Standoff ends after 5 hours


A five-hour standoff between a Decatur man and police ended peacefully just after noon Friday morning.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said officers were called to a home in the 400 block of South Holman Street around 7 a.m. The officers were contacted by the girlfriend of the homeowner, Mark Calvert, 52. She said she’d broken up with Calvert that morning, and he’d threatened to kill himself.

Officers first spoke to Calvert through the door and became concerned when he refused to open the door and speak with them.

“From our standpoint, he had weapons in there and wanted to hurt himself, so we secured the area,” Hoskins said.

Neighbors were evacuated and the street was blocked off. The Wise County Sheriff’s Office brought in their SWAT team and negotiators around 9 a.m. Hoskins said the negotiators talked with Calvert via cell phone and were able to persuade him to leave the house around 12:15 p.m.

“He’s being taken to Wise Health for a psych evaluation,” Hoskins said. “That psych evaluation will determine whether there will be criminal charges.”

Hoskins said the police will interview Calvert’s girlfriend to determine whether he threatened her in the course of their breakup. If he did, Hoskins said Calvert may be charged with deadly conduct or family violence.

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Late-night visitors question officers; Men call themselves first-amendment auditors


Bridgeport and Decatur police chiefs reported two men visited their departments early Wednesday morning taking photos and questioning officers.

Police Chief Rex Hoskins said they arrived at Decatur PD between 1:30 and 2 a.m.

“They arrived in the parking lot, filming cars and the outside of the building, and they wouldn’t answer any questions,” Hoskins said. “They were hostile and trying to agitate (the officers), asking about laws and ethics.”

The chief said his officers “stayed with the two men the whole time they were here” and tried to “stay as cordial as possible.”

Hoskins said his officer learned the two were conducting a “cop audit.”

The Messenger contacted Josh Russell, one of the men who visited the PD, Wednesday and he called the visit a First Amendment audit.

“All we’re doing is making sure public figures hold themselves accountable and allow us to express our first amendment right to record,” he said. “From public property, we can film anything we can see.”

Russell, who lives in the Metroplex, said he and his partner are not associated with an organized group but instead conduct these audits on their own and post the videos to YouTube to report the interactions. Russell posts his videos under the name Nomad News and said on his page you will see both good and bad videos.

He characterized the Decatur PD video as a good interaction.

“It’s the bad ones we do this for,” he said.

Russell said he’s not anti-police and in fact, once wanted to be an officer.

“It’s anti-bad cop,” he said, explaining his effort.

Russell said he interacted with Sgt. Robert Cain Wednesday morning in Decatur, and although Cain started out using an aggressive tone, according to Russell, “he turned out to be a decent man.”

“I would like to reiterate the professionalism of Sgt. Cain,” he said. “He ended up being a genuinely good guy.”

Russell called Hoskins Wednesday afternoon to share his positive experience.

After they left Decatur PD, Russell and his partner visited Bridgeport Police Department about 3 a.m.

Police Chief Steve Stanford said they showed up in the department lobby asking the dispatcher if they could take pictures of the building and police cars. He noted one was wearing a toboggan and one was wearing a “hood pulled way down.” Stanford said they wanted the officers’ names and badge numbers but refused to identify themselves.

“I’m proud of what my guys did, and they didn’t fall for their antagonizing behavior,” he said. “Officers tried to ID them in the back of the parking lot because they were walking around police cars in a semi-secure area.”

Russell said the Bridgeport officers weren’t particularly friendly.

He also argued that time of day shouldn’t be related to what an officer deems as normal behavior.

“It would be different if we were vandals or breaking things,” Russell said. “As Americans we have to protect this … these are our rights, and they’re being slowly taken away.”

Stanford said his officers handled the situation well, but he’s concerned these types of audits will make officers hesitant to act when they need to. He thinks officers wearing body cameras have impacted these interactions, but they’re still worrisome to him.

“You want to have a safe environment, and what’s going to happen is they’re going to push this issue where officers are afraid to act because of potential liability and it will cause someone to get hurt,” he said. “Often these turn into an argument on the side of the road, and it’s not professional most of the time.

“Fortunately, my folks did well.”

To view Russell’s video from his visit to Bridgeport PD, go to wcmess.com/bportaudit. To watch the Decatur video, go to wcmess.com/decaturaudit.

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Crime down, but calls are up


Decatur saw a drop in crime numbers last year, but that doesn’t mean officers or dispatchers are less busy.

Actually, they’re busier.

That’s according to numbers provided by Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins during his annual report to the city council Monday.

Crime was 23 percent lower in 2017 than the previous year, Hoskins said. The biggest drop was in the number of thefts, which were down 35 percent.

According to his report, the total number of thefts, not counting motor vehicle thefts, decreased from 261 in 2016 to 170 in 2017.

“Most of the thefts still occur at Walmart,” the chief said. “Out of the 170, I’d say about 120 happen at Walmart.”

Motor vehicle thefts were down 27 percent, from 15 in 2016 to 11 last year.

“I don’t know what is the cause of the crime going down, but I will take it,” Hoskins said.

The total value of stolen property last year was $273,975. Of that total, $116,109 were stolen vehicles. Another $71,488 was in stolen currency, which Hoskins said was mostly from embezzlement cases.

Among other notable numbers, assaults increased from 56 to 70, the most since 2012. Burglaries increased from 13 to 14. The city saw no murders or robberies in 2017. There were two sexual assaults.

The overall number of arrests decreased from 903 in 2016 to 835 last year. However, the number of drug arrests increased to 140 last year from 119 the year before and 59 in 2015.

Hoskins also noted that the department answered 75,000 calls on its main line and another 6,600 calls for 911 last year, for an average of nearly 7,000 calls per month.

