By April Fultz
Crime-fighting priorities and methods are changing at Lewisville Police Department, and police are giving Facebook comments the credit for the changes.
Starting last week, Lewisville police began reading messages in city Facebook groups to determine residents’ top wishes for how to effectively police the city.
Initially ignored by most at the department, Facebook was only discovered when a new detective spread it around the office, mistaking it for a new and extremely detailed mugshot database. Soon after, the department discovered its own profile, and with it, all the incisive suggestions from residents about how to do their jobs.
“You would be surprised at the amount of knowledge that our residents have,” said Rhonda Hyde, one of LPD’s new social media analysts. “The tips we get usually involve something that residents have seen before on a TV crime drama.”
LPD Asst. Chief R. Dick Euless said the immediate changes related to fighting so-called “real crime.”
“For years, we’ve had this notion that we had to uphold the laws of the United States and the State of Texas,” Euless said.
“Turns out that citizens are tired of that, and want us to focus on their priorities.”
LPD’s traffic enforcement division is being disbanded, and its officers put on patrol duties.
“We’ve noticed more than one post lately where an individual was ticketed for a traffic violation, only to have several residents comment that police should focus on real crime instead of raising revenue for the city,” Euless said.
“We’re just going to stop writing tickets.”
“Good answer,” said Chad Achow, who is a frequent participant in online arguments about what the city should do. “There are robbers and murderers out there, and drug-dealing gangbangers shooting the place up, and there are murders every day at Budget Suites,” Achow said. “They shouldn’t be obsessed with whether or not I used a turn signal, just so they can power trip on me.”
Sam Squanch, a Flower Mound resident who drives through two Lewisville school zones on his way to work each morning, also applauded the move. “They just wait for you. It’s like a trap,” he said. “I only drive fast to avoid the gunfire. If I’m doing 40 instead of 20, that’s only half the chance of getting shot.”
Squanch estimates he’s paid tens of thousands of dollars in fines over the past decade for school zone infractions. “I always make sure they know that,” Squanch said. “When they pull me over, I remind them that I pay their salary, but for some reason they always ticket me anyway.”
Other residents expressed a desire for LPD to quit arresting people for possession of marijuana. Public opinion has dramatically shifted in recent years, with many states decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana sales. But Texas still enforces a law banning the substance.
“It was really causing us a lot of paperwork anyway,” Euless said of LPD’s efforts to enforce the drug law. “And once a case would go to court, it was hard to find a jury that would convict.
“Overwhelmingly, people have commented that police should focus on the [methamphetamine] crisis,” Euless said. Noting that comments about enforcement for methamphetamine use got 86% more likes than other drug enforcement proponent comments, Euless said he would put more officers on the streets to root out the problem.
LPD is getting help from residents who know exactly where the drugs are coming from. “It’s the Budget Suites, and those other shitholes,” said Maryann Malinger on the City of Lewisville Facebook group, shortly before those fascist group admins deleted her comment for profanity.
Other commenters suggested police visit trailer parks, low-rent apartment complexes and all the other poor areas, the places where all those people who don’t know any better live.
“If they didn’t want to be heavily policed, then they wouldn’t be poor,” Malinger suggested.
Others urged police to go after their neighbors, who seem to have a lot of cars in the driveway, and people coming and going a lot.
“We appreciate the suggestions,” Euless said. “We never would have thought to check those places.”
LPD has hired four new civilian employees just to scour the local social media and websites for tips and suggestions.
“The crowdsourcing of investigative techniques is working,” Hyde said. “For example, just last week there was a robbery at a local liquor store. Someone on Facebook suggested that police try to find surveillance cameras in the area and review the footage,” she said. Hyde said detectives hadn’t realized there might have been cameras present, and had been at a standstill on the case until she was able to relay that suggestion to the criminal investigation division.
Another Facebook reader suggested that police officers buy their own patrol cars. “Good idea,” Euless said.
Other suggestions have taken longer to implement. One of the most requested things online is for Lewisville to have more police officers.
“We’re doubling the force,” Euless said. Normally the process for hiring can take up to a year to select recruits, get them sent to academy, bring them back for local training, and get them on the streets. Keeping a full staff is tough due to shortage of officers across North Texas that has lead local agencies to poach each other’s candidates. Euless explained that instead, LPD would lower its standards to bring in more candidates who are willing to work for less and shorten the amount of training.
Euless said those interested in applying for Lewisville’s new four-week academy should visit icanberealcop.com. He also emphasized that Lewisville would be recruiting heavily by visiting local malls and encouraging their security officers to apply.
Voters will go to the polls in November to approve a 20-cent property tax increase to pay for all the new officers, a measure that is expected to pass easily.
“That should pass, no problem,” said Lewisville City Councilmember Juss Kidden. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Facebook, it’s that people always put their money where their mouths are — or in this case their keyboards,” he said.
Kidden said he was not worried about getting rid of traffic enforcement in the city. “All we have to do is just time the traffic lights right, and it should run smooth as butter,” he said. “According to the people of Facebook, the city just messes with the timing so they can bust people, so we’ll just make them stop doing that.”
Today is April 1, 2019. The story you have just read is 100% April Fools’ material, so put down the weed and watch your speed. We hope you enjoyed the story!