtown Connecticut where 26 people lost their lives after a shooter entered the Sandy Hook Elementary school and opened fire. The group researched and held meetings to determine the appropriate recommendation for an enhanced SRO presence for Southlake schools. It is composed of law enforcement experts, community leaders from both the City and Carroll ISD, and faith based leaders.
“We appreciate the cooperative partnership between the City of Southlake and Carroll ISD, especially on the topic of school safety,” said Read Ballew, School Board President and a member of the Mayor’s Task Force. “The group was quick but thorough in making a recommendation. Safety is a top priority for all of us, but the city’s expansion of the SRO program allows Carroll ISD to concentrate on our main focus of educating students.’
Superintendent David Faltys said the existing SRO program provides students, staff and parents with the opportunity to build strong relationships with local law enforcement officers. “The city’s efforts to help keep our schools safer also provide us with a great opportunity to utilize the expertise of these officers to positively impact the lives of students. We look forward to working with Chief Steve Mylett to find just the right individuals to fill these positions.”
City staff will now move forward with the necessary steps to seek out and hire qualified officers to staff the enhanced program. All SRO officers are required to go through 40 hours of specialized training that will focus on the specific safety and security needs of public schools and the children who attend them.
Mark your calendars now for National Night Out at Town Square on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Bring the kids and the whole family! We will have lots of great giveaways for kids and adults including important public safety information.
Plus, kids will have a blast getting to see the fire trucks and police vehicles including a police patrol motorcycle. Southlake Firefighters and Police Officers love to let the kids climb in and take a look an inside! Kids also get a kick out of sitting on a real police motorcycle. Judging by the fun they had last year, this year looks to be even better!
National Night Out is a great opportunity for children to meet and talk to the men and women who help protect them and their families, but it is also a lot of fun! Just check out the pictures from last year’s National Night Out.
The event will be in front of the Town Square Pavilion on Fountain Place or just follow the balloons! We hope you will join us and if you have any questions please contact: Kim Leach at 817-748-8239 or Renni Burt at 817-748-8349.
The next Southlake Department of Public Safety Citizen’s Academy begins on Thursday, September 6, 2012. The program is designed to provide members of the community with a unique experience and a working knowledge of Southlake DPS Police and Fire Services. The Academy opens communications between the community and the department, promoting an exchange of information and ideas. Academy graduates often forge lifelong relationships with DPS members in the process.
Citizens attending the academy learn about fire and police operations in Southlake through classroom discussions and hands-on activities such as weapons demonstrations at the firing range, participation in a controlled burn, and the use of police and fire equipment. Each class member is also required to complete ride-a-long sessions with police officers and firefighters.
The Citizen’s Academy classes are held on Thursday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at our West DPS facility at 2100 West Southlake Boulevard. A few Saturday classes are held for some of the activities such as courses at the gun range. The academy graduation will be Thursday, December 6, 2012. Please contact Renni Burt at 817-748-8349 if you are interested in attending or visit the following link http://www.cityofsouthlake.com/index.aspx?NID=820 to print a copy and mail the completed application.