Changes at LHPD reflect needs of growing community
By SARAH SILBERSTEIN
Under the leadership of Chief Maverick Campbell, who was hired by the City in June to fill the position after the retirement of longtime Chief Randy Williams, the department has increased staff and will soon be on duty around the clock.
“From a public safety standpoint, we’ve taken on a visionary outlook,” Campbell said.
With insufficient staff, the police department was attempting to watch over the city with only three officers when Campbell reported for duty in June. He quickly filled a few positions, then appealed to city council members to find additional money in the budget for 2016-2017 to create two more officer positions.
With a full staff, the department will become a 24-hour department this fall.
“The city of Liberty Hill is very unique because you not only have the resident population within the city, but you have the daytime population, the commuter population and the school population,” Campbell said. “A lot of the residents do not live within the city limits.”
Another way Campbell looked to enhance the police department was by giving it a makeover both cosmetically and professionally.
Cosmetically, Campbell worked with the officers to update patrol vehicle decals and to redesign the officer’s uniforms, patches and badges.
“The exciting part about that for my staff was that they had input on it, they all got to be a part of creating those things,” he said. “We did those things because what I wanted to do was modernize the police department.”
Regarding the professional makeover, Campbell created new ranks within the department to help establish the potential for officers’ professional growth. He said creating the rank of lieutenant helped boost morale.
Campbell has also set his sights on educating and building relationships with members of the community.
One of the first directives he gave officers as chief was to implement a “non-enforcement related contact policy”, which requires them to make contact with citizens and business owners in the community. This interaction allows officers to strike up a casual conversation about what problems exist in the community, what the police department can do to help, and any ideas the cities may have.
Since establishing the policy, Campbell said he feels positive that the police department has improved its working relationship with the community.
Campbell plans to establish workshops and programs similar to the “Donuts with the Chief” program he established while chief in Ellsworth, Kansas. These programs will allow citizens to interact with police in a casual setting while becoming educated on public safety topics like self defense and identify theft.
“When we’re proactive, we tend to reduce crime a lot easier, a lot faster, and it lets the criminal element know that we’re here and we’re not going to tolerate them jeopardizing the safety of our residents, our businesses, or people’s property,” he said.
In his first four months as Chief, Campbell said he has accomplished about 80 percent of the goals he he hoped to accomplish within his first year. Even so, he is not slowing down. He is “looking ahead to the future to stay ahead of the growth” by looking at statistics, trends and predictions to develop a longer term plan for the police department.