Calls for service increased by more than 1,000 from 2016 with 42,486 last year.

“That’s the most we’ve had since we started keeping track of it,” Hoskins said.

Looking back to 2012, calls for service have increased 53 percent.

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City honors police chief


Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins was honored for 35 years service at the city’s annual employee appreciation banquet Friday at the Decatur Conference Center.

“He can be stubborn, but he always has the best interest of the city at heart,” said City Manager Brett Shannon, who along with Martin Woodruff presented the award.

Police Sgt. Gerald Wright was presented a 25-year award. Lt. Delvin Campbell was honored for 15 years with the city. Detective Daniel Sandate and Crstina Schwab also received 15-year awards. Other police officers honored with five- and 10-year honors included: John Riley, Sara Leach and Erika McComis.

Decatur Fire Chief Mike Richardson, along with Captains Cliff Oates and Nate Mara, received 10-year awards. Deputy Chief/Fire Marshall Deroy Bennett was honored for 15 years service.

Linda Meador with the Decatur Public Library was honored for 25 years with the city, while Denice Herrera, also with the library, received a 10-year award.

Bobby Brown with the public works department was honored for 20 years service. Other public works and water department employees receiving five- or 10-year awards included: Kenny Butler, Pedro Hernandez, Elidio Garcia and Tony Estes.

Decatur Conference Center director Lori Sherwood received a five-year award, along with Ford McElroy of the Planning Department and city council members Cary Bohn and Susan Cocanougher.

Park department superintendent Ray Petty received a 10-year award, as did Heath Taylor of the parks department. Other 10-year award recipients included Gayle Hubbard of the city hall staff.

Human resources director Mary Ann Henline received a 15-year award, as did Delfina Inquanzo of the city hall staff.

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6 arrested in prostitution sting


Six people were arrested last week in a multi-agency prostitution sting in Wise County.

County Attorney James Stainton said the sting was the result of months of planning that started from local officers hearing rumors about prostitution in the county.

“It’s just good police work,” Stainton said. “It started with guys on the streets. They pay attention and report it to their superiors.”

The operation included the Bridgeport and Decatur police departments, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Local authorities also enlisted the help of vice officers from the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.

Phone numbers were advertised, and the people seeking the services of the prostitutes, who were actually undercover officers, called to set up the meetings.

The calls came in between 2 and 10 p.m. last Wednesday, Dec. 6.

“When we kicked this off in the afternoon, both the Bridgeport phone and the Decatur phone started blowing up. It was a little disconcerting,” Stainton said.

While many who called did not commit to show up, others did.

Two teams made up of intermixed officers from all agencies were at locations in both Bridgeport and Decatur to meet the johns and make the arrests.

Stainton said six people were arrested on prostitution charges – three local residents, two from Fort Worth and one from Denton County.

While prostitution many not be as big an issue in rural areas like Wise County, our proximity to the Metroplex and a growing population could change that in the future.

“As Tarrant County moves this way, it puts this at our back door,” Stainton said of the prostitution problem. “I’ve talked to the local police chiefs and to the sheriff. We don’t want it in our towns or county. This is a bad element our county doesn’t need.”

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Police recover stolen vehicle


Investigators were able to track down a stolen vehicle within hours of it being taken Tuesday, thanks to the vehicle’s tracking system.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said someone broke into Sandford Oil on U.S. Business 81/287 in Decatur in the early morning hours Tuesday and stole an employee’s personal pickup truck.

Using the truck’s global positioning system (GPS), investigators were able to track the vehicle to the Chico area.

“We recovered the truck in a barn where they were stripping it for parts,” Hoskins said.

The building’s owner had given officers permission to search the building, and they found Michael Hothouse, 35, of Bridgeport asleep inside.

Hothouse was arrested around 9 a.m. for burglary of a building and theft of property $2,500-$30,000. He was released from the Wise County Jail Wednesday after posting $35,000 bond.

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PD recognizes local businesses


Thanks for Support

THANKS FOR SUPPORT – Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins presents a plaque to Eric Vincent of Vincent Wealth Management for his significant support of the PD’s Santa Cops program. In addition to Vincent, 10 other businesses were also recognized in a ceremony Thursday. Photo courtesy of Decatur Police Department

The Decatur Police Department Thursday honored a dozen businesses for their support of the department through the past year.

Police Chief Rex Hoskins and Lt. Delvon Campbell presented the awards at a ceremony at police headquarters.

“You all have been strong supporters of the police department for many years,” Hoskins told the group. The chief mentioned a number of police programs, including the summer event for children, Santa Cops, officers night out and many financial gifts to the department, including $35,000 from Crime Stoppers for a K-9 and Tasers for officers.

Campbell said the Santa Cops program served more than 250 people last Christmas and singled out Eric Vincent of Vincent Wealth Management for his significant support of the program.

Businesses honored this year, in addition to Vincent, included Walmart, Wise Health System, Lowe’s Home Improvements, Dairy Queen, Lowe’s Grocery, Karl Klement Ford and Dodge and Klement Distribution, James Wood Motors, Jump Party Texas, Wise Family Practice Urgent Care, and the Wise County Messenger.

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Chase ends in arrest


A police chase involving multiple local departments ended in the arrest of a Dallas man Saturday night.

Rhome Police Chief Sam Love said Officer Brody Brown tried to pull over Lawrence Boone, 51, for speeding on U.S. 287 near the Texas 114 crossover. Boone evaded Brown and continued on U.S. 287 northbound.

“He took off and started throwing dope out of the window,” Love said.

Rhome and Decatur police departments, Wise County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety joined in the pursuit. As Boone approached Decatur, DPS deployed spike strips near Farm Road 2264, taking out his vehicle’s right tires. The vehicle came to a stop near Karl Klement Ford. Boone took off on foot but was apprehended by officers.

