Thursday, June 17, 2021

Senior Planning Director and Assistant Police Chief Honored for their Work

Assistant Police Chief Ashleigh Casey and Senior Planning and Building Services Director Ken Baker were recently honored by their City of Southlake colleagues as Deputy Director of the Year and Outstanding Strategic Performer of the year, respectively.

“Ashleigh and Ken reached for and achieved excellence in their departments,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “2020 certainly didn’t turn out the way we had planned, but even with all of the challenges, I am so proud of how they worked with the community, the City Council, and city employees to keep the City moving forward during one of the most demanding years in memory.”

Chief Casey has been with the department since 2000 and was named Assistant Police Chief in 2015.  She has a Master’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Texas in Arlington and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Baker has been with the City since 1999. He was named Senior Director of Planning and Building Services in 2013. He has a Master’s degree in Geography with an emphasis in City Planning from Western Kentucky University.

Southlake Police Department Works Together to Protect Team During COVID-19

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 of Southlake Wins PRSA Silver Anvil Award

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.

City of Southlake Ceases Operations of Red Light Cameras

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.

Great Texas Warrant Roundup: March 9 – 16, 2019

Do you have outstanding tickets and/or warrants? Today is your last reminder to come forward and take care of them. The Texas Warrant Roundup begins tomorrow.

The Warrant Round-up begins on Saturday, March 9 and ends on Saturday, March 16, 2019. The Southlake Police Department will be participating and will be serving warrants in cities across North Texas.

If you think you have a warrant in your name, find out for sure. Don’t risk being arrested once the Texas Roundup starts.

You can visit the Southlake Muncipal Court Online Services site to search for any Southlake citation information.

All Superheroes Need a Great Sidekick: Roland DeGraauw Effectively Supports DPS Heroes With Accreditation Work

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.

Read more about the Fire Department’s accreditation here. An overview of the Police Department’s accreditation can be found here.

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.

City Budget Supports Highest Standards of Safety and Security

In Southlake, safety and security are two of the City’s highest strategic priorities and new investments are proposed within the FY 2019 budget to advance a number of safety goals.

People who live, work or play in any community want to be able to go about their days without threat, injury or property loss. The degree to which they are safe and secure in their homes, or when they are out and about living their lives is often the result of efforts made by the local municipality.

“Becoming a victim of a crime or experiencing a significant health crisis can change lives forever,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “It’s our aim to minimize the risk, and if something does happen, to make sure we are exceedingly helpful in setting things back to normal.”

To ensure a high level of public safety, the City is focused on a number of key initiatives for the coming year, including improving school safety, ensuring that police and fire personnel have the equipment they need to perform excellently, and even funds to minimize the risk of mosquito-borne illness.

“Campus safety is a top priority of the Southlake Police Department. Our strong partnerships with Southlake families and Carroll ISD has helped create new opportunities to enhance school safety while keeping school faculty and our students focused on learning in a safe, protected environment,” said Police Chief James Brandon.

The Crime Control and Prevention District Board of Directors has allocated more than $500,000 from the District’s half-cent sales tax revenue to fund school safety initiatives. A task force is currently studying best practices and will identify ideas to assist Chief Brandon and the Police Department with their work. These initiatives will complement the work already underway by Southlake’s 12 School Resource Officers (SROs).

The PD will also make technology purchases to aid in investigative processes and protective gear for officers.

The Fire Department has also reviewed their programs and equipment so they are ready to respond as needed.

“Readiness is about ongoing training and having the equipment and materials we need to get the job done,” said Fire Chief Michael Starr. “This fiscal year we’ll be focused on emergency management planning and tabletop exercises, managing mosquito threats, and general training.” In addition, the Department will be purchasing a replacement fire truck.

Funds are also included in the budget for workplace safety and occupational training, designed to eliminate costly accidents and lost time, and safety at City facilities and parks.

“We have an important obligation to be vigilant and well-prepared. The resources provided through the budget are well-considered investments into the safety of our beautiful community,” said Yelverton.

City Works to Enhance School Safety

The City of Southlake working with Carroll ISD and law enforcement professionals is looking at new ways to strengthen enhance school safety in all Carroll ISD schools.

“Our most precious resource deserves our best efforts which is why I have discussed with the Southlake Crime Control and Prevention District, funding of more than $500,000 in the coming year to support the exploration and implementation of new, innovative safety and security initiatives at Southlake schools,” said Mayor Laura Hill.

(Click the play button for Mayor Laura Hill’s message about School Safety)

History of SRO Program

In early 2013, after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the School Resource Officer program was expanded at the recommendation of a City of Southlake-CISD-Parent task force. By the start of the 2013-2014 school year, specially-trained officers were in place at each CISD elementary school and intermediate school in addition to the officers at the middle schools and high schools.

Much of the $1,000,000 funding for these officers is from the Crime Control and Prevention District portion of the City’s sales tax. In 2015, voters re-authorized the district for 20 years helping to ensure the future of SRO program and other safety initiatives.

2017-2018 School Year

“The success of our SRO program can really be seen in the day to day interactions with CISD students,” said Police Chief James Brandon.  “New investment will only further their mission keep our kids safe and focused on learning.”

In the 2017-2018 school year, the Southlake SROs have participated in more than 4,000 school patrol hours, 850 student meetings, 550 coach or mentoring hours, 450 parent meetings, 90 SRO led student classes, and 40 community presentations.

“All of these efforts have resulted in zero student citations,” said Chief Brandon. “I look forward to working with CISD, and our law enforcement community so that we can continue to see these types of outcomes in Southlake schools and students can learn and have fun without worrying too much about their safety.”

For more information on the City’s SRO program, please visit www.CityofSouthlake.com/SROs.

Suspect in Southlake Home Invasion Arrested

One of the suspects in the May 2, 2017, home invasion of a Southlake residence has been arrested.

Timothy Scott Scoggins

Timothy Scott Scoggins

He is 37-year-old, Timothy Scott Scoggins.  He was identified through a DNA match from evidence left at the scene. Police are currently working to identify the other suspect wanted in connection with the home invasion. Police are re-issuing a sketch of him in the hope that someone may recognize him.

The home invasion occurred shortly before 1:00 p.m. on May 2. The resident stated she was at home when a male approached her front door and advised he was looking for his dog.  When the victim opened the door, the male forced his way inside the residence and contacted the second suspect via walkie-talkie. The suspects, who were both armed with firearms, restrained the victim inside her home and demanded money and other valuables.  When the homeowner’s adult son returned home, the suspects fled the scene in a black newer model GMC SUV.

Southlake police are searching for the second suspect who is described as a white male in his early 30’s, around 6’0” tall and heavyset. At the time of the offense, he was wearing a baseball cap with a “Cub Scout Leader” emblem in black and neon green embroidery, thin brown wireframe glasses, a long-sleeved button-down dress shirt, dark pants, and dress shoes.

Second suspect sketch

If you have any information about this case or the suspects involved, please contact Southlake Police Detective J. Ellis at jdellis@ci.southlake.tx.us or at (817) 748-8123.