Weatherford News

New shift program helps protect, deter

New Year’s Eve is a time of traditions for many people, whether it is staying up until midnight and kissing a loved one, watching fireworks shows or enjoying some black-eyed peas.

But for police departments, it is a different tradition altogether.

Between New Year’s TV specials or football games leading up to New Year’s Eve, reminders to not drink and drive were viewed across the nation.

The Weatherford Police Department distributed its own public service announcements as well, warning people to stay safe and off the streets as much as possible over the holiday.

Although Weatherford is not necessarily an area that has a serious crime problem as seen in larger cities, the Police Department still made adjustments to help prevent an increase in crime over the holiday.

Police Chief Mike Manning said that more than a year ago, the department began implementing power shifts — a shift that covers the busier evening hours on top of the normal 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. day shift and 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. night shift.

“That makes a drastic difference because we have an extra group of officers on the street,” Manning said of the overlapping shift.

On alternating holidays each year, the department will also place extra officers on the streets to help with traffic. The extra officers were not utilized this New Year’s, but Manning said they were pleasantly surprised by how light traffic was.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Manning said. “Our crime rate has continued to drop over the last several years.”

That drop was seen even over New Year’s Eve, when there were no driving while intoxicated arrests, even lower than the two arrests made over New Year’s Eve 2012.

Four arrests were made over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day this year, none of them directly related to alcohol. Over that same time span last year, seven were arrested — four for public intoxication and another two DWIs.

Manning said the stricter justice system in Parker County also discourages drunken driving since DWIs are hard to get out of without harsh punishment.

While the department’s efforts at prevention helped keep crime statistics down, Manning said residents also had a great impact.

“We’re proud of our citizens,” Manning said. “That’s what make it [work], is the citizens realize their need to stay off the streets for their own safety.”

Manning said they hope to see the crime rate continue to drop, not just over the holidays but throughout the year.