Officers later located drug evidence at various locations along the side of the road.

Boone was taken to the Wise County Jail, and he was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance greater than 4 grams, tamper/fabricate physical evidence with intent to impair, evading arrest/detention, evading arrest/detention with vehicle and resist arrest, search or transport. He also violated a parole order from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Austin.

His bail was set at $80,000.

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Highway renamed for fallen officer

Highway renamed for fallen officer


A Family Honor

A FAMILY HONOR – Deroy Bennett was on hand Wednesday as a sign dedicated to his late father was installed on U.S. 380. James “Poncho” Bennett, a Decatur Police officer, was killed while on duty 37 years ago. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Under a cloudy, yet not quite overcast sky, Wednesday morning, a brown sign dangled from the end of a crane between two metal poles on the side of U.S. 380 at Decatur’s east city limits.

Texas Department of Transportation employees preparing the sign to be attached to the poles were probably not used to their work attracting such a crowd, which included several officers.

To those officers, the sign has special significance for the name that it bears: James “Poncho” Bennett, the only Decatur Police officer to be killed in the line of duty.

That sign, and another that would be placed at the west city limits on U.S. 380, officially renamed the stretch of road as the James “Poncho” Bennett Memorial Highway.

Bennett’s son, Deroy Bennett, was 9 when his father was killed while making a traffic stop on April 3, 1980. He was also on hand Wednesday to watch the signs go up.

Remembering an Officers Sacrifice

REMEMBERING AN OFFICER’S SACRIFICE – Lt. Gerald Wright (left) and Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins (center) worked for more than a year to have signs installed along U.S. 380 in honor of late officer James Bennett. Bennett’s son, Deroy (right), is the city fire marshal and a former Decatur Police officer. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“Way too many emotions really,” Bennett said. “It’s something I thought I’d never see, but I’m glad I am.”

Turning away from the sign and looking back east, Bennett pointed to a spot about a quarter-mile down the road.

“Right there. See that entrance to the oil well to the left? Right at that hill,” he said.

The spot is one that Bennett and Decatur Police officers know well. It’s the spot where 37 years ago, 45-year-old James Bennett stopped a vehicle matching the description of a car involved in the theft of a firearm in Bridgeport earlier that morning.

According to witnesses, 17-year-old Hijinio Veloz Jr. got out of his car with the stolen rifle and pointed it at Bennett. A passing motorist told a Messenger reporter she and her family saw Veloz shoot the officer.

He died at the scene.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said the department originally wanted to place a marker at the site where Bennett was killed, but he said the marker would have to be set back from the road, and you would have to stop to read it.

The signs provided a better option, in his opinion.

“This way, people would see it more,” Hoskins said of the signs. “You’d have to stop to read the memorial, like a historical marker. This way, everybody who drives through here is going to know it.”

Hoskins said Lt. Gerald Wright headed up the effort to work with TxDOT to have the signs placed along U.S. 380. The Decatur City Council also gave the department its blessing to pursue the project last summer.

The entire process took about 12 to 15 months, the chief said.

Sizing up the sign, Hoskins noted its color is similar to the color of the Decatur Police uniforms at the time Bennett was killed.

He nodded his approval.

“It’s something to honor his name. He gave his life for this community. The family has suffered all this time. It’s just another way of honoring his memory,” he said.

The Decatur Police Department is also working with the Bridgeport Police Department to possibly have a section of Texas 114 in their city renamed for Bridgeport officer Randy White, who was killed April 2, 2009, while assisting with a police chase of a suspect in a stolen vehicle.

As the sign was being prepared to slide onto the last two bolts to secure it in place, the sun broke through the clouds, bathing the sign in brilliant sunshine.

A sign that will ensure that an officer’s sacrifice will not go unnoticed.

“I hope it’s the last one that has to be put up around here,” Hoskins said.

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Vacation at the station; Kids learn bike safety, more at police event

Vacation at the station; Kids learn bike safety, more at police event


Ready to Roll

READY TO ROLL – Six-year-old William Golaz II of Decatur rides his bike around traffic cones as part of the bicycle rodeo activity at the Decatur Police Department’s Summer Vacation program Friday at the police station. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

One moment, a line of children’s bicycles sat motionless in a row outside of the Decatur Police Department Friday.

A moment later, excited kids were hopping onto them, positioning helmets on their heads.

“This needs to be a little bit tighter,” Lt. Delvon Campbell said to one child while tugging on the straps. “You see how that feels?”

He inspected the other helmets – “Good, good, good,” he said.

The children had just finished watching a video on bicycle safety inside the police station, and now they pedaled out the middle of the parking lot, preparing to participate in a bike rodeo.

Safety Tips

SAFETY TIPS – Lt. Delvon Campbell goes over safety tips before taking the group on a bike ride around the neighborhood. Learning about bicycle safety was just one of several activities involved with the Decatur Police Department’s Summer Vacation program. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Their objective would be to navigate around a series of traffic cones in the parking lot to simulate how to ride around obstacles the kids might face in a bike ride around their home.

But just as the kids prepared for their challenge, the gray skies above their heads opened up, sending kids running back through a heavy rain to the protection of an awning.

But the rain couldn’t stop the fun during the Decatur Police Department’s Summer Vacation program for children ages 5 to 8.

In fact, just a few minutes later, Campbell pointed out a rainbow off in the distance to show them the rain was coming to an end, but many of the children seemed perfectly happy splashing in the puddles that had suddenly sprung up.

Back on their bikes, the kids showed off their safe riding skills.

