There are two aspects of the law enforcement profession that are constant: the call to act in an individual’s time of need and having to rely on others in your own time of need. Both aspects of a law enforcement career carry their own situational rules, all of which are aimed and geared towards providing a level of service to meet any identified need, regardless of the severity or quantity of people effected.
Many times officers are called upon by members of the community in times of duress, which can range from being stranded alongside the roadway in need of a tire change to other more serious instances involving a family crisis or in extreme cases, the need for protection against a family member or strangers. Without initially having all the specific facts for these types of emergencies, officers are expected to arrive prepared in their response while still acting within the confines of the law. However, what about the times when officers themselves need help, who can they call on for support?
In situations such as these, officers may turn towards their own and the assistance comes from within the agency or sometimes by other outreach groups within the community. Realizing that none of us have ever lived through the COVID-19 pandemic before, it has become a fast and accelerating learning curve for all. However, during this time, three individuals within the Southlake Police Department have worked behind the scenes and without recognition to keep all members of the agency, as well as other work groups within the City, protected when called upon to protect and meet the needs of the community.
Officer David Aldridge, Community Initiatives Coordinator Valerie Snyder and Administrative Secretary Diana Green have relentlessly searched for, coordinated and gathered needed supplies to keep officers of the Southlake Police Department in business since the beginning of the pandemic.
From the start of the COVID pandemic, Aldridge stepped up and assisted the Police Department in gathering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other sanitation equipment. As the pandemic continued, Aldridge helped in creating a PPE and sanitation inventory to keep track of all PPE equipment for the department. During that time, he also became the main contact for Purchasing Manager Tim Slifka on receiving all PPE orders from the City and distributing them accordingly.
Aldridge worked closely with Snyder and Green to make sure items were ordered and distributed accordingly.
“Aldridge went out of his way on numerous occasions to be available for anyone who needed the PPE equipment and sort out all the shipments to make sure it got to the right department,” Patrol Captain Jose Luna said. “On top of it all, Aldridge is in charge of the patrol units for the department. During this pandemic, he also took a shipment of three new patrol vehicles and has worked hard to get them ready to hit the road. Officer Aldridge has always been a team player and makes himself available for anyone who needs assistance.”
Through coordinated efforts, Snyder and Green have reached out to numerous companies, supply chains, independent contractors and even generous citizens, in order to obtain basic needed supplies such as: hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, face shields, Tyvek suits and other sanitary products. Through their assistance, they have obtained enough supplies to build Aldridge’s inventory to allow officers to still function within the confines of the law and to respond to emergencies when called upon in time of need.
“I have directly witnessed Valerie’s assistance and the impact she has on the agency. Her ability to think outside of the box coupled with her intuitive nature, allowed her to navigate unknown systems where numerous individuals or corporations were applying and competing for the same resources,” Professional Standards Division Captain Jason Henninger said. “In many instances, it came down to the relationships she had previously built that allowed our agency to receive what was needed, which is immeasurable. Due to her ability to build these types of professional working relationships the agency recognizes her as a true and exceptional asset.”
The work of these three individuals has not been overlooked or forgotten, and will forever stand as examples of Innovation, Commitment to Excellence and Teamwork!
City Council adopted the 2020 Tarrant County Hazard Mitigation Action Plan during the January 21 City Council meeting.
The plan allows access to federal mitigation grants to minimize the risk of damage that would be caused by a man-made or natural disaster.
Although the HazMAP is designed for all of Tarrant County, it accounts for and addresses the unique needs of Southlake. The plan identifies and quantifies the risks Southlake faces and serves as a tool to identify goals, strategies and projects to mitigate these risks to ensure Southlake remains a resilient community.
The City determines the risk by looking at historical data and trends.
“The City utilized data in a risk assessment to determine what areas would be impacted in case of a natural disaster. This data helped us design a plan to be prepared for these issues if or when they occur,” Amanda Meneses, City of Southlake Emergency Manager said.
To build a multi-jurisdictional, county-level HazMAP, the plan was coordinated through a partnership with Tarrant County, the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and 33 participating jurisdictions.
