There’s a new police chief in town, and he brings with him a rigid military structure he hopes will bring “positive changes” to the department.
Brandon Davis, who has lived in Rhome for 14 years, was named interim police chief June 24 after Police Chief James Rose resigned.
Within a few days, Davis met with his troops – eight full-time officers and four reserves – to outline the goals and changes he plans to bring about.
“This is pretty much how we plan things in the military,” said Davis, who is in the middle of transitioning out of the U.S. Army after 20 years of service. “When we plan our training for a year out, we have to set ourselves goals like this. We set our near-term goals, which is 30 days or less; short-term, 60 days; long-term, 90 days; and then the way-ahead goals, a year or more out.”
Shortly after that first meeting, Davis and his officers knocked out the near-term goals – which included polishing the appearance of police headquarters, the force and the equipment they use.
“If you would’ve pulled into the parking lot about a month ago, you would’ve seen the building look like it’s about to fall down, cars that would’ve been willy-nilly parked every which way you want,” Davis said. “But when you pull in now, you see not only the facilities looking better, a new fence that secures our facility lot and the cars are backed in at the ready. At any time, we can jump in a car and take off, if we need to.”
Another huge improvement Davis hopes to make is the implementation of COPsync, an information-sharing law enforcement network that is expected to drastically reduce the number of man-hours used in data input.
The software “efficiently gathers information at the point of incident and immediately shares data with officers on the network” and can also serve as an offices safety alert system, GPS-based vehicle locator and automated ticketing features.
It is expected to cost $45,000 to $55,000.
Council will vote on the matter at a special session to be held 10 a.m. Saturday, July 19, at City Hall.
“This council is really wanting to make this a premiere police department, and we’re going to get there,” Davis said. “They all saw the need for that COPsync packages, that’s going to be the start. We’re all going to get on the same sheet of music as far as police operations go.
“When you look at the overall benefit and the time saved in man-hours alone, probably in three months that’s going to pay for itself,” he continued. “The council sees that. They’re smart. They know what’s right and wrong. I think what they’re happy to see is someone with energy, motivated to come in here and make things right.
“They understand that my motivation is that everything is going to be TCOLE compliant (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement).”
That motivation is behind many of the short-term goals, which include transparent budget reviews, updating personnel files, compliant and streamlined uniforms and developing a training plan for all officers.
In the long-term, Davis is looking at squad replacement and implementing an interfacing records management system and impound lot.
In the “way-ahead,” he will consider building expansion or relocation and specialized units.
“If an administrator of any type of department is not thinking towards the future, then they have no business being there,” Davis said. “I’m not the chief that thinks six months out. I’m the guy that thinks 10 years out and to set up that infrastructure to meet those goals 10 years from now. And that’s what my focus is. That’s what the city council’s focus is. And a lot of citizens aren’t understanding of that.
” … Those (goals) are right out of my head,” he continued. “I didn’t plagiarize anybody. It’s what I saw the need was for this department and put it down on paper.”
But whether Davis and his team are working to accomplish a task next week or in the next decade, a few concepts drive all that they do including community-oriented policing, community engagemenent, transparency and capitalizing on the strengths of his officers.
“I want my guys out there stopping their cars, getting out and talking to citizens,” he said. “One of the things we’ve heard is that you don’t see the police until you’re getting pulled over and they’re writing you a ticket.
“That is changing.”
Upon graduating from Slidell High School, Davis attended Paris Junior College for a year.
“Parents couldn’t afford to send me to school, and I didn’t want to get student loans, so I signed up for the Army. ‘Let Uncle Sam pay for it,’ I thought,” Davis said.
He remained on active duty for seven years before deciding to return to school at the University of North Texas, which is where he began his law enforcement career.
“I worked as a police officer full-time (12-hour shifts); I was in the reserves; and I was going to school full-time (12 to 15 hours) at North Texas,” Davis said. “That’s where I got my law enforcement experience to start off with. It was top-of-the-line law enforcement techniques and training.”
After graduating from UNT in 2006, he was commissioned as an officer in the reserves two years later.
“I commissioned as an MP (military police) because I had police experience, plus military,” Davis said. “When you go in as an officer in the military policy, they don’t train you for going out and doing law enforcement. It is all admin stuff.”
He brings those strengths to his new role. Although it is a temporary position, he is confident that he can improve the department.
“They’re getting a good taste of a combination of civilian law enforcement, plus military structure of equipment accountability, fleet management – a lot of the things that this department had not had for a long time, if ever,” he said. ” … Essentially, I’m pretty much volunteering to do this right now. But I have no doubt in my mind that whenever that time comes, (the city council is) going to offer me a job.
“They’re seeing the change, and our town needed this. Our town needed some structure in the police department.
” … All the skeptics are going to see in the future the difference it’s made … The public needs to know – Wise County needs to know – that Rhome is not going to be anybody’s stepping stone anymore. We’re going to do things right. We’re going to show everyone that we’re professional.”