The bike rodeo was just one of several activities for kids during the summer vacation program. The kids had already taken a tour of the police station, and later they would tour the fire station next door, participate in an anti-bullying program, play water games, paint rocks and learn about crime scene techniques such as fingerprinting.

“We’re trying to get the kids back into knowing about the police, trying to train them on what we do, and then bicycle safety,” Police Chief Rex Hoskins said.

The department held the program over two days, one in July and one in August, for the first time this year. About 30 kids attended this year’s program, and Hoskins said plans are already being made for next year, which they hope will include activities for older kids.

“Our goal is to be more community-oriented toward the kids,” Hoskins said.

Having completed the obstacle course, the kids were ready to hit the actual streets of Decatur for a ride around the block.

Following a police motorcycle with red and blue lights flashing, the kids pedaled away from the station under a clearing sky for a quick ride before returning for more fun activities.

Fun for All Ages 1

FUN FOR ALL AGES – Hartford Booth of Decatur was one of eight kids participating in the Summer Vacation event Friday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Fun for All Ages 2

But it wasn’t just kids who were having fun. Officer Daniel Sandate showed off his biking skills as well. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Officer injured in wreck

Officer injured in wreck


Rolled Over

ROLLED OVER – Decatur Police Officer Matthew Roberts’ Chevrolet Tahoe was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer Thursday night, causing the vehicle to go airborne and land on its top. Roberts was flown by air ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth and released Friday morning. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

A Decatur police officer was air lifted to the hospital after his parked patrol vehicle was struck by a tractor-trailer on U.S. 81/287 Thursday night.

Department of Public Safety Trooper Carson Bening said Officer Matthew Roberts was parked on the shoulder of the southbound lanes of U.S. 81/287 in Decatur, just past W. Ford St., when a tractor-trailer traveling south moved onto the shoulder for unknown reasons and rear-ended Roberts’ vehicle. The tractor-trailer was driven by Christopher Toussaint, 39, of Dallas. The wreck occurred around 11:30 p.m.

Roberts’ Chevrolet Tahoe came to rest upside down off the highway. The tractor-trailer drove off the highway less than a quarter-mile further southbound, coming to rest next to the parking lot of Americas Best Value Inn.

Roberts was flown by Air Evac Lifeteam 68 to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He was released early Friday morning, according to Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins.

Toussaint was taken to Wise Health System in Decatur with no visible injuries. He was later taken to the Wise County Jail and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Also responding to the scene were Wise County Emergency Medical Services, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, and Decatur police and fire departments.

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Toy drives help brighten kids’ Christmas


‘Tis the season to help out children in need, and Wise County has plenty of opportunities to do just that.

Several toy drives have started around the county, and donations are now being accepted.

Several of those toy drives involve Spirit of Christmas campaigns.

ANGELS AWAIT – Wise County Salvation Army has an angel tree at Fit-N-Wise in Decatur to help both local children and senior citizens. Angels are due back Dec. 10. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

DECATUR SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

The Decatur Spirit of Christmas uses a voucher system so parents can shop for their own children with the assistance of a committee volunteer at the Decatur Wal-Mart.

This year the campaign is helping 172 children in 56 families, an increase over 2015.

Donations and sponsorships may still be made at DATCU and First State Bank in Decatur. All donations go directly to families in need.

BRIDGEPORT SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

Like Decatur, Bridgeport’s Spirit of Christmas uses a voucher system. In addition to gifts for kids, each family is given food donated by Brookshire’s.

This year the campaign is helping 92 kids in 35 families, according to campaign spokesperson Mendee Williamson, which is down slightly from last year.

Donations will be accepted through Christmas at the three banks in Bridgeport.

ALVORD SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

Alvord’s Spirit of Christmas includes an angel tree at Legend Bank in Alvord.

People can pick up an angel and purchase requested gifts. The deadline to return gifts is Dec. 16.

SOUTH WISE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

Angels are also available for the South Wise Spirit of Christmas. The angels are located on trees at Wells Fargo and Woodhaven banks in Rhome.

They should be returned by Dec. 9.

Monetary donations may also be made at the Rhome Wells Fargo.

Other local agencies also use an angel tree format.

WISE HOPE

Wise Hope’s annual Christmas of Hope helps children whose lives have been affected by domestic violence. Angels are located at the Outreach Office, 608 N. Business U.S. 81/287 in Decatur and are available to be picked up during regular office hours 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. They should be returned by Dec. 13.

Monetary donations will also be accepted.

SALVATION ARMY

Wise County Salvation Army has an angel tree at Fit-N-Wise in Decatur to help both local children and senior citizens. All donations are used to benefit people here in Wise County.

Angels are due back Dec. 10.

Local law enforcement agencies also hold toy drives for local families in need.

SANTA’S DEPUTIES

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office Santa’s Deputies toy drive benefits kids across Wise County.

Toy or monetary donations are being accepted through Dec. 19. Drop-off boxes are located at the sheriff’s office; city halls in Aurora, Alvord, Chico and Paradise; justice of the peace offices for Precincts 1, 3 and 4; The Cajun Kid Caf in Paradise; Wiley Hardware and Julio’s in Chico; and Russell Feed and McMaster New Holland in Decatur.

Organizers say the greatest area of need is for children ages 11 to 17.

DECATUR SANTA COPS

The Decatur Police Department Santa Cops program is accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys at the police department through Dec. 15. Drop-off locations include the police department, Vincent Investments, Sweetwater Bakery, Dollar General, Plaza Cinema 4, Aaron’s and Decatur High School.

Organizers say they are helping 110 kids this year.

BRIDGEPORT SANTA COPS

The Bridgeport Police Department Santa Cops program is for children ages 0 to 17 who live in the Bridgeport school district.

Donations of new, unwrapped toys or money will be accepted through Dec. 10 at the police department or Bridgeport City Hall.

