By Teresa Holloway
PALESTINE – Lieutenant Gabriel Green of the Palestine Police Department hosted a town hall meeting the evening of Nov. 17.
Green, a public relationship specialist, explained the ever-developing role of the city police department in the lives of the citizens and the growing effect new programs have on the community.
The meeting was attended by Palestine’s Chief Mike Alexander, new Assistant Police Chief John Herod and family, Council Member for District 3 Vickey Chivers, Criminal Investigations Justin Willoughby, Community and Best Practices Officer Nate Smith, Community Liaison Officer Bernadette Capron Knowles, other officials and a number of citizens with questions and concerns.
Green began the meeting with a detailed outline of the assets the department brings to the community. Many of the programs were unfamiliar to members of the audience, and several were in stages of development, according to Green.
Residents are often unaware of the number of resources we bring to the table,” Green said. To make these assets more effective and better, Green explained, the basic mission of the police department can be summed up with the acronym ‘PRIDE’.
Personal Courage, Respect, Integrity, Duty and Ethical Behavior are the backbones of the department. “Basically doing the right thing, even when the right thing is the most difficult thing to do, these are what we are based on.”
“These are why we are having a town hall meeting with you. We want to reach out to you with what we can do with honor and integrity and be able to change this city from the inside – with your help,” Green said.
During a brief rundown of the leadership structure, Green introduced the officers present for the meeting.
“We are trying to improve and reach ‘Best Practices’ standards. You can look at it to know how and what your police department is doing in all its roles,” Green said.
“Patrol is basically like what you see on television,” he said. “Traffic control, safety control, report taking, preliminary investigations, meaning the evaluation of what needs to be done with a call, it’s almost like they are our reconnaissance resource and then we have our emergency response.”
The big push at PPD now, according to Green, is a drive to prevent crime. “The best way to prevent crime is to have community contacts and ties and know what is going on in your city. Unfortunately, you can’t be everywhere at once,” he said.
“We need the people who are there, 24/7. The people who live there, who live, breathe and experience everything in their city.
“We want to reach out to you, expand on the assets we have, to grow our relationship with the community so you can trust us to get the job done when you tell us what’s going on,” he said.
The limits on what patrol can offer are almost unlimited. The PPD offers many resources. Patrol, for example, can have patrol officers perform a house watch or extra patrols when the owners will be out of the area.
Officers can help with planning and security for special functions, such as fund-raising runs, walks or other events. “Safety education is extremely popular,” Green said. “The information can help your children, neighbors and co-workers.”
Crime Prevention assistance is available from the department. The officers can come to your home or place of business and do a safety assessment for the owner or individual.
The department offers Citizens On Patrol Academy, special classes called Civilian Response to Active Shooters, Coffee with a Cop, National Night Out, Operation Blue Santa, Tip411, Truckers Against Trafficking, Town Hall meetings and Veteran’s programs.
After explaining several other aspects of PPD resources available to the community, Green opened the meeting to queries from the attendees.
Most concerns centered around the deterioration of certain housing areas of town and the accumulation of trash and garbage in several different areas of town.
Green addressed the problem with the enhanced Code Enforcement programs currently on test-run status and being further developed. Hopefully, the programs will be completely efficient in the near future.
Simply put, patrol officers would perform double duty as code enforcement officers. Short ‘door-hanger’ forms are issued before the shift begins. Officers observing violations of city ordinance would fill in necessary information, file the duplicate and hang the original on the door knob of the building in violation.
“This is just one of the programs we are working on,” Green emphasized. Already information programs where citizens can help police their communities are up and working efficiently.
TIP411 is one such program, he explained. There are programs which allow citizens to leave anonymous information in text form, continue to text an officer if they so choose, or call and leave anonymous information. Several sites on the PPD page have access to an anonymous email information drop for citizens to use.
Green encouraged volunteerism in the city and stressed “Taking Back our City” through the cooperative efforts of concerned citizens and police resources.
Anyone interested in the programs available can check the PPD website at cityofpalestinetx.org, go by the station at 504 N. Queen Street or call 903-731-8400.
By Teresa Holloway