Denton Chief of Police Frank Dixon during a meeting with Denton Chamber of Commerce representatives on Wednesday talked about officers’ morale and the need for them to receive community support.
“Lift them up when you see them across the city,” he said. “I can’t say what a simple ‘thank you’ and simple wave does. And hold us accountable when we fall short.”
Host Erick Clark asked Dixon several questions regarding the state of the Denton Police Department, including the challenges it faces.
“We want to build on and build back our trust and legitimacy in the community,” Dixon said. “We’re trying to find a good balance … reminding our officers to hold their heads up, to never forget how fragile that trust is.”
Dixon was sworn in as police chief in October 2018 after spending more than 23 years with the Austin Police Department. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, has a master’s degree in criminal justice from Lamar University and is a graduate of the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute and the Major Cities Chiefs Association Police Executive Leadership Institute.
In his career in law enforcement, Dixon has worked homicides, gang and narcotics cases. He has overseen patrol and special operations and worked in internal affairs, as well as with K-9, SWAT and air support units.
Asked about fatigue, Dixon said that his officers “have undergone so much trauma” over the last year and a half.
“By the end of 2020, they were emotionally drained, running on fumes,” Dixon said. “They are still going through training. They still have to work and take precautions.”
The Denton Police Department employs about 183 officers. It is budgeted for 203 positions.
“It’s hard to stay up with that turnover because you’re always trying to hire for what you’re trying to get to,” Dixon said. “We have seen more diversity coming through the doors. We’re seeing more females coming in to apply. It’s really heartening to see a good amount of young people who want to serve the public.”
Dixon also said that the most concerning offenses in Denton involve gun crimes.
“We have practically gone out and targeted those areas and taken guns off the street … and, in the meantime, interrupted other criminal activity,” he said. “I think in January alone, we took six guns off the streets. The majority of [the offenses] lately have been stranger-on-stranger.”
In February, interim City Manager Sara Hensley appointed Dixon interim assistant city manager. He supervises the Denton Fire Department and EMS, tech services, safety, facilities and airport, risk management and real estate.