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2-wheel transition; Decatur PD adds motorcycle to traffic division

2-wheel transition; Decatur PD adds motorcycle to traffic division


Family Connection

FAMILY CONNECTION – Corey Bosworth (right) is following in the footsteps of his father, Brian Bosworth, a former officer who helped begin a motorcycle traffic unit at his department in Rockwall in the late ’90s. The elder Bosworth is a local minister and reserve officer for Decatur. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For Decatur Police Officer Corey Bosworth, two wheels are better than four.

Drivers around town, particularly on U.S. 380, may have noticed the newest addition to the force: a motorcycle. Bosworth, who has been a Decatur officer for two-and-a-half years, has been serving as a motorcycle officer as part of the traffic division in the department since mid-June.

Bosworth said he much prefers the motorcycle to the standard police car.

“You can go places the car can’t,” he said before listing some of the advantages of a motorcycle: “Being able to sit more places. Being able to make tighter turns, to turn around in traffic.”

Another advantage of the motorcycle comes in the form of public relations. He said people seem to be much more comfortable coming up and talking to an officer on a motorcycle than they would if the officer was in a car or SUV.

“You almost are inviting people to come up to you because you don’t have a cage around you,” he said. “I’ve been on traffic stops and had people stop and talk to me, saying, ‘Hey, I didn’t know we had one. That’s cool,’ which has been cool for me, because I like interacting with the public.”

Of course, there are a few disadvantages that go along with using a motorcycle for patrol, such as not having access to the computer equipment found in the vehicles, exposure to the elements and being at a disadvantage when it comes to personal safety.

Still, Bosworth much prefers patrolling on the motorcycle.

Checking Speed

CHECKING SPEED – Decatur motorcycle officer Corey Bosworth runs radar on U.S. 380. He said the job of the traffic division is law enforcement and facilitating the safe flow of traffic through the city. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Earlier this summer, he spent two weeks of all-day training at the Northwestern Center for Public Safety Motorcycle Training in Grand Rapids, Mich. He learned skills such as how to do slow-speed maneuvers, high-speed braking and evasive maneuvers. When he returned to Texas, he spent another two weeks of training with the Roanoke Police Department.

In addition to his local patrol duties, Bosworth is sometimes called upon by other agencies to assist with escorts. For instance, the Roanoke Police Department requested he ride with them as part of the motorcade for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Officer Brent Thompson, one of five Dallas police officers killed by a man who shot at officers at the end of a protest march in July. The motorcade traveled from Dallas to Thompson’s hometown of Corsicana where Thompson was laid to rest.

While Bosworth might be the first full-time motorcycle officer for Decatur, he’s not the first person in his family to help start a motorcycle traffic unit at a police department.

His father, Brian, senior pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Decatur, did the same thing nearly 20 years ago when he was a police officer for the Rockwall Police Department.

Brian Bosworth said in his department, the traffic unit served as both enforcement and accident investigators due to the fact they could get through backed-up traffic to wreck scenes more easily than if they were in a patrol car.

He also mentioned the public relations aspect of the job being a critical component.

“Kids loved them,” he said. “They’d walk up to you and talk, whereas sitting in your car with the windows rolled up with the air conditioning on in the heat of the summer, nobody comes to talk to you because they don’t think you want to be bothered. But on a motorcycle, it’s just like having an ‘open’ sign on you.”

He said his department realized that motorcycles themselves were very cost-effective in terms of gas mileage, insurance and maintenance, even though it costs a bit more to outfit the officer who is operating the motorcycle. For instance, a motorcycle officer needs the higher boots to protect them from the heat of the engine, a helmet and specialized uniforms to help deal with different weather conditions.

Those weather conditions can sometimes prevent a motorcycle officer from patrolling. Corey Bosworth said he can’t ride if the heat index is over 100 degrees, and he can’t ride if the temperature is below freezing. Rainy days are also a no-go.

“In water, you might have control of the motorcycle, but the people around you slipping and sliding don’t always have control, so that’s always a hairy time to try to ride,” Brian Bosworth said.

You can bet if the weather permits, Corey Bosworth will be patrolling on his vehicle of choice. Don’t be afraid to stop and say, ‘Hi.’

Hitting the Road

HITTING THE ROAD – In addition to working traffic, motorcycle officers are often seen as a public relations tool for the department, since people seem to be more willing to approach an officer on a motorcycle than one in a vehicle. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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Car dealerships burglarized


Decatur Police Department is looking for leads in the burglary of three car dealerships in Decatur.

Last weekend the offices at James Wood GMC/Chevrolet, James Wood Hyundai and Karl Klement Ford were broken into, according to Police Chief Rex Hoskins.

As of press time Tuesday, Hoskins said $200 was taken from the Hyundai dealership, but it was unclear what else had been stolen.

“We’re still trying to get information from victims to find out what all is missing,” he said. “We’ve processed some stuff but haven’t had any leads.”

Hoskins said if someone has information related to the crime, they should call the Decatur PD at 940-393-0300.

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Death of Dallas officers felt locally

Death of Dallas officers felt locally


Officers Down

OFFICERS DOWN – Flags outside the Wise County Sheriff’s Office were flown at half-staff Friday in honor of the five Dallas officers killed during a protest in downtown Dallas Thursday night. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

No shots were fired in Wise County Thursday night, but the local law enforcement community certainly felt the pain of the loss of five Dallas officers who were killed by a sniper.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin called what happened Thursday night in Dallas the deadliest night in Texas law enforcement history, or at least in his 32 years in law enforcement.

Akin said he was getting ready for bed when he saw the television images of police officers laying face down on the pavement with a note on the screen about a shooting.

“I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” the sheriff said.

Stay Vigilant

STAY VIGILANT – Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said Thursday’s events are a reminder to his officers to always stay alert for possible dangers posed by people who wish to do them harm. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Akin has worked closely with the Dallas Police Department during his law enforcement career, both as a Texas Ranger stationed in Garland and working corporate security in Dallas. He said he knows many people on the force, including Dallas PD Chief David Brown, who he called “an exceptionally fine man and honest and decent guy who really cares about his law enforcement officers.”

After watching television coverage of the shooting, Akin came in to work about 5 a.m. Friday and sent an email with an encouraging note to his staff and also walked around and visited with the different departments to talk about what had happened.

Akin said the events provided another reason to preach due diligence to all of the department’s officers.

“By and large, we find the people we come in contact with here in Wise County are good people,” he said. “But what concerns us is because of the constant contact with good people, the deputies can be lulled into a sense of complacency. Then there’s the one or two bad guys who come along, and we don’t want our deputies to be caught by surprise because it’s obvious from what happened [Thursday] night there are those out there who wish to do harm to law enforcement.”

Helpless Feeling

HELPLESS FEELING – Bridgeport Police Chief Steve Stanford said he felt helpless as he watched television coverage of Thursday’s shooting, wishing he could help. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Bridgeport Police Chief Steve Stanford knows that all too well. His department lost an officer in 2009 when Sgt. Randy White was killed by a suspect fleeing police.

“As we sat there, and the longer it was on TV … it struck a heartstring with us,” Stanford said. “I just watched my people respond on Facebook last night, and I know them personally and I know that there’s a sense of uneasiness.

“It was also a flashback, especially for those of us in the administration role, having to make that call to family … We lost one, and I can’t imagine five at one time, planning those funerals and coping with that loss.”

Stanford said in light of Thursday night’s events, they are looking at how they respond to calls, including telling officers to be more alert for trouble.

But he also doesn’t want his officers to be fearful.

“We don’t need to subject ourselves to self-pity, to fear; we need to be diligent and remain safe and take appropriate action,” he said. “We need to embrace our oath, and we need to continue to serve our community with excellence and know that we have a lot of people, especially in our area, that support us and pray for us and that love us and care for us.”

Community Oriented

COMMUNITY ORIENTED – Decatur police chief and former Dallas PD officer Rex Hoskins said while an officer shooting is possible in smaller towns like Decatur, it is less likely due to officers having closer relationships with the people in the community. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

For Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins, the killing of Dallas police officers hit very close to home.

“The tragedy in Dallas – it’s home to me,” Hoskins said. “It’s where I started working. My dad and my brother both retired from Dallas PD. I started there in 1976 and left in 1980. My heart goes out to those officers and their families.”

He said it’s hard to understand the world today and hopes the events of the past few days, which also included the shooting deaths of two black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, won’t lead to race riots.

“I think there are a lot of problems with certain officers who have gotten us into this situation, but not all police are bad just as not all citizens are bad,” Hoskins said.

The Wise County community has responded with support for the local law enforcement agencies. Akin said a local restaurant offered free sandwiches to all his officers Friday, and Stanford said someone paid for his lunch as a way of saying “thanks.”

“Since all of these attacks, across the board, officers have seen an increase in support from the good people,” Stanford said. “The silent majority are starting to speak up, which is comforting.”

Akin also sought to alleviate any fears that citizens may have about what could happen closer to home.

“I really feel like law enforcement as a whole in Wise County is dedicated, and the vast majority of our citizens are decent, law-abiding persons,” the sheriff said. “I feel as safe here as I have ever felt in any other environment throughout my career and the places I have worked and lived. I think people should feel there is reason to be calm and understand there really isn’t a better place to live than here in Wise County because of law enforcement and the citizens in general.”

Mourning Band

MOURNING BAND – Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin wore a mourning band over his badge Friday in honor of the five officers killed in the line of duty in Dallas. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

ONLINE COMMENTS

Five officers died Thursday night in Dallas when a sniper shot 11 officers and one civilian during a downtown protest of officer-involved shootings. Messenger readers were invited Friday on our Facebook page to share their thoughts on the tragedy and write messages for local law enforcement

JEANETTE JOHNSON WALKER: We are Americans. We are cops, we are all colors, we are all genders, we are soldiers, we are civilians, we are bikers, we are farmers, we are businessmen/women, we are Democrat, we are Republican, we are liberal, we are Christian, we are non-Christian. We are all part of one group… We are Americans. United we stand.

PAULA BROWN LARGENT: My prayers are with them and their families. I appreciate all you do!

TIFFANY DIANNE: My thoughts and prayers are with all law enforcement.

JEREMY JOINER: My condolences to the fallen officers’ families. My prayers with DPD and Dart PD.

ANA MARTINEZ: My prayers are with their families. My family appreciates all you do for our community.

SHEILA MILLER: I pray for the families and injured and pray as well all officers everywhere understand there are more who stand with, than against you. Stay frosty and watch your 6.

SHANE TACKETT: I am heartbroken while I sit glued in front of the television watching the aftermath of a terrorist attack not only so close to home, but against my family of brothers and sisters in blue. I’m sickened by the news media pushing the agenda. I’m pissed that Fox 4 showed an officer get gunned down on taped footage. I sit here and watch a grown man in full uniform leaning against his squad car, gun ready to go while crying and trying to keep his emotions in check. I just wanted to put my uniform on, run out there, and tell him I have his back. At this point I’m crying, too. I sat in my chair, playing with my phone and hoping that we got an all-call alert that it was time to go in because we got work to do. It saddens me to look at my wife and see the fear. For the part of her that said, “I don’t want you to go back” and the part of her that knows that I must go back. This is not a job to me, it’s a calling. I am a man of God; I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I will stand and fight or die trying to hold the line between order and chaos, the fight against good versus evil, and to hunt the wolves amongst the sheep. I am proud to wear the badge and I will defend it with honor. And I would say that 99 percent of officers are just like me.

