Tag Archives: State of the City

APD returns to community policing

Terry Childers didn’t exactly distinguish himself during the year or so he served as Amarillo’s interim city manager.

Childers did, however, make one stellar personnel decision in 2016: hiring Ed Drain — an assistant police chief in Plano — as the interim chief of police when Robert Taylor retired as Amarillo’s top cop. Then he took the next step when he named Drain as the city’s permanent police chief. Not long after that, Childers quit and returned to Oklahoma City.

Drain, meanwhile, has distinguished himself in his few months on the job in Amarillo. Mayor Ginger Nelson brought out some key points regarding Drain’s tenure in her State of the City speech, noting some improvements that I want to look at briefly in this blog post.

One of them involves the return of community policing.

Former Police Chief Jerry Neal introduced to the city the notion of police officers making themselves more visible in the neighborhoods they patrol. He deployed bicycle patrols and instructed officers to engage in greater outreach to the communities they serve.

Then Neal retired. Taylor assumed command. Community policing disappeared. Then Taylor retired. In came Drain. Community policing has made a return.

As Nelson said Tuesday morning, the police department has instituted community policing programs in five neighborhoods. The program includes police substations where officers are able to do paperwork and perform other duties required of them.

The city has transformed the old North Heights YMCA into a community center now called the Charles Warford Center. It will include a police presence and will, according to Nelson, “provide a safe place for neighborhood children.”

It’s interesting to me that all this has occurred during Chief Drain’s time as head of the Amarillo Police Department.

I happen to be a big fan of community policing. It has worked in cities all across the nation. It puts police officers in more direct contact with the neighborhoods they serve. It helps remove the Us vs. The Man stigma that occasionally infects police relationships with the communities they serve.

Crime statistics suggest the city has work to do, according to Nelson, who said Tuesday that she intends to remove Amarillo from the list of “most dangerous cities in Texas.” She intends to make Amarillo known as one of the state’s “safest cities.”

I believe the mayor has a tremendous resource at her disposal in the form of Police Chief Ed Drain.

How about a State of the City speech, Mr. Mayor?


I’ve asked this before, and didn’t get much reaction to it.

Why doesn’t the Amarillo mayor deliver an annual State of the City speech?

Governors give State of the State speeches. And, yes, some mayors craft annual speeches on the state of the cities they govern.

Not here.

I once broached the idea out loud and then-Mayor Debra McCartt gave what I believe was a single speech. I can’t remember its content, which I guess might be why mayors here don’t bother with such speeches.

However, the city has gone through quite a lot of change in the past 10 months.

We elected three new City Council members, the city manager quit, as did the city attorney; the assistant city manager retired. We had a municipal referendum on the ballot this past November on whether to support construction of a $32 million multipurpose event venue/ballpark downtown; voters approved it.

A lot of work is ongoing.

State transportation department crews are digging up highways all around the city; we’re going to get a new western segment of Loop 335 installed; the southern portion of the loop also is under construction; streets are torn up.

We’re getting a new downtown hotel and parking garage.

Why doesn’t Mayor Paul Harpole — and then future mayors — make it part of their official duty to inform us at the start of every calendar year about the state of the city?

We’ve got a Civic Center that could serve as an appropriate venue. We have public access television provided by our cable network to televise such an event.

Amarillo residents keep getting battered by the media — and I include myself here — for failing to vote in sufficient numbers. Do we not care to know how our city is faring?

Consider this yet another request for the mayor to give us the nitty-gritty on how Amarillo is progressing. And I’m even open to hearing where the city has fallen short and how the mayor intends to make it right.