Police operations was the focus of this month’s Waxahachie 101 class which convened Thursday.

Waxahachie Police Chief Chuck Edge visited and talked with students about the role the department and its officers play in the community.

“The department strength of sworn personnel is 54. When I say sworn personnel that is police officers that have to take an oath of office; uniformed police officers, detectives, myself and the assistant chiefs. We have 11 dispatchers, one administrative assistant, a criminal investigations division secretary, records clerk, property room technician and an IT administrator,” Edge said.

“Of the sworn personal the patrol division is how we are broken up for the majority of the people. They are the ones that you see that are in uniform. They are out there working 24/7/365. The way the work the shifts is they work 12-hour shifts,” he said.

The department has two assistant chiefs where one is over operations, patrol and CID. The other chief handles administrative functions such as training, personnel, internal affairs, building maintenance, fleet maintenance and paying the bills.

In the criminal investigation division there are six detectives and one vacancy. The detectives work 10-hour shifts and one is always on call if an incident might happen during off-hours. 

The department has an annual budget of $6.4 million, which is paid out of the city’s general fund and is overseen by the city manager and council. Edge said the citations officers write are not revenue generated by the police department but are actually generated by the municipal court, which is located in City Hall. The other funds the department receives are derived from state and federal seizures.

The police department operates under the guidelines of civil service, which sets the rules for hiring, promotions and discipline of personnel, including firing. This system of rules and regulations was voted in by the residents and can be voted out at any time. It is overseen and managed by a commission of three people who live in the city limits and are appointed by the city like any another public board or commission.

“If we need officers and say that we are going to have a test for police officers the civil service commission has to approved the date and need for the test. Then when the candidates take the test the highest score goes down as number one. The next highest score goes down as number two,” he said.

“Say we have four openings. The civic service commission sends over the names of the top five people. I have to do background investigations and I have to check them out. I have to give them the final word whether we offer them the job. But I can’t go to the bottom (of the list) because that is my buddy or my wife’s cousin. I have got to go to the top,” he said.

Candidates have to be taken in order but people can be excluded for items such as a felony conviction that comes up in a background check. The system for promoting them works the same way. The person with the highest score gets promoted, unless there is a reason such as an officer coming back to work after a three-month suspension. In that case Edge would have to write a letter to the officer and the commission stating his reasons. The commission would then make the final decision if the officer would be promoted or not.

One of the ways the department is being proactive in the community is through its different programs overseen by community services officer Wess Winn, Edge said, noting that these include setting up National Night Out, which educates the public on crime prevention by bringing in different vendors who provide information.The police department’s explorer program introduces the field of law enforcement as a positive career choice.

For more information on the Waxahachie Police Department, visit its website at www.waxahachiepd.org.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.