RICK BOWLING: Prayers for our men and women in blue. Don’t understand what this world is coming to.

CONNIE HALE REDWINE: Prayers for the families and all police officers that they will be safe.

MELISSA DICKINSON: John 11:35: Jesus wept. I think He is weeping now at the sight of what our once proud nation has become. Thank you law enforcement officers everywhere for service.

HELEN SHARP BOWLING: This has been so gut-wrenching and senseless. These innocent souls were just doing their job. These men and women deserve our utmost thanks and prayers for their safety as they work to protect us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. As for all the haters of law enforcement, 911 is the first number they will call as soon as they have an emergency!

DODIE FICCO POHL: Way too much going through my head to share. I have several family members in different states who wear the blue. I pray for all who lost their lives and for their family and friends. Thank you for all you do. Thoughts and prayers for all of you. May God keep you safe.

SHIRLEY DONLEY: Prayers to all law enforcement in the U.S. and their family. When there is a loss, it affects everyone. Prayers to the law enforcement community at this and all tragic senseless loss of life. GOD BLESS THEM. And all they do to protect and serve.

BECKI BALLEW MILLER: Thank you, Wise County law enforcement officers and staff. I appreciate you.

CINDY FULLER: #AllLivesMatter

DIANN TACKETT-COLE: I have total respect for law enforcement agencies and first responders. Prayers for the families of all officers. I’m sitting here in my recliner at my house in Runaway Bay and I hear a siren – not sure if it’s police or ambulance, but I almost fell out of my chair. This is just not what this country is about. My heart goes out to all officers and their families. God bless our men and women that put their lives at risk every day. Thank you for the job you do daily.

TAMMY SOSA: For every law enforcement officer concerned about the current events, please remember for every person who wants to bad mouth or hurt you, there are thousands who support and love you. The media and regular civilians could not begin to comprehend what you go through on a daily basis. You are our protectors. You are what brings me and my family peace as we sleep at night. The possibility of you not going home to your family in order to protect mine is something I will never take for granted. Please don’t forget the reason you wear the uniform and don’t let anyone full of hate and evil question the good you stand for every day! God, please comfort the families of the fallen officers in Dallas and protect those who are out there still fighting the battle of evil.

DEBBIE YOUNG SMITH: We need prayer and God back in our country. Prayers for all law enforcement officers and family because all lives matter.

MIRIAM FERNANDEZ RIVAS VALLES: As I was up late watching live coverage of what happened last night, my mind was like “whoa!” I just can’t believe it happened so close to home. It was a peaceful rally up until the shooting began. I can’t imagine what was going through everyone’s mind. My heart and prayers go out to the families and friends of the fallen police officers as well as the ones that were shot and are making it. As I was watching the DPD salute the vans that carried the fallen police officers I sat and cried wondering why. Why must this happen? They have families. They didn’t deserve this. They passed away while protecting and serving the community. Much, much respect for the men and women of law enforcement. Thank you for your service and thank you for putting your lives at risk every time you put on your uniform of law and step out the door of your home. I know your job isn’t easy and a lot of people may not know it, but some of us do support you all the way. May God be with you every day you protect and serve your community, and may God comfort your loved ones every day because we are not promised tomorrow. Only God knows. And only God knows why he needs his angels to come home. I am a supporter and back the blue all the way. Have a blessed day.

MARGARET GREER: Prayers to all. Thank you for what you do every day.

MICHAEL WOOD: Father God, we’re broken. Our nation has lost its way. Lord, we ask that You look with favor on us as we turn to You for help. Raise up the real leaders among our people, and let them shine Your light where all can see. Lord, please touch hearts across our nation, so that all will know Your love, and the power of that love shared with all. Unite us against the evil that the enemy has unleashed within our country. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Fake bills, check scams reported


There’s funny money going around Wise County, but it’s no laughing matter.

Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins said his department has received several reports of counterfeit money being used around town. He said he had heard the same complaint from numerous businesses and banks in town.

The counterfeit money is often a $20 bill that has been altered to make it look like a $100 bill.

Cyd Bailey with First State Bank Chico said she has also seen this trend, but she’s seen an increase in check scams as well.

Bailey said several customers, often elderly, will come in with fictitious checks that have been sent to them. The scam requires that you deposit the check and then return a portion to the scammer, or the scammer may request personal information such as an account number or password.

“Anytime someone wants you to send money back to them, it’s a scam,” Bailey warned.

Anyone who thinks they have been given counterfeit money or are the possible victim of a scam should call local law enforcement.

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Two promoted by police


Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins has promoted two longtime officers to lieutenant, the first officers to achieve that rank in the department.

Sgt. Gerald Wright was promoted to lieutenant and will be in charge of the patrol division. Wright had been over the criminal investigation division.

Sgt. Delvon Campbell, who had been in charge of patrol, was promoted to lieutenant over support services including criminal investigation, dispatch, the city jail and other services.

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Tech provides more than fine information


If you haven’t paid your traffic tickets, Decatur Police have a new tool to find you.

The department is about a month into a year-long pilot program using automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology. Cameras mounted on police cars record each vehicle they pass and that includes a photo of each license plate.

I Read You

I READ YOU – Cameras installed on the tops of two Decatur Police vehicles record license plates in order to detect those who have outstanding warrants. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

That data is then compared to information on outstanding warrants like unpaid traffic tickets. When a vehicle connected to a warrant is found, it alerts the officer.

Two patrol vehicles are mounted with four cameras, and Police Chief Rex Hoskins said the new technology has already been helpful.

