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Dalhart council approves interlocal agreement with Amarillo for interim police chief

Posted by: tdt -

Dalhart council approves interlocal agreement with Amarillo for interim police chief

The Dalhart Texan

Dalhart’s ongoing police chief woes have prompted the city to take drastic steps. Following the loss of interim police chief Eloy Duran, the city has entered into an inerlocal agreement with the Amarillo Police Department for an interim police chief - Jimmy Johnson - who is an assistant chief in Amarillo.

Johnson has been in Dalhart about a month, and the city approved the agreement Sept. 12. Amarillo approved the agreement the next day. Johnson is a 34-year veteran of the Amarillo Police Department, has been an assistant chief there for two years and graduated from Amarillo College and Wayland Baptist University in Plainview. He recently completed the FBI National Academy.

“That’s an executive development program that the FBI has put endive the 1930s, and maybe further back than that,” Johnson said. “It’s simply a way for the Federal government to offer training for local law enforcement executives. It’s a great program, less than 1 percent of law enforcement officers ever get to attend the national academy. In my little world, it’s a huge deal.”

Johnson received the phone call about the Dalhart opportunity the night before he got married.

“We’ve never done this before, we’ve never had an interim leader in Amarillo go somewhere else,” Johnson said. “We’ve had a couple interims come in and I’ve worked under a couple interims there.”

The chief in Amarillo had discussed doing this for local area agencies in need. “From time to time this happens,” Johnson said. “So when (City Manager) Stacey (Norris) called it was kind of fortunate timing and we were ready to kind of launch that. You guys are our first test customer.

“I didn’t know what to expect, coming in.” He made it clear to the Dalhart officers on his first day that he would need guidance from them to familiarize himself with Dalhart,

“I’m not here to make the Dalhart Police Department the Amarillo Police Department,” Johnson said.

“This is a totally different community, totally different logistics. There are some things that are common to all law enforcement and those are the things that I hope to bring here.”

He said the men and women of the Dalhart PD are good officers.

“They want to do the right things, it’s just what I’m observing is it’s been - I don’t want to say a lack of leadership - it’s been very tumultuous leadership at the agency,” Johnson said. “I’m hoping to try to stabilize that while I’m here.”

His goal is to start gathering the data that a new chief will need in order to implement some longterm plans for the department. “I’m passionate about what I do and I do get emotional because I see the men and women (at the Dalhart PD) and how much they want to do the right thing,” Johnson said. “They’re trying to find their way, as any department would, it’s just not been kind of a focused effort in giving them direction.”

The first thing Johnson said that needs to be done is to collect the data to find out where the problems are in order to allocate the department’s resources.

“Even something as simple as how many officers you need is going to be driven by data,” Johnson said. “And unfortunately, the data I collected, council member (Michelle) Griffin had to collect it by hand because there is no system where - we’ve been collecting data with computers for fourand- a-half, five decades, that’s commonplace now - and we’re not able to do that here, and there’s a variety of reasons for that.”

Johnson also said that uniforms, vehicles, equipment have been neglected.

“Those are all longterm things that we need to start laying the groundwork for right now to come up with a plan on how we’re gonna fix it,” Johnson said. “I would venture to guess that some of the problems you’re seeing (at the Dalhart PD) you’re going to see in any police department across the country, it’s just a matter of how you address it. “I don’t want to give you the impression that you’ve got a broken department, it’s just things need to be tightened up.”

Johnson also wants to improve community engagement, such as “Coffee with the Chief,” which took place Sept. 8 at the Flying Pig Coffee Bar. Activities where the community engages with the police in a positive manner, not just a call for service.

“We need to do more of that,” Johnson said. “In the next few weeks and months you’re going to see a lot more of us active in the community. It’s just fun to do, especially in a town like Dalhart where everybody kind of knows everybody.”


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