After last week’s double shooting, several readers have asked for stories and tips for preventing crime. I heard you, and here’s the first story …
City is beefing up police department, using hi-tech equipment and providing tips for deterring crime
DAVID STONE | OUR TOWN TEMPLE
Recent shootings and violent crimes has prompted Our Town Temple to visit with Police Chief Shawn Reynolds about steps the city is taking to ensure the safety of its residents, and what measures residents can take to assist police in reducing crime.
“I believe what we experienced in the past week was a highly unusual activity,” Reynolds said. “The women and men of the Temple Police Department work diligently to keep the city of Temple safe.”
“However, the Police Department cannot be successful on its own. We need and have a strong desire for the community to partner with us in preventing, reducing and solving crime in the city.”
MORE COPS, NEW TOOLS
In August, City Council adopted a new business plan that will add 40 positions to the Temple Police Department over six years, construct a new police training center and purchase high-tech crime-fighting equipment
“The Temple Police Department has had Unmanned Aerial Systems for several years now,” Reynolds said. “We have received and installed several LPR (license plate reader) cameras and a LCR trailer. They have been operational since November, and this new technology has already proven valuable in arresting offenders and solving crimes.”
According to Temple City Manager Brynn Myers, the city has purchased a shots-fired detection system equipped with plate-reader technology. When the system “hears” a gunshot, it automatically activates and the license-plate readers begin sending information in real time to a police database. The camera system is mounted in high-crime areas.
When gunshots are detected, camera-equipped drones are launched automatically. Reynolds and Myers said the system can help police quickly locate vehicles used in crimes.
PROTECTING YOUR HOME & CAR
One of the services the Temple Police Department offers residents is a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design survey.
“This is a free service we offer to businesses and residents in the city of Temple to provide suggestions to make your home, vehicles or businesses safer and more secure,” Reynolds said.
“For homes, lighting should always be a consideration,” he said. “Video capabilities through a doorbell camera or other camera systems are helpful. Good deadbolts with the appropriate installation are important as well.”
Lighting and strong deadbolt locks are big deterrents when it comes to keeping burglars and home invaders from targeting a home or business.
“Be sure your bushes and landscaping are trimmed back to allow visibility from the home and the street,” Reynolds said.
The Temple chief said the biggest deterrent to auto theft or burglary is to lock vehicle doors.
“Be sure to lock your cars and don’t leave any items of value in the passenger compartment,” he said. “Don’t leave any items of value in the passenger compartment. Remove purses, briefcases, cell phones, computers, cash and guns from your vehicle and lock those doors. Don’t leave spare keys to a loved one’s vehicle inside your car.”
CITY TO BEEF UP POLICE DEPARTMENT
While the city business plan adopted this summer increases the number of police personnel incrementally through 2028, two new patrol districts also will be created.
“The business plan increases the number of patrol districts from eight to 10,” Myers said. “Police personnel will work a 10-hour shift with one patrol officer per district, but we will have some overlap during peak hours.”
“Right now, the west side of Temple basically is one very large police district,” she said. “Under the new plan, there will always be at least three officers on patrol on the west side.”
Two of the districts on Temple’s west side — Districts 8 and 9 — will stretch from an area near Texas 317 eastward toward Downtown. District 10 will be exclusively in the growing far-west area of the city, mostly west of Texas 317 going toward Lake Belton.
A couple of districts in the city’s core will be tightened to give officers a smaller district to patrol in higher crime areas.
“This plan will increase the number of officers on patrol and significantly cut response times,” Myers said. “Currently, Temple police work 12 hour shifts. They get tired. The 10-hour shifts will help police stay at their best and brightest. Police have to make split-second decisions — this requires them to be at their best all the time. Twelve hours is too long.”
The 10-hour shift approach will give patrol districts three teams every day.
“Each shift will overlap by two hours, so for several hours a day we have two patrols in every district,” Myers said. “We can also use some of this overlap time for training.”
Myers said the added police personnel will include 15 new non-supervisory officer positions that will be filled in the first three years of the plan. The plan also increases the number of police sergeants, creates an additional property-crimes detective unit, and adds training officers, crime scene technicians and violent-crimes enforcement officers.
Reynolds told Our Town Temple that community policing is a core and foundational principle of the Temple Police Department. However, he said community policing is more than events such as Burgers with the Badge, Coffee with a Cop and Kiddo Card events. These events are important, but there is more involved.
“Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder and fear of crime,” he said. “It is about building relationships, trust and communication.”
“I wish there was an easy solution to making the job easier for police to solve crimes,” Reynolds said. “One suggestion is this: If folks see something, they should say something.”