The plan is a continuation for the previous HazMAP which was set to expire this year. The plan must be updated every five years and adopted by resolution.
“Our priority is to keep our community safe,” Meneses said. “If the HazMAP is not adopted, it would exclude Southlake from applying for federal mitigation grants.”
The plan meets the requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations, State of Texas Division of Emergency standards and the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, which allows access to federal mitigation grants that would otherwise be inaccessible without an approval from HazMAP.
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.
Based on the recommendation of a third-party structural engineering consultant, the N. White Chapel bridge, at the creek crossing north of Wingate Lane, will remain closed until further notice.
The bridge was severely damaged as a result of heavy rainfalls on Friday, September 21. The heavy rain and floodwaters buckled the asphalt on the bridge deck and damaged parts of the bridge’s foundation.
The City is waiting for the consultant to provide repair options. Once options are presented, the City will determine the best course of action and will be able to provide a better timeline for the duration of the closure.
“Unfortunately this is not a quick process,” noted Public Works Director Rob Cohen. “Safety is our top priority, and right now the bridge is just not safe to open. I understand this is inconvenient, but we want to make sure the proper repairs are made and do what we can to avoid this happening again. In the meantime, I appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work to provide the best solution.”
Motorists can now enjoy a much smoother ride on Continental Blvd. thanks to the partnership between the City of Southlake and Tarrant County Precinct No. 3.
The nearly three-mile project spanned from Davis Blvd. east to 600 feet past the Byron Nelson Parkway intersection.
“With this being such a busy area of the City, we’re glad to have this project completed on time,” said Public Works Director Rob Cohen. “These types of improvements are important for improving mobility in Southlake. Helping people get around as efficiently and safely as possible is always going to be one of our top priorities.”
Southlake Public Works Streets Division, along with Tarrant County, completed the three phase project that included milling, asphalt resurfacing and striping and pavement marking. The new pavement markings will help increase visibility and safety for motorists and pedestrians.
In March 2018, City Council approved moving forward with the $450,000 investment. The annual joint project with Tarrant County serves as a cost savings to the city.
A project to complete the remaining portion of Continental Blvd. from Byron Nelson Parkway to S. Kimball Ave. will be included as part of the FY 2019 Budget.
Learn more about roadway projects in Southlake here.
Starting January 3, 2017, the 20 mph speed limit will be extended in the Carroll Elementary, Rockenbaugh Elementary and Old Union Elementary school zones to accommodate for Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) dismissal times. The change comes as a result of a parent request made in late August.
“Pre-K children are released from school 55 minutes earlier than the K-4 grades at all three schools, said Public Works Director Rob Cohen. “ The decision was made after City of Southlake staff looked into two factors. First, staff observation of how many children and adults were walking during Pre-K dismissal and second, what the changes mean for drivers and the safety in the area,” he added.
Drivers can expect to see temporary signs announcing the change and permanent changes to the school zone signs surrounding each school. The new school zone dismissal times will be from 1:50 pm to 3:25 pm.
“We often hear from parents who are concerned about speed in these areas,” said Southlake Police James Brandon. “A simple sign change, extended the school zone times, and increased driver awareness will help make these school zones even safer.”
For more information about speed limits in the City of Southlake please visit CityofSouthlake.com/SpeedLimits.
National Night Out in Town Square is only a few weeks away. Be sure to mark your calendar for Saturday, October 1 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It’s always a fun night for the whole family and educational too. Residents will learn how to be more safety conscious and aware of their surroundings whether at home or out shopping and dining in the City.
The Southlake Police Department offers safety tips and programs year-round. The Hide, Lock, Take program is a great one to remember every time you park your vehicle. Just remember these simple guidelines – Hide, Lock, Take. Hide your valuables in the trunk of your vehicle. Never leave items in plain sight inside your car; always Lock your vehicle to deter thieves; and remember to Take your keys with you.
Police Chief James Brandon says, “The Southlake Police Department appreciates the partnership we have developed with our citizens. Through social media messaging and visible reminders of posted Hide, Lock, Take, signs in shopping centers, we have seen a marked decrease in thefts from vehicles thanks to your efforts.”
The Southlake Police Department also provides many other important safety reminders to help keep our residents safe.
