A Virtual Ride-Along: Waco P.D. Opens a Window with a View into Our Police World

by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Waco Police Department

On August 1, we conducted our first “virtual ride-along” at the Waco Police Department, giving citizens a bird’s eye view of our world. The goal was to let you, our community, into our profession from the comfort of your home or wherever else you access your Facebook or Twitter accounts. We wanted citizens to see what the daily activities of a police officers’ shift might include and, man, they got that!!

vicious-dogThose participating in the virtual ride-along started the day with an individual who had one too many margaritas and needed to visit one of our local emergency rooms. Then we introduced our K-9, Hondo, who discovered some crack cocaine in a vehicle. Then “riders” got to see the gentler side of policing when Officer Evans responded to a “Vicious Dog” call: The officer ended up a petting the dog, and the supposedly ferocious beast hopped into our squad for a ride to the Animal Services Center…wagging his tail along the way. And, there you have it! Our recent virtual-ride-along…This is just one of the things we would like to do on a consistent basis to get our citizens involved with us. (To see all the pictures from the virtual ride-along, click here: A night with Waco Police Department through a virtual ride-along.)

If you virtually followed along with Assistant Chief Holt and me that Friday, you hopefully became more aware of what and how we conduct business. I tried to put a bit of personality with the badges to show you that, yes, we are actually human! We can pet a dog, grab a bite to eat, and give a kid a break on his birthday. We can deal with the humdrum of the paperwork, and then switch gears with a moment’s notice to rush to the scene of an injury accident, or to put a drug addict in jail. It’s all part of what we do.

We police are at times a strange and distant lot. We don’t often show much personality when we deal with the public. Much of this is due to the simple reason that our jobs can change so quickly. As a police officer you can go from changing a light bulb because your dispatchers sent you to a recently widowed “she’s our Mom type” who was afraid to go out after dark, to the next minute standing in an alley spitting out your teeth because some thug sucker-punched you in the face because he didn’t want to go back to jail. YES!!! It can all change that quickly.

We don’t often ask for the public’s sympathy and that’s because we know…NO ONE made us sign up for this job. It was a conscious choice to become a Police Officer and one that if given the opportunity — even though we know the good and bad — most of us would make again.

Policing is a life choice. Once you are in, you become part of something much bigger than any “one” of us. You are a part of something that has stood the test of many years, protests and naysayers. We do what we do best, and that is to protect and serve our community.

We Waco Police are fortunate to serve in Waco where we have a good relationship with our community. No, it’s not always perfect, and it is something that will always need constant attention. However, Chief Stroman believes that continuing to be transparent and open about “your” Police Department is one of the best ways to foster a positive and trusting relationship with our citizens. So stay with us, be a part of us and this community, be proud of YOUR Waco Police Department and the City of Waco, and as one of our commentators from the Friday night virtual ride-along said, “Put on the Popcorn!!” In other words, stay tuned as there is more to come!!….”One Adam 12…One Adam 12… see the man at……”

patrick swantonThis week’s Blog was written by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Spokesman for Waco Police Department. (Facebook: WacoPoliceDepartment; Twitter: WacoPolice). If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email AshleyT@actlocallywaco.org

 

 

It Is You.

by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Waco Police Department

As we enter Police Memorial Week here in Central Texas, our hearts are heavily burdened with sadness at yet another loss for our brothers and sisters in Killeen. We can only imagine the sadness our friends are experiencing and send them our deepest and most sincere thoughts and prayers.

The unfortunate reality is that far too many officers are losing their lives in the line of duty. So far in 2014, communities in just the United States alone have lost forty-one Police Officers due to various events. We know that every day we go to work may be our final roll call. But I often wonder…do people realize what it is we are dying for? Have you ever really stopped and thought …why did that officer die?

Let me try to explain what it is that causes us to put ourselves in harm’s way. What it is that makes us run to the sound of gunfire when common sense tells you to run away; what it is that causes us to go down a darkened hallway looking for the deranged individual that just killed his family, or even something that is as simple as stopping a car for a traffic violation at 2:00 in the morning…on a lonely road…not knowing the man in the car had just picked up his monthly supply of meth and knows if he gets arrested he is a three-time loser and goes back to prison forever.

It’s you…our community, our friends and our neighbors. It’s YOU!!! Whether you like us or not, if we know you or not, or even if we have arrested you before; it makes no difference to us as we are tasked with keeping all safe. It is you that we stand watch for every day we wear the badge. It really is just that simple.

We don’t do it for the money, the glory or the occasional free cup of coffee and we certainly don’t do it to be called heroes or to make the local headlines; we simply do it because we believe in right and wrong. We believe that without someone to stand up to the bullies, punks, thugs, and killers in our world, there would be chaos.

No…we are not perfect, not always charming and sometimes not even friendly…but we are always there. We really are just a phone call away and ready to come running in the blink of an eye. I still say this after thirty-four years of policing…Law Enforcement is a noble profession and one I’m proud to be a part of.

We lose sometimes and that’s the most terrible part of this job. That is the one thing that makes this job almost unbearable. For some living in the aftermath, it will be the final straw. Knowing that some heartless, cowardly dirtbag was able to take one of us down leaves us with an incredible feeling of loss that unless you wear the badge or love one of us that does, is difficult to comprehend.

The feeling we get when an “Officer Down” call is dispatched is indescribable and haunts our nightmares continuously. But what is important to know is that we learn. We learn how to get better, we learn how to adjust and we learn how to heal…heal but not forget. And though it is hard to see at times…not one of us goes in vain as we all believe there is a lesson in everything. It’s unbelievable how those blue guardian angels whisper in our ear day in and day out…that doesn’t look right, or that car is out of place, or stay back and watch this guy a few minutes. More often than not they are absolutely right and we live to see another day.

It is paramount that we share our tears with our brothers and sisters in blue but more important than that is the fact that we will rise. We will be back at work tomorrow protecting those that expect it of us and even those that don’t invite it…we will keep watch over our responsibilities and do our best to keep the wolves at bay. And know this…we will never forget those that gave the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in the line of duty as we recognize this…John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

It is a sad time for our friends in Killeen and around the country for those communities that have lost officers in the line of duty. We mourn with you and pray for your healing. We stand together as the first line of defense for our communities and do so proudly.

To our citizens…it truly is you that we serve. Sometimes with the ultimate sacrifice.

patrick swantonThis week’s Blog was written by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Spokesman for Waco Police Department. (Facebook: WacoPoliceDepartment; Twitter: WacoPolice)

If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email AshleyT@actlocallywaco.org

.

 

Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton

Waco Police Department

 

Someone in Lorena Knows How to Raise a Child!

By Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Spokesman for Waco Police Department.  This originally appeared on the Waco Police Department Facebook page, and Sgt. Swanton has also graciously shared it with Act Locally Waco. 

Thought I’d share a story that happened last night while doing a part-time gig at the China Spring vs. Lorena Football game.

A little girl from Lorena, bout 7-8 years old walks up and tells me “Thanks officer for your service and keeping us safe!” I have a feeling that this is not the first time she has done that to someone in uniform…Military, EMS, Fire, etc.. as it came too naturally for her to do.

It was obvious to me that her Mom and Dad have made it a point to teach this little one what a lot of the world is missing today…Kindness, respect and an ability to thank others for what many take for granted.

So many times as officers we have parents grab a misbehaving small child and march them over to where we may be and scream at the child “I’ll have this officer put you in jail if you don’t stop (insert whatever behavior and it’s most often absolutely nothing)!! REALLY!!??? What on earth does the parent think this does to what the kiddo thinks about Police? How about making them terrified of us??? That’s exactly what it does. What happens when this child gets lost somewhere? Would you not want the child to feel safe walking up to an officer to ask for help in getting home?

I may never know who you are, but a hearty thanks to the parents of that little Lorena Leopard who is going to grow up to be a beautiful person! Mom and Dad…you are doing a great job!

This week’s Blog was written by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Spokesman for Waco Police Department. (Facebook: WacoPoliceDepartment; Twitter: WacoPolice)

If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email AshleyT@actlocallywaco.org.