SCREEN TIME – Photos of vehicles and their license plates are shown on a screen in the vehicle. If someone with an unpaid traffic ticket is detected, a message will pop up on the screen, alerting the officer. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

“I think we’ve arrested six to eight people on warrants totally off of this system,” he said.

In addition to regular patrols, Hoskins said officers will drive through high traffic areas such as Wal-Mart and Lowe’s parking lots scanning license plates. A couple of those recent arrests came in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

“You’ll drive through Wal-Mart and get a hit on somebody,” Hoskins said. “You wait until they come out, and then you’ve got them.”

Finding people with warrants does not necessarily mean an arrest, however, Hoskins said. The technology also includes a way for officers to take a credit card payment right there in the patrol car and even provide a receipt.

In addition to city of Decatur warrants, the system also includes city of Denton warrants, and Hoskins said the department is in the process of loading statewide warrants into the system.

The ALPR system has other uses as well. For instance, if a local bank was robbed, and a partial license plate was given, that information can be entered into the system. If a direction of travel was given, officer can set up on the highway and be alerted when the vehicle passes by.

The technology can also be used to help determine if suspects were in the area where a crime was committed.

“Eventually I think we’ll be able to solve crimes off it,” Hoskins said. “Especially in our residential areas, especially at night with car burglars. If you go through there and somebody has parked their car and walked and did a bunch of burglaries, we can go back and see what cars were on that street to try to reconstruct what cars belong there and which don’t.”

Since the system connects to other agencies who use the same technology, it is also possible to see where a certain vehicle has been recorded in the past.

The ALPR system used by Decatur was created by Vigilant Solutions.

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Decatur Police Department expands use of body cameras for officers


All Decatur policemen on the streets will be equipped with body cameras as of Sept. 1.

Police Chief Rex Hoskins said two of his officers have worn body cameras for about a year-and-a-half, and when the price of the technology dropped earlier this year, he decided to purchase enough to outfit every officer who interacts with the public regularly.

Visual Evidence

VISUAL EVIDENCE – Officer Keith Hilton shows the video of an incident from earlier in the day regarding a woman who was “attacking” vehicles on Farm Road 51. The suspect ran, and Hilton had to chase her down and handcuff her before leading her back to the patrol vehicle, all of which was captured on video. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

While the purchase was made long before the shooting of an unarmed teenager by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., Hoskins said he could see what a difference a camera could have made in that situation.

“If this was activated and the officer did what he was supposed to do, by policy, there would be no ifs, ands or buts about what happened. We’d have it on video,” Hoskins said.

Decatur PD has tested five or six video cameras over the past several years, Hoskins said. He chose Taser’s Axon Flex cameras, which can be attached to an officer’s glasses, when he made his initial purchase last year. The two officers who wear the camera work traffic and overnight hours.

Camera Ready

CAMERA READY – Decatur Police Chief Rex Hoskins (left) shows how the Axon Body camera is attached to an officer’s shirt while officer Keith Hilton wears the Axon Flex camera on the side of the glasses. Hilton has worn the camera for about a year-and-a-half. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Hoskins said the department used to get complaints about traffic officer Keith Hilton, who was eager to wear the camera so an accurate picture could be shown.

“We always got complaints about him being rude, that he’d throw their driver’s license at them, stuff like that,” Hoskins said. “Now when people call up, we look at it and say, ‘No, it didn’t happen. He handed you your license. Would you like to come up here and look at the video?’ They drop it.”

He said the main reason he decided to purchase the cameras was not for officer discipline, but for the collection of evidence. The body cameras allow for the collection of both more and better quality evidence than the traditional dash-mounted cameras in police vehicles, which the department also uses.

For traffic stops, Hilton said the video captures exactly what he sees, including facial reactions and items inside the car that the dash-mounted camera couldn’t pick up. For a driving while intoxicated stop where a horizontal gaze nystagmus test is given, the camera can see directly into the eyes of the driver. The camera will also pick up more subtle movements like swaying back and forth.

Hilton said reviewing video could also be a way to help improve the officer’s skills.

“If an officer gets into a fight and ends up getting hurt, you can go back and review the tactics that were used,” he said.

Another useful feature is the 30-second pre-record buffer. While the officers manually begin and end the recording, the camera is constantly recording and keeping 30 seconds of video so that when the officer presses record, it automatically saves the preceding 30 seconds of video only, not audio. That can be helpful in capturing the initial infractions such as the speed on the radar gun or a car running a red light.

After seeing the success of the cameras, Hoskins ordered two more of the Axon Flex cameras along with 14 Axon Body cameras, which attach to the officer’s shirt.

The cameras are designed with battery life to function for a full 12-hour shift. Taser uses cloud technology to store the video at Evidence.com, and the video cannot be altered by officers. Officers must also go through several security steps before viewing a video. That video can then be sent to prosecutors working on the case.

County Attorney James Stainton said he has been impressed with the video submitted as evidence in cases he’s prosecuted. In addition to the added evidence on DWI cases, he said the cameras work well in domestic violence cases as well.

“In family violence situations, the victim is so stressed out, they don’t want to go outside and talk in front of a car,” Stainton said, referring to the dash-mounted camera. “With this, they can sit and have a conversation and the injuries can be seen close up.”

Decatur pays a monthly $10 storage fee per camera, and Hoskins said the technology is worth the extra cost.

“The more we can do for our officers to protect them from false claims and provide more evidence for the courts, the better off we are,” he said.

Over the next few days, officers will be trained on the policy for camera usage. Hoskins said any time an officer interacts with the public on a police matter, he wants the camera on.

In the future, Hoskins said he’d like to be able to outfit all his school resource officers with cameras as well.

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