Yes, your Parsons Police Department is an award-winning law enforcement agency. Recently, I was asked what awards we have received - great question.
Traffic Safety Award
The American Automobile Association (AAA) has a nationwide traffic safety program that recognizes law enforcement agencies that have a combination of community outreach or education, engineering, and enforcement activities with the goal of reducing crashes in their communities.
For the past five years the Parsons Police Department has been an award-winning agency. In 2020, the Department received the AAA Platinum Award. AAA defines this as: Platinum Awards are given to communities that have documented new, perhaps innovative, traffic safety programs, projects, or initiatives for the previous year. These communities have also demonstrated outstanding success with high scores in all scoring categories.
The Parsons Police Department is one of 43 law enforcement agencies - comprising 32 police departments and 11 sheriff's offices - throughout the state that were honored with AAA Kansas Community Traffic Safety Awards for our 2020 work to keep roadways safe through a variety of initiatives and programs, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 26 of the 43 agencies achieved the Platinum status that Parsons did (20 were police departments). There are 371 law enforcement agencies in the State of Kansas.
The awards have been presented annually since 2011 by AAA Kansas to community law enforcement agencies for their efforts to foster and improve local traffic safety successfully and cost-effectively. The agencies are scored and recognized for their efforts in multiple categories, including education, emergency medical response, enforcement and traffic engineering collaborations and solutions.
Excellence in Policy & Training Management
Your Parsons Police Department was also awarded Gold Award Status by Lexipol LLC for Excellence in Policy & Training Management. The program uses metrics that look at the operating policies of the agency, quick policy modifications due to law or court decisions, participation in a daily training bulletin training program, the percentage of staff that have completed the DTB process over the past year and validation that policies have been reviewed and signed off by staff.
Parsons was only one out of 17,985 local law enforcement agencies nationwide. Of those roughly 4,500 were qualified to be a participant in the Lexipol evaluation. Nationwide less than 400 agencies received the Gold Award Status. This equates to Parsons PD being in the top 2.2% of agencies nationwide and in the Top 9% of agencies qualified to participate in the evaluation program nationwide.
What are the Recognition Levels?
This is how Parsons PD rated:
As you can see, Parsons PD far exceeded the minimum requirements for the Gold status.
Parsons Police Annual Report is a Winner!
Another area that the agency received praise from was part of the 2019/20 CRI-TAC Grant that was administered by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) from the Department of Justice (DOJ). During the exit interview with the team from IACP in reviewing our community outreach efforts, and in developing a community survey (that will be administered later in 2021), the agency was complemented on our Annual Report. We were told that our Annual Report was one of the best in the nation in its thoroughness, transparency, and depth of information.
Annual Reports are not statutorily mandated, but they are the report to the community on work volume, crime rates, arrest and traffic data, crash information, use of force reporting and offer accountability and transparency to the stakeholders of a community - our citizens.
Of course, these awards and other achievements of your police department can occur only through the hard work of the officers and staff of the Parsons Police Department.
Not quite 3-years ago when I arrived in Parsons, our town was a different place. But, change and evolution is not something that you can stop, even if we'd like those 'good old days' that exist only in our memories.
Policing in Parsons and throughout our region has gotten more challenging and more dangerous over my tenure as Chief of Police. That has meant that developing partnerships and policing smarter has become critical.
For our part, you see some of the best partnerships in policing happening locally. The Labette County Sheriff's Office, Parsons PD, and County Attorney's Office as well as the Juvenile Department and our federal partners (US Marshal's Office, Drug Enforcement Administration) along with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation share information, partner in programming, and investigations and are tied together through our Kansas - Combined Anti-Drug Taskforce (K-CAT).
Sounds like simple common sense doesn't it?
That cooperation is not always alive in all areas of the country. The idea that a Sheriff's Deputy and a city police officer would share 'common ground' as we do in Parsons is the exception and not the rule across the country. Sure personalities, politics - those things impact the criminal justice system just like they do in life in general. Fortunately, that has not been the case in recent years here in Parsons and in Labette County. Labette County Sheriff Darren Eichinger and County Attorney Stephen Jones have been instrumental in working with, listening to, and developing new partnerships that reach throughout SE Kansas to enhance the criminal justice system.
I have had a unique policing career covering four-decades, I've worked in all three of the west coast states as well as in metropolitan and rural venues that have also includes airport, seaport, and railroad operations. I jumped into University policing as a Chief for 6 more years in Louisiana. Needless to say, I've been exposed to all levels of the criminal justice system. Here in Labette County, today - we have some of the best inter-agency relationships, information sharing, and investigative successes ever seen in Labette County. Regardless of big cities or rural venues - things are working, even with strained budgets, in our County. Sheriff Eichinger and County Attorney Jones are not one's to self-promote, but they are the lynch pins in our areas many successes.
A recent drug interdiction effort that resulted in multiple arrests included a team of Parsons PD, Labette Sheriffs, KBI Agents and Chanute PD K-9 Teams. We are collaborating on training and technology with our other partner police agencies of Independence (Chief Jerry Harrison), Coffeyville (Chief Kwin Bromley) and Pittsburg (Chief Brent Narges) and we want to grow those relationships even more. Without this cross jurisdictional support and teamwork, well things are just more dangerous.
Locally our Department has increased transparency with a new web site that provides a massive amount of information about policing, crime data, prevention tips, podcasts and so much more. You can sign up to receive alerts by text or email. Please visit us at www.parsonspd.com . The COVID-19 Pandemic had us rely more upon social media platforms such as Twitter and www.NextDoor.com . The results have been overwhelmingly successful.
Citizens can't sit on the sideline. Thirty-five years ago, a national campaign was birthed that introduced McGruff the Crime Dog as an American icon that is "taking a bite out of crime."
In the early 1970s, most people thought it was strictly up to law enforcement to prevent crime. However, a group of concerned private citizens and government leaders believed that working individually and collectively, in tandem with the police, could aid in crime prevention.
Since his debut, McGruff has been instrumental in showing adults and youth alike how their involvement can reduce crime. Today more than three out of four Americans believe they can personally do something to prevent crimes from occurring. While crime in general has been reduced from the highs seen in the 1990s, it remains a reality in communities across the nation every day, including Parsons. To this end, it is clear that even with a more diverse, older, technology savvy nation, McGruff the Crime Dog still has a job to do.
In the past quarter-century, McGruff has become more than just a familiar face. He is a true piece of Americana. We can all "Take A Bite Out of Crime." For more information about the National Crime Prevention Coalition, visit www.ncpc.org. Locally, we have seen a huge increase in citizen participation by adopting our motor of 'See It! Hear It! Report It! Check out the crime prevention and information resources available on-line at the Parsons Police Department's web site at; www.parsonspd.com