Houston Police Department Chief Tim Ceplina stands next to one of two Ford Explorer patrol vehicles added to the department's fleet in 2018.

While the number of written case reports they generated was down, officers with the Houston Police Department continued to be very busy in 2018 with traffic stops, citations and warnings rising.

Chief Tim Ceplina’s year-in-review data shows that officers wrote 654 reports last year, the lowest total in four years and down from an all-time high of 747 in 2017. However, Houston officers responded to a whopping 4,950 calls for service in 2018.

“It was definitely another busy year,” Ceplina said. “We had plenty of chances to do our jobs.”

During 2018, officers conducted 1,450 traffic stops, resulting in 627 citations and 1,373 warnings. That’s compared to 2017 totals of 1,200 traffic stops, 491 citations and 1,223 warnings.

Ceplina said the year began with a goal of the HPD’s seven full-time road officers having increased visibility on the streets.

“We have maintained increased traffic enforcement in a direct attempt to reduce motor vehicle accidents and increase officer presence in our jurisdiction,” he said. “And we’re going to continue high traffic enforcement this year, because we’ve shown that if you maintain high officer presence you reduce accidents and all kinds of other crime. Criminals don’t want to be where there’s high law enforcement presence.”

{{tncms-inline alignment=”right” content=”<p>•Service call responses: 4,950</p> <p>•Written case reports: 654</p> <p>•Traffic stops: 1,450</p> <p>•Citations: 627</p> <p>•Warnings: 1,373</p> <p>•Traffic accidents: 129</p> <p>•Domestic violence calls: 59</p> <p>•Assaults: 31</p> <p>•Assault on officer: 1</p> <p>•DWI investigations: 20</p> <p>•Stolen vehicle cases: 2</p> <p>•Theft investigations: 178</p> <p>•Felony arrests: 202</p> <p>•Misdemeanor arrests: 334</p> <p>•Warrant arrests: 150</p> <p>•Drug crimes: 100</p>” id=”84f9f105-6a3b-4b3a-8569-02417518c237″ style-type=”bio” title=”THE HPD IN 2018″ type=”relcontent” width=”half”}}

Domestic violence and assaults were still prevalent in Houston in 2018 but decreased from 2017. Officers dealt with 59 domestic violence cases last year, down from 88 in 2017, and 31 assaults, compared to 39 the previous year. There was also one assault on an officer in 2018.

Ceplina said all assault cases were cleared.

“The decreases show the effectiveness of increased presence from the addition of a seventh road officer,” he said.

Officers never really know what they’re getting into when responding to domestic incidents or conducting traffic stops, Ceplina said.

“Those remain the most dangerous types of contacts for officers at both the state and national level,” he said.

HPD officers investigated 20 driving while intoxicated incidents in 2018. They also dealt with two stolen vehicle cases, with both vehicles being recovered. A third stolen vehicle was recovered for another agency.

HPD officers investigated 178 thefts in 2018 (and cleared most of them) and made 202 felony arrests (up from 158 in 2017), 334 misdemeanor arrests and 150 warrant arrests.

Drug cases continued to increase in Houston in 2018, as HPD officers handled 100 drug-related crimes compared to 73 in 2017.

“And we’re already looking to do more drug investigations this year,” Ceplina said. “We’re also going to be seeking more drug enforcement training for the officers. Using this information, we’re trying to build for the future to be better prepared to protect the community.”

MORE TO THE STORY

Ceplina pointed out that while the HPD totals from 2018 appear high for a town with a population of about 2,100, there’s more to the story than that population figure would suggest.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that while we’re a 2,100-person town, through the business day we’re closer to a 5,000-person town,” he said. “We’ve got the hospital, the courthouse, the high school and Walmart, and we’re the county seat. This is where people come.”

HPD
HPD

Ceplina said the implementation of school resource officer (SRO) Josh Green prior to this school year has been a big benefit to the school district and police department.

“It has gone very well,” he said. “We think our partnership with the school is great, and we’re both in it for the right reasons: To protect the students and the staff.”

Ceplina envisions helping the Texas County Sheriff’s Department and other county school districts connect with SRO programs.

“Ultimately, we want other school districts to look at what we’re doing and ask, ‘How can we do that?’” Ceplina said.

Improvements within the HPD last year included a significant remodel of the police station at city hall, the addition of two new Ford Explorer patrol vehicles and rocker panel emergency lights to all vehicles in the fleet. All patrol vehicles are now equipped with state of the art radar gear and all officers now have mobile data terminals (MDT) in their vehicles that can be used at all times for accessing information, communicating without using radio and even writing case reports.

“That way they can be out and about more and don’t have to spend as much time at their desks,” Ceplina said.

Improvements planned in 2019 include adding access to the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (M.U.L.E.S.) to patrol vehicles.

“The highway patrol has that now,” Ceplina said, “and we feel like that’s a valuable and important tool that should be available to all officers while they’re in the field.”

Training will remain a priority in 2019, Ceplina said. Lt. Brad Evans is scheduled to attend generalist instructor school and officer Travis Thompson will attend firearms instructor school.

“In building for the future, we want guys to have the knowledge they’ll need to keep this department in the best possible condition,” Ceplina said.

Due to the recent departure of Jacob Shannon, a full-time road officer who took a job outside of law enforcement, the HPD is seeking a replacement.

“The ideal candidate would be someone who is responsible, professional, polite, intelligent and willing to work any shift needed,” Ceplina said. “It would also be someone who is highly self-motivated. We’re a small department, but we’re a busy department.”

Ceplina said whoever is next to join the agency will be part of a special group.

“We have fantastic officers working here right now,” he said. “To quote Richard Branson, ‘I want to train these guys so they can go anywhere they want, but I want to treat them well enough that they never want to leave.’”

IT’S ALL ABOUT HOUSTON

Ceplina said the HPD did all it could in 2018 to make Houston a better place.

“With the addition of a seventh road officer and a school resource officer, we’ve been able to do great things,” he said. “We’ve reduced our investigated crimes and our traffic accidents, we’ve been able to serve more search warrants than we ever have before, and we’ve really gotten after drugs in an attempt to lessen them in our community.

“It all comes down to making this a safer place to live and raise a family.”

Ceplina said that unlike some areas in the U.S. (particularly some urban areas), Houston has been – and still is – very supportive of its law officers.

{{tncms-inline alignment=”center” content=”<p>“People want safety and security in their lives, and we get that.”</p> <p><strong>HPD CHIEF TIM CEPLINA</strong></p>” id=”b2012593-be8b-46bc-83f0-164332a3e39a” style-type=”quote” title=”Tim quote” type=”relcontent” width=”full”}}

“Myself as the chief and all of the officers greatly appreciate the support from the community that we’ve had in the past,” Ceplina said, “and we hope it continues in the future. Houston has always been a very police-positive community, and we don’t take that lightly.

“I hope people understand what a blessing that is – not just as an officer, but as a citizen.”

Ceplina said his department is focused on helping make Houston as good as it can be.

“People want safety and security in their lives, and we get that,” he said. “It’s an honor to be in this role of serving the people of this community, and I honestly believe my officers feel the same way.

“We really do want this to be the safest community we can provide. If we can make people feel safer and physically make them safer, that’s what we’re here for.”

The HPD’s phone number is 417-967-3348.

“People want safety and security in their lives, and we get that.”

HPD CHIEF TIM CEPLINA

•Service call responses: 4,950

•Written case reports: 654

•Traffic stops: 1,450

•Citations: 627

•Warnings: 1,373

•Traffic accidents: 129

•Domestic violence calls: 59

•Assaults: 31

•Assault on officer: 1

•DWI investigations: 20

•Stolen vehicle cases: 2

•Theft investigations: 178

•Felony arrests: 202

•Misdemeanor arrests: 334

•Warrant arrests: 150

•Drug crimes: 100

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply