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New Denton police chief meets with community to hear concerns, address communication

New Denton police chief meets with community to hear concerns, address communication

New Denton police chief meets with community to hear concerns, address communication
October 23
13:39 2018

Six days into his new position as Denton Police Chief, Frank Dixon spoke to about 40 people about issues within the community at the Denton Public Library for an event hosted by the District 2 City Councilperson Keely Briggs. The two-hour meeting was an opportunity for Denton residents to express their personal concerns to Dixon in a non-threatening environment.

Briggs, who is assigned to the Citizen Engagement and Ethics comittees and the  Community Justice Council,  told attendants she was looking forward to learning as much as they were.

“The chief of police is a big job that touches every aspect of our community,” Briggs said. “I think it’s important for him to hear what the citizens are passionate about, as well as [the community] hearing his goals and concerns.”

Dixon has worked as an officer for 23 years, most recently as assistant chief of police for the Austin Police Department. Dixon was named to the position after long-time Denton Chief Lee Howell left to take the position of police chief in Saginaw, Texas.

A main concern of many attendees was officers relations with the homeless, elderly, mentally ill and disabled, as well as solutions for helping people. Dixon spoke about working together as a community to solve some of these issues. He emphasized coordination and education by the police department and the city to better understand how to interact with people.

“These are all-encompassing issues that go beyond the police department,” Dixon said when asked about officers’ interaction with citizens. “Lack of resources turns into us taking people to jail. Once we as a society begin treating each other the same across the board, we’ll have better solutions.”

Jane Piper-Lunt, an advocate for the homeless in Denton, said she thinks Dixon is going to be helpful in assisting the homeless community. She said she believes his experience in Austin has given him knowledge, makes him a good fit for Denton.

Dixon was initially contacted about taking the position by a job recruiter and after some research on the the city, he made a few visits. Dixon said he found the vision the community has for itself falls in line with his own. After an extensive application process, Dixon was selected over 110 other applicants for the position.

Communication was a key factor Dixon highlighted throughout the meeting. Dixon said 90 percent of being a cop is being able to communicate. Additionally, he said he is seeking out ways of being more transparent and open to the public, like releasing all policy changes to the public through the police department’s website, as well as possibly hiring interns from the local universities.

Leveraging technology is something else Dixon said is important to him. He spoke of different uses of technology to better the communication between the agency and civilians including creating a tip hotline app and setting up a phone number and email for citizens to file complaints without going to the office.

“Community policing is policing with a community and not to the community,” Dixon said. “It’s really connecting with you guys and building a relationship  so that when something happens, you already know who we are. The force multiplication of us working with the community is unequivocal.”

Roseann Beck, a former registered nurse who said she remembers when Denton had only 40 police officers, said she was impressed by Dixon’s forward thinking.

“He’s young and innovative,” Beck said. “I think he can make some good changes. We need somebody like that.”

Dixon said he is looking forward to his time as police chief.

“I have so many focuses and things I want to implement,” Dixon said. “There’s a lot. The overall operations doesn’t stop because I’m new. It’s like running alongside a train, but I think it’s going good so far.”

Featured Image: Frank Dixon, newly hired as the Denton police chief, right, talks with locals during a meet-and-greet last week. 

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Xavier Spurlock

Xavier Spurlock

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