Paul Walden, Addison City Council, Post (Facebook)
September 2, 2017
I have a standing lunch appointment with our City Manager Wes Pierson each month. We have been doing this regularly since my election to Council in May of 2016. This has provided me with an opportunity to establish and develop a more personal relationship with our Town’s CEO beyond just the business relationship we have. I have also gotten to meet his wife and children; they are a wonderful family. During these meetings we discuss (mostly) Town business, things such as where we are on projects, what is on the horizon for upcoming Council meetings and that sort of thing, mixed in with some of what is going on in both of our family’s lives outside of Town related activities.
I had one such meeting, recently, in which one of the items we discussed was a recent Council meeting. Wes advised me that in the discussion of the Addison Citizens Assisting Police program (ACAP), Police Chief Paul Spencer misspoke as to the role of ACAP with regards to close patrols. To correct the record, I wanted to let everyone know what is to be done on residential close patrols by our Police Officers.
APD will continue to operate close patrols in the following manner:
- Officers will check all close patrols at least once per shift
- Day Officers will check back yards (if accessible), move newspapers and boxes out of sight, visually check windows and doors, and ring the doorbell to see if the resident has returned early
- Night Officers will visually check the house from their vehicles using vehicle lighting unless further investigation is necessary based on the officers observation.
The close patrol service will continue to be provided by APD Officers in the same manner as before. ACAP will supplement observation of close patrol properties from the vehicle per Council’s recent action.
There has been misinformation and wild, inflammatory speculations floated on some social media platforms regarding recent safety oriented changes in duties for ACAP volunteers, so I wanted to share my thoughts on this.
I see great value in ACAP volunteers slowly patrolling residential and commercial areas in their marked vehicle. This creates a “second set of eyes” with radio communication capabilities to our Police Department. We must be very careful not to expose these volunteers to the dangers inherent to police work since they are not trained nor equipped to be in a position to deal with perpetrators.
My experience as a former Police Officer tells me that the vast majority of property crimes committed are in support of a drug habit. Further, it is likely that the perpetrator is under the influence of drugs at the time of committing the offense. So, the question was floated as to why the Council prohibited ACAP volunteers from entering onto private residential property? The answer is there is danger inherent in potentially surprising a drugged up burglar while checking a door, picking up newspapers or leaving notes as to crime prevention suggestions.
Our ACAP volunteers wear a polo type shirt with a baseball hat with markings identifying them as ACAP volunteers and roughly resemble law enforcement type of insignia. My fear is that the (likely) drugged up felon who is in the process of burglarizing the house would shoot first as an instant reaction. Our ACAP volunteers would be absolutely helpless to defend themselves or even call for help. We simply cannot put civilian volunteers in that position.
Rather our direction to the Police Chief was to have ACAP continue their patrols but not to leave their vehicles and radio for a Police Officer should they observe anything out of the ordinary. Understand that our Police Officers are primarily responsible for close patrol duties and have always been. Let’s just understand the proper role for volunteers who are interested in serving our community by being those “second set of eyes”.
I appreciate the ACAP volunteers and their willingness to serve and the steps the Council took recently are prudent and reasonable in ensuring their safety and reinforcing their proper role within the Police Department.