The Argyle Police Department recently became the fourth agency in Denton County to receive “recognized” status from the Texas Police Chiefs Association Best Practices Recognition Program.
Officials said the designation comes after an agency has demonstrated its compliance with all 165 best-business practices for law enforcement recommended by the association. Police Chief William Tackett said this ensures that each agency is following the most efficient protocols.
A framed certificate will be presented to the department at 6 p.m. Nov. 19, during a City Council meeting at Town Hall, 308 Denton St.
“It’s not just a certification you pay for and print off — it’s a series of evaluations, including two days on site, that sets standards within a department you must adhere to,” Tackett said during a recent interview.
He said it took his seven-member department 18 months to accomplish the task, but in the end, it was “well worth the extra hours of hard work.”
Tackett said he initially set his sights on completing the program when it launched in 2006, but the department had to withdraw when it became apparent how time-consuming the program was.
“I highly recommend that anybody that goes through this program use the sample manual — it gives you a head start so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Tackett said. “The first time around, that’s exactly what we tried to do [create the manual from scratch] and being a small department like we are, you are limited in time and resources as it is.”
Tackett said Capt. Temple Cottle was in charge of overseeing the process to make sure everything was completed in an efficient and timely manner.
“He was our project manager and made sure we were on track to complete the program, which you have to do within two years after signing up,” Tackett said. “Once you start, you quickly learn the program is definitively not for the faint of heart and you need someone to oversee the process.”
Tackett said the program covered any and all aspects of the department and the way it operates.
“We went through use of force, search and seizure, pursuits ... all the typical procedures one would think of while on the job — as well as how to handle things internally such as a fall or sexual harassment,” Tackett said.
Obtaining the hard-earned status isn’t just a one-time process, but something the department will now have to maintain. Annual reports will have to be sent to the association and the department will be required to repeat the entire compliance process every four years to maintain the recognized status.
Officials said they purchased self-aid buddy kits for all officers and created an outdoor secure storage area at the department in order to pass some of the requirements during the on-site review Oct. 1 and 2 by Monty Stanley, a retired assistant police chief in Carrollton, and Muleshoe Police Department Chief Roy Rice.
“It’s great to be reviewed by your peers,” Tackett said. “Because it’s one thing to have policy that you are ‘gonna do’ and have policy you are held accountable to follow through with.”
“All officers will have additional training requirements to help maintain our status from now on,” Tackett said. “I can’t say exactly how much, but I would estimate at least two weeks in addition to what’s already required from TECLOSE [Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education].”
The process is completely voluntary, and there are other programs similar to the association’s, he said. It costs $350 annually for a department with fewer than 10 officers, in addition to $750 to $1,000 for the onsite visits, which will occur every four years.
In the long run, the benefits will far outweigh monies spent, Tackett said.
“It’s all just about reducing the risk and costs of the department, while making sure we hold the highest standard of professionalism to better serve the citizens of Argyle,” he said. “We are committed to maintain recognized status and provide to our community with the highest level of professionalism.”
Of the 2,653 agencies registered with TECLOSE, Highland Village, Roanoke, Corinth and now Argyle are the only Denton County-recognized agencies from the TPCA Best Practices Recognition Program.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.