Vacation House Watch: If you are planning to go on vacation, contact the police department and make arrangements to have your home added to the special police patrol while you’re away. Information on our Vacation House Watch program can be found on the City of Southlake website www.cityofsouthlake.com.
Protect your mail: While you’re away, have your mail held at the post office or have mail and packages picked up immediately. Never leave packages visible on your porch and never leave mail in your mailbox for a lengthy period of time. Thieves are known to follow delivery trucks and postal carriers and then grab items that are left out in public view.
Report suspicious vehicles: If you notice a vehicle making multiple passes through your neighborhood and something seems “off”, contact the police department by either dialing 9-1-1 for emergencies or the non-emergency number at (817) 743-4522 to report it. Southlake Police will respond immediately and attempt to make contact with the driver to determine if they have a legitimate reason to be in the area.
Don’t answer your door to strangers: It may seem cliché, but it happens everyday. Someone knocks on your door and your instinct is to answer it. BUT DON’T. If it is someone you don’t know – don’t open the door. If the person doesn’t leave and you feel frightened, call 9-1-1, or if the person is being a nuisance, contact the police department at the non-emergency phone number (817) 743-4522.
We would also recommend that you write down the non-emergency phone number and place it on your refrigerator door or a place that is easily accessible to you and your family. Make sure your children are aware of these tips, and the phone number to call, in the event of a situation that is not a 9-1-1 emergency.
Last but not least, use the police department’s Exchange Zone when meeting someone to sell or purchase an item from websites like Craigslist.
Exchange Zone: This is an area at the police department that is monitored by video surveillance 24/7. It can be used for the exchange of items bought or sold through various websites. The Exchange Zone can also be used for child custody exchanges. The Exchange Zone is located on the southeast corner of DPS Headquarters in the last two parking spaces on the far row on Division Street. **Again, it is monitored by video surveillance 24/7.
Did you know that you have a District Sergeant assigned to your neighborhood? If you would like to get to know your District Sergeant, he or she can be found here. Your District Sergeant will be happy to speak to your Home Owners Association (HOA) group to deliver additional safety tips and answer any safety questions you might have.
The Southlake Police Department is here to provide you with quality service 24/7. Please don’t hesitate to contact our department for any reason. We are always happy to assist you.
A new traffic signal is coming to the North White Chapel and Ascot Drive intersection.
Beginning today, August 2, 2016, contractors will be at the North White Chapel and Ascot Drive intersection preparing for the installation of a new traffic signal. Crews are onsite and will be working to get the signal installed and operational prior to the start of the school year.
Once installed, the signal will assist in ensuring the safety of students crossing the street at this location and help manage traffic along North White Chapel Boulevard.
Updates on the progress of the signal installation will be provided weekly and posted to mysouthlakenews.com and the City’s social media sites.
For questions, please contact Steve Anderson, P.E., CFM at 817-748-8101.
The Southlake Police Department is again urging adults and teens to keep their hands on the wheel and not drive distracted.
This safety reminder is even more important with the release of the popular app, Pokémon Go, which has resulted in serious accidents and injuries across the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), accidents involving distracted drivers are on the rise.
For the first time in over 50 years, traffic deaths have increased eight percent despite decades of vehicle design improvements and traffic safety advancements. Our youngest and most inexperienced drivers are most at risk, with 16% of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under the age of 20. Young drivers also make up 27% of distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes across the country.
Parents did you know?
Reckless and distracted driving is the #1 Killer of teens. One quarter of teens say they have responded to text messages at least one or more times while driving. Police Chief James Brandon says, “If it has been awhile since you’ve talked to your teens about distracted driving, now would be a good time to sit down with them again and remind them of the dangers of distracted driving, including playing the popular new game, Pokémon Go, while driving.”
Teens are not the only ones guilty of driving distracted. Adults admit to the behavior as well. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), distracted driving causes more than 100,000 traffic accidents each year in Texas alone.
While using a cell phone when driving is the most common offense, there are many ways in which a driver can be distracted. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving including:
Help us reduce accidents and fatalities. Drive now – talk later. The message is simple and it can save lives.