Open Letter to Our New Student Neighbors

by Sgt. Patrick Swanton, Spokesman for the Waco Police Department

Let me be one of the first to welcome y’all to our city…Waco. There will be others that do that as well, such as the Waving Man, the Prophet, even the Statue of Liberty and the Wise Guy on Valley Mills Drive. The Waving Man won’t talk much,  but take the time to stop and talk to the Prophet (he’ll be on the walk-over on IH-35 at some point). Not only will you find him quite the conversationalist, but you’ll get a blessing if you request one!! (Who doesn’t need that now-a-days?)

waco bridge picWHAT TO DO: Those of you that are the fresh fish out-of towners here are in for a wonderful experience in our city. I wholeheartedly encourage you to get out a bit and experience Waco as a whole. Take a break from all the school stuff and see for yourself what we have to offer such as the Cameron Park Zoo, Dr. Pepper Museum, Waco Mammoth Site, and of course…the Suspension Bridge. Oh…and YES…it is okay to throw tortillas to feed the ducks!

Grab a kayak and hit the Brazos, wet a line in Lake Waco (pretty awesome when the White Bass are running), do the dam run (dam…as in big thing that holds water back) or explore Cameron Park’s 416 acres and hunt for the legendary Goat-Man. Word has it the Spirit of the Cameron Park Witch still haunts the area as well. Visit the Farmers Market on the weekend…Mom will feel better knowing at least you are looking at the vegetables.

Wanna try something really different??? I double-dog dare you to do a ride along with us (Waco’s Finest). It’s a real eye-opener to the world and who knows…we may spark an interest in your new desire to become the Po-Po…NO!!! The yearning to eat doughnuts is not obligatory…it’s an acquired trait.

I’M HUNGRY: Now for food…if you go hungry here it is your own fault, as we have a fantastic variety of restaurants in all flavors and values. You will grasp pretty quickly we Wacoans really enjoy our Mexican food. It will take tries at several places to discover which one of those fit your palette.

Word of caution…the Margaritas are tempting but not worth the trouble if you are under 21 or driving!! We welcome you to get to know your local police officers but strongly encourage you not to experience our jails, and guess what…it really doesn’t matter to us who your parents are; if we catch you drinking and driving, that experience is really gonna suck!

EXPERIMENT!! For goodness sake…munch on some ribs from Momma and Pappa B’s, eat (TRY anyway) a 4×4 at Dubl-R’s, enjoy the best catfish around at Jim’s Chicken in Bellmead, and most definitely eat as many cupcakes and cakeballs from the Olive Branch as humanly possible.

SAFETY FIRST: Remember…your safety is paramount to us at Waco P.D. and as much as we like bustin bad guys, we don’t need “volunteer victims.” Statistically speaking you’re much safer in groups than you are alone. Your purse is not safe in your car, even if you were only going to be inside for a few minutes. The I-pad, I-phone, G.P.S. or any other electronic device Mom and Dad gave you so they can track ya (sorry Moms and Dads but like they didn’t already know!!) make great items for some crackhead to sell for a few rocks. They (dopers) really don’t care that you’re having a melt-down because you can’t “Instagram,” Update Status or “Tweet” about the cop fingerprinting your broken into car. That’s life and it does occasionally happen. Do what you can to make it inconvenient for them. Hopefully they will move…to like, Idaho. (Sorry Idaho)

Yes, we do have crime in Waco…we aren’t bad as some others, but we aren’t Mayberry either. The important thing here is to realize that you can make a difference in your own safety. Be aware of your surroundings, pay close attention to that “sixth sense”, try not to walk or jog alone (*remember*…you have heard this twice now!), lock up and hide your valuables and drive safe; this means no texting or distracted driving.

THINGS TO REMEMBER: You still have a Mom and Dad or others that care about you…CALL THEM!! You will run out of money at some point and it’ll be really nice to have made a few new friends to help you enjoy the “gourmet ketchup packet soup” you’re dining on. Hopefully new friends will have the Ramen Noodles to share. Gas really is expensive, cable is not a necessity, and college life can be a blast, and No…not everyone is doing it (insert whatever you need to here).

We really are here to help and were young once too (some of us a lot longer ago than others). We can share with you some great memories or some that you would rather forget that can dramatically alter your planned path…that choice is yours.

Waco P.D’s goal is to keep you safe in your new surroundings. Help us do that by using common sense, being a responsible neighbor in your new city, and working with Waco to make us the kind of city in which you want to stay. Step up here, do something to help those less fortunate and importantly…be kind.

We welcome you to Waco and hope that you will consider this your home. The future is just beginning for many of you and you really are our future. Grasp that!!

Oh and now the shameless plug…Follow us on Facebook at Waco Police Department and Twitter @WacoPolice for happenings in and around our city and at Waco P.D. We keep ya updated on breaking crime alerts, funny happenings and general stuff we need to tell ya bout.

Stay safe, new neighbors, and take us up on the dare,

By Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Waco Police Department spokesman, August 21, 2013 (See this letter as a PDF)

Blah, Blah, Blah…Waco Police Starting to do More of That!!

By Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Spokesman for Waco Police Department

What!!?? The police want people to LIKE and FOLLOW us??? Absolutely!

Recently the Waco Police Department has opened up several new lines of communication with our citizens. We have jumped feet first into the hi-tech world of Social Media and so far have been greeted with an abundance of likes and followers. Social media geeksters are even sharing and re-tweeting our stuff!!

In our computer savvy, fast paced world we felt a need to be able to provide an instant information source for our citizens to keep them abreast of our day to day activities in and around our area. What better way than to use the already invented wheel of Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook?

Our detective division was the first to guinea pig (easy on the side comments!!) a Facebook page and we realized almost immediately how popular this would be. Detectives posted videos and photos of suspects committing crimes and were immediately able to receive tips leading to the arrest of those individuals. It is really quite amazing how much our community wants to help in making our neighborhoods safer.

The main Waco Police Department page at www.facebook.com/wacopolicedepartment is also entwined with our Twitter account @wacopolice so we can serve two totally different sets of our community. This page is designed to give our followers an up to date line of communication for news worthy events, and emergency communications such as weather, breaking criminal activities, traffic hazards and events that could immediately impact their lives. We also give you snapshots of common day to day on goings inside your police department.

swanton pic

Sgt. Swanton speaking at recent Social Media Day event.

The detective page www.facebook.com/WPDNSS  is designed to allow our followers to see individuals that commit crimes and to help make identification so we can obtain warrants of arrest. The administrator for this page also injects appropriate humor and fun! Fans and followers of our Social Media accounts can expect to be not only enlightened but at times appropriately entertained as well.

The sites may not be for the faint of heart.  At times we will provide a peek into a world that, quite honestly, some folks would prefer to not know about. Examples of this can be radio traffic quotes from officers or a bit more detail on crimes committed in our community that some may find disgusting. We do, however, keep it on the level of making our citizens aware of the real life that unfortunately does rear its ugly head in our fair city. We always try to have a learning point as well. For example: Stay away from crack as it tends to make you forget things…like your name!! Or, in the case of a wife-beater’s mug shot whose family does not like the fact that it is public information and posted for all to see, we kind of look at it like this… do the crime your mug makes primetime!!

On the light side, our pages really can be a bit amusing from time to time. Some of the things we see in our cop world will not only make you laugh but will simply amaze you with what some folks are capable of, good and bad.

We invite all to be our friends, followers, fans, and, yes, even groupies as you, our citizens, are truly what we are about. Making you, your family, your neighbors and neighborhoods safer is a responsibility we will all need to take on to be successful. We can do this, Waco! A big part of making our city safe is opening lines of communication never before tried. We welcome feedback and responses and look forward to chatting with you on the World Wide Web!!

This week’s Blog was written by Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton, Spokesman for Waco Police Department. (Facebook: WacoPoliceDepartment; Twitter: WacoPolice)

If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco blog, please email AshleyT@actlocallywaco.org.