2017 State Of The City and County

Corsicana Police Chief Robert Johnson and Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner
Corsicana Police Chief Robert Johnson and Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner
Corsicana and Navarro Men in Blue
Chris Baldwin, County Chair of the Republican Party Of Navarro County, called the January 16, 2017 meeting to order, for presenting the law enforcement “State of the City / County” from Corsicana Police Chief Robert Johnson and Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner. The purpose is to show the Republican Party of Navarro County supports local law enforcement.

Corsicana Police Chief’s Report:

Robert Johnson was newly appointed as Corsicana Police Chief seven months ago. He was raised in Fairfield TX, and went to school with Terry Knight. He started with the Texas A&M police academy in 1985, where there was an opening with the College Station Police Department. He married Stacy Glass, currently 29 years. He worked with the Corsicana Police Department. He went to work for Dallas hospital police, commuting for 24 years. When the Coriscana Police Chief opening occurred, he came back. He desires to provide opportunity and direction to the CPD. Professionalism and talent are growing. Most important in a small community, Chief Johnson desires to maintain a good relationship with the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office.

Chief Johnson reported upon the difference in the past seven months.
1. Before, the CPD was 15 officers short, and now he has created two lieutenant positions openings for the creating growth. He explained, the issue is not always money, but officers desire an opportunity to grow within their community (promotions from patrol to sergeant to captain to lieutenant). Recruitment has been resolved, retention is challenging. Fifteen officers have less than 3 years experience, and after 3 to 5 years, officers become confident and think about moving on, so they must feel valued here. Thirteen of those fifteen have under one year experience. The Police Chief must handle the officers’ needs and emotions.
2. To change a culture, he will keep his office door open, and allow people the opportunity to be heard.
A. The Police Chief, Lieutenant, and Captain are expected to dress in long sleeves and a tie, to set the tone by appearance. If the police look professional, people will not test you.
B. The police department will not improve unless you challenge the system. Communication begins with meetings and briefings each morning. It must be accurate, with a sense of urgency. Most people do not mind following commands, but it is how you say it. People are smart, so explain why you are doing it. The same applies to handling the budget, by explaining why their expenditure request has been denied. (Example: Sheriff’s SWAT vehicle).

Chief Johnson knows the employees on the ground do the real work, not the administration. His role is to challenge the system, asking: Why would it not work? He desires to provide guidance and expectation; to give employees the ability to make a mistake. A complaint is an opportunity. The police department is a business which sells safety and security. Customers must be treated with respect and dignity – even if they don’t deserve it – and develop a good reputation.

In closing, Corsicana Police Chief Robert Johnson loves this community a lot, and this is how he intends to run his department after 25 years of experience. He has commuted to Dallas, but he still calls Corsicana home. The Corsicana Police Department office is located at 200 North 12th Street. “You do not need an appointment,” he said.

Navarro County Sheriff Report:

Sheriff Elmer Tanner regularly speaks at the Corsicana Police Department 8:30am-10:00am meetings, just a few blocks from the Navarro County Courthouse. The Corsicana Police Department and Navarro County Sheriff’s Office are very similar, but different. (1.) He has invested 30 years of his life with the NCSO and introduced his wife Mandy attending. (2.) It is necessary to close his office door to get work done.

Sheriff Tanner considers the citizens as his supervisor, reporting to them. The Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the County, not the FBI or DPS state troopers. He has 135 employees total and a $10.2 million budget.
A. Oversee patrol operations to respond to assistance calls. There are 100,000 emergency 9-1-1 calls since Tanner became Sheriff. The Navarro County Sheriff’s Office is a proactive agency to stop crime before it happens.
B. Oversee the Navarro County correctional facility, where 76 of the total 135 employees work. They process 300 inmates per month and 15,000 last year. The average population of the jail is 225 inmates, and they bear the medical burden of them, also.

The patrol division includes narcotic criminal investigations. They communicate and dispatch to not only the NCSO, but all 24 volunteer agencies within Navarro County. The fire & ambulance department have 14 employees whom work 24 hours a day -7 days a week.

The civil division serves divorce papers, lawsuits, felony warrants, and child custody cases – which is different than the police department. They use the TCIC / NCIC database system.

The Texas Department of Corrections performs prisoner transports, but throughout the day, the NCSO allows the State to multi-task with the local inmates. Additional Court bailiffs were added last year. Now all three Judges (District, Court-At-Law, and County) have one full-time.

Courthouse security has no structured responsibilities. Workplace violence and attack upon law enforcement officers must be addressed.

The distance across Navarro County is 50 miles. Sheriff Tanner has 22 deputies to cover it 14 hours a day / 7 days a week. Recently, the NCSO patrol and correction divisions began 12-hour shifts. He desires the officers to buy-in to the program, but they cannot be targeted due to the uniform they wear. Not that people attack the officer personally, but the uniform he wears. It is harder to recruit a qualified 21 year kid anywhere, because of meager pay, on-call 24-7, and being targeted. Still, people desire to work in law enforcement. Sheriff Tanner said he was taught as a child to honor the uniform, respect the badge, and trust police officers. Now, because of the today’s culture, officers are targeted with a death sentence just because of the uniform that they wear. They must be taught how to properly arrest people.

During his four years, Navarro County Sheriff Elmer Tanner recalls memorable experiences:
1. Historic flooding twice on May 10 and October 23, 2015. There were 76 high water rescues. He is proud of individuals, volunteers, Emergency Management Coordinator Eric Meyers, and the Governor Greg Abbott. Only one person lost their life.
2. The Rice homicide / suicide discovered September 22, 2013, where five people were killed at once, which affects children.
3. The attack upon Dallas police and DART Officer Brent Thompson on July 7, 2016, about the same time when Chief Robert Johnson joined the Corsicana Police Department. “We pulled the community together,” said Tanner.
4. Deputy James Murray lost his life in an off-duty car accident on July 15, 2016.
What has changed at the NCSO?
• New uniforms. New attitude. Employees must buy into.
• Four years ago, there were 19 vacancies. The problem was salaries could not compete. When the NCSO certified them, the CPD, CISD, and Ennis PD took them away Sheriff Tanner worked with the County Commissions Court to re-structure salaries. They agreed to a training reimbursement for a Deputy recruit which includes a three-year commitment. Now, they are two people short of 135. In the past three weeks, the NCSO has lost a hundred years of experience due to retirements. Even when they have a full staff, they are still recruiting.
• They have completely replaced their patrol fleet of Ford Crown Victoria’s with Chevy Tahoe’s, for rural operations. No maintenance issues so far. They may cost more, but should run 7-8 years.
• The NCSO database was completely re-done. The RMS / JMS system is no longer supported. The maintenance cost was outrageously high. Now deputies have the capability to type-in a report in the field, which transfers to the office.

Sheriff Tanner does not know the future, but he is reminded that random acts of violence on the news, could happen in Navarro County. For example, the four-county crime spree (Brazos, Limestone, Freestone, Navarro), resulted in an arrest on I-45 occurring on January 3. The suspect stole the vehicle and pulled a gun. The NCSO tactical unit, created in 1998, is necessary, because it saves officer and civilian lives.

“In the last four years, every area of the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office has evolved to become better. This is no reflection upon other law enforcement agencies, and in respect to CPD Chief Johnson, I want to continue relationships to unify and support citizens,” said Sheriff Tanner.

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