Aledo has taken the first step in implementing a Citizens Police Academy and Citizens on Patrol program for the city.
The programs were researched and spearheaded by Aledo Place 3 Councilmember Clint Robinson, who is also a retired U.S. Army First Sergeant and a reserve police officer.
“We talked in March about starting this and adopting this like a lot of small cities have,” Robinson said at the July Aledo city council meeting. “A lot of what we’re talking about doing is done by volunteers and donations. We would have to ultimately become a 501c3 organization for that to take place and that will be part of our mission. This is primarily a very, very inexpensive program to run because of the 501c3 and the donations that we will receive from various organizations and fundraising.”
Those that graduate from the Citizens Police Academy implemented by the city could then join the Citizens on Patrol program.
“What you need is a policing organization that provides some guidance — training and direction,” John Engels, a graduate of local CPAs and the president of the Citizens Police Academy Alumni of North Texas, said.
The city of Aledo does not have a police department and instead contracts with the Parker County Sheriff’s Office. The city also has the Aledo ISD Police Department, which is utilized for the school district.
In February during a forum of the Parker County mayors, Aledo Mayor Kit Marshall to get a city police department would cost at least $500,000 just to start.
“For the city of Aledo, which is 2.6 square miles — the school district is much larger — ESD 1 provides fire protection for us. Aledo does not have a police department but we contract with the Parker County Sheriff’s Office and we have two deputies specifically assigned to the city of Aledo to provide law enforcement,” Marshall said at the February forum. “In order to put in a police department — which as we’re getting closer to that 5,000 population benchmark these are conversations we’re having — I use to say it would cost $500,000 just to start it and that has increased significantly, and who pays for that? Our residents do, so trying to factor in the public safety piece along with how you get the money to pay for a police department, that’s why we’re contracting with the sheriff’s department at this time.”
A COP program is primarily used in a support capacity — overseeing the city, helping assist other officers, providing security.
“They are not police officers,” Robinson said. “They can assist with traffic, they can assist other officers when need be, but they are not police officers. They’re just another set of eyes and are volunteers of our city.”
Citizens Police Academy and Citizens on Patrol programs also help raise funds for police departments.
“Weatherford’s CPA over its life has used its membership and relationship with the communities to raise funds to support the Weatherford Police Department,” Engels said.
Engels said the funds have been used to purchase tasers, refurbish the break room, purchase breathalyzers, a CSI kit and a full set of uniforms for their honor guard.
Robinson said following approval by the city council, the next steps would be to develop bylaws, determine a board and establish training dates.
“COVID-19 restrictions will dictate the start date, obviously — that’s dictating everything we do right now,” Robinson said. “A lot of our volunteers are possibility going to be senior citizens that aren’t working, so obviously we don’t want to put their health at risk.”
The Aledo city council unanimously approved implementing both programs.