Hutto, TX – May 13 begins National Police week, a week set aside to honor the sacrifice of police Officers and survivors. On this week, the City of Hutto reflects on a year of growth under the direction of its new Police Chief, Byron Frankland and Assistant Police Chief Paul Hall. A year after taking the reins, the current department looks little like it did the day Frankland was sworn in.
The City encourages all businesses to display blue painter’s tape across their windows and residents to light blue bulbs on exterior lights in honor of National Police Week as a visible sign of support to the police officers who serve at the Hutto Police Department.
A recent FBI report listed Hutto as the seventh safest city in Texas, but Chief Byron Frankland isn’t resting on his laurels. In the first year of Frankland’s tenure as police chief, the list of department accomplishments is impressive and unprecedented.
“Coming to Hutto I saw the potential for growth in the police department and in the City,” he said.
The police department responded to a record 30,500 calls for service, hired 10 new officers, sponsored a sex offender registration ordinance, updated police department policy and procedure manuals, and created an undercover narcotics unit as part of the new Street Crimes unit, along with other departmental and division changes. Officer Evan Fraley and K-9 officer Raisin joined the department as the inaugural members of Hutto’s first K-9 unit.
Frankland’s first move was to restructure the department in to three distinct divisions; administration, patrol and criminal investigation. “Chief Hall and I started laying the foundation, so as we grow in the future, we can add to the department under each division,” said Frankland.
One of the departments created was the crime scene investigation unit. “We didn’t have dedicated CSI unit,” he said, “we had officers who did the best they could. So we went out and recruited folks that have experience. Now we have three techs that are dedicated to evidence collection. They’re our subject matter experts and now our property crime clearance rate is 68 percent, a direct result of creating the CSI unit,” he said.
Recruiting and training, as well as internal affairs were placed under the administration division, and Frankland has bigger plans