There is more to a police department than just patrolling either on foot or in vehicles and the Prosper Police Department is no exception. Complicated by the incredible growth experienced in Prosper, it’s no easy task to keep the department where it needs to be to serve its residents well. Assistant Police Chief Gary McHone and Chief Doug Kowalski both agree the Town of Prosper is taking care of the department’s needs even though it’s not easy.
McHone says his department has needs just like the other departments in the town. “But the town is going through the steps to get us everything,” he said. “It’s not an overnight process. Once the new town hall is occupied we will do some minor remodeling to the existing town hall and put the police department under one roof.”
That will allow the department to give up the leased space at 110 West Broadway. McHone said it’s been leased for several years. But space is not the only consideration when police officers are employed. There is a lot of equipment furnished to officers from uniforms to AR15 rifles.
Entry-level officers are paid slightly more than $60,000 and that’s competitive with the area. McHone says there are currently 26 authorized full-time positions and they are in the process of hiring two more. Thinking optimistically, he says there may be a couple more positions available in the upcoming fiscal year. But, if you’re not competitive with the area, you just serve as a training ground for the agencies surrounding us, he added.
“We want a high-level service,” he said. “With around 22,000 people, we want to attract and retain the best quality people we can get.”
Officers must undergo a battery of tests for fitness, polygraph and other abilities and that comes with an expense. “We provide uniforms, cold-weather gear, wet-weather gear, hand gun, taser, hand-held radio (which by itself is about $4,000), body camera, vest under the uniform, hand cuffs, baton, holster and more. Altogether, an officer’s equipment weighs in at 30-50 pounds.”
McHone says officers are responsible for upkeep and inspections are conducted regularly to be sure everything is in working order.
The biggest expense is by far the patrol car which, after outfitting, rings in at a price tag of about $60,000. The department has 12 right now. “Like any other resource, you want to protect those vehicles,” McHone said. Currently, there is no covered space under which to park these vehicles, so when a hail storm rolls in, things get challenging to find a place that offers protection until the storm passes. McHone says it’s on their list to eventually get a public safety facility. “We’ve looked at all kinds of options, including underground parking or some type of covered parking comparable to what a lot of our neighboring cities do for their fleets,” he said. “When we have the temporary remodeling, we will look at options for where we can put our patrol cars to have a better way to protect them. I don’t know what the answer is going to be.”
The Town of Prosper covers an area three miles by nine miles so it doesn’t take long to get from the northern border with Celina and the southern border with Frisco. But moving from the eastern border with McKinney to the western border in Denton County takes a larger investment of time.
Being sensitive to this issue the Prosper Fire Department added an area that police can use in the new Fire Station No. 2 on Teel Parkway, almost to Windsong Ranch. It gives officers a chance to stop and do paper work, use the computer, or any number of tasks without having to return all the way to Broadway Street. “It’s not a stand-alone space out there; it’s not a space to go and find police,” McHone said. “But it’s there for an operational and internal stand point.”
There is also expected to be a store-front space for the police department among the new retail stores just beginning to open in the Gates of Prosper. “When officers are on patrol in that sector of town they will come there for writing reports and may even interview people there as well as having a space to get a break,” McHone said. “The biggest benefit is we will have a police presence there. It will be a win for all of us. A side of the environment that lets people know we are there; it’s a place to shop that’s well-lit and safe.”
The basic snapshot of what McHone is describing is a footprint on the west side of town as well as the east side. “Do what remodeling we can on the existing town hall and then focus a lot on the resources and conversation for a public safety center.”
Protecting and serving the community of Prosper is not something the Prosper Police Department takes lightly. They are handling the excessive growth along with everyone else. But the standards by which the PPD makes its decisions on needs and wants is how best will it serve and protect the people of Prosper.
Joyce Godwin | Joyce@CedarbrookMedia.com