Travis County Sheriff’s Office Citizens Academy Community Outreach Program Update

by Margaret McGhee-Sufke, WBNA President

I recently participated in two interactive safety awareness programs, TCSO Citizens Academy and the Central Texas Public Safety Cadet Competition. TSCO Deputy Alexis White, Community Outreach Officer invited members of the Wells Branch community to experience first hand how our local law enforcement officers work so hard to help keep us safe.

The TCSO Citizens Academy is a 12 week program, meeting one evening a week. The program began in mid-March and topics included so far: a comprehensive team introduction, a full officer training program review, telecommunications and dispatcher overview, and detailed patrol services report. Course instructors led in-depth discussions while sharing first hand experiences from the various field units; Victim Services, DWI, Lake Patrol, Crisis Intervention, SWAT, VICE, School Resource and Auto Theft.

Each section was led by an active serving officer who specializes in a given unit. The wealth of information provided has been extremely insightful. The key take away is that each and every officer can only be fully effective with the help and support of the community. Here’s a short list of “hot topics”:

Telecommunications/Dispatch – 911: CALL. You must call RIGHT AWAY when you see something out of place, suspect there is a serious issue or witness a crime. Officers can only respond and act quickly if they are aware of an issue. The TCSO operations duty officer explained that they have their own 911 dispatch system that specifically covers ETJ areas, like Wells Branch. Their call routing program includes a very sophisticated system to prioritize calls—let the professionals manage the calls. Their final message was: When in doubt, CALL OUT. Ask Dispatch immediately to connect you to TCSO.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Several officers mentioned just how important it is to be aware of your surroundings, but most folks have trouble accurately describing a location. Good news, there’s an “app for that”. What3Words:  This tool is FREE and every team strongly recommended loading this program on your phone. Check the Apple App Store or Google Play. If you use the trail system in Wells Branch, this app is a MUST!

Document Community Issues: Officers cannot react without detailed information, especially for on-going or repeat issues. No one enjoys being a “tattle-tale” or crying wolf, but it the issue is serious and other communication routes have failed or you feel threatened you can report your concern online: Follow the prompts and the incident will be recorded and officers will follow up.

Protect Yourself and Your Neighbors: Every officer restated this message. Get involved; know your neighbors and practice being safe. Start a community crime watch group. Request a home safety check at: Community involvement is your best defense. As always, lock up, stay aware, use home security tools and be proactive, don’t set yourself up as a victim.

Remember, the TCSO deputies are our first response law enforcement team for Wells Branch. Every officer I have met is a dedicated professional committed to public safety. They are here to serve our community, please help by supporting the TCSO team. Stay safe.

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