The Waxahachie Police Department is taking a pro-active approach to crime with the formation of a new specialized unit. The Problem Directed Response Team’s mission will be to put a halt to serious issues before they have a chance to grow.
Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby said he had planned to create this unit in the next few years but its timetable was sped up after officers worked several homicides that involved narcotics.
“What we started seeing was more narcotics and more narcotics-related violence,” Goolsby told the Sun. “I said, ‘You know what? We are going to go ahead and bump the schedule.’
“We went ahead and got a little bit creative internally and were able to move some people around (and) that opened the opportunity for officers to be on the unit,” he said. “We are going to start small. We are going to have a three-person unit. They will be able to focus on whatever comes along. Their meat and potatoes will be narcotics.”
The unit’s scope of work won’t be limited to narcotics. If the unit needs to help in other areas such as traffic enforcement if a rise in DWI arrests is being seen, for example, or in the event an increase is occurring with thefts, burglaries or auto theft, then these three officers can be brought in to help.
The unit’s work will also center on growing issues and trends they see in the community.
“They don’t have a particular mission statement but the goal is to hit a problem and to get some immediate results by being able to focus on that problem. Hopefully, we will be able to do that,” Goolsby said. “I have seen it work elsewhere. They are called different things. They may be different names, like a street crimes unit, but they can be very effective. The key is identifying an issue, getting them on it.”
A George Mason University Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy study found that problem-oriented policing appears most effective when the police department is on board and fully committed to the tenets of problem-oriented policing.
Program expectations must be realistic and officer caseload must be kept to a manageable level, with police not to be expected to tackle significant problems in a short period of time. The study also found that collaboration with outside criminal justice agencies is an effective approach in problem-oriented policing.
Goolsby said the PDRT will work with other law enforcement agencies in the area as well the Drug Enforcement Agency’s High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force and Ellis County’s narcotics unit through the sharing of information.
The PDRT “has already gone active,” Goolsby said. “It has got two people in it right now. The third person will join here in a couple of weeks and then they will be up to staff.
“They already made one arrest on a warrant we had out on somebody,” he said. “We got information that they were in another town. They went and set up at the location and they spotted the subject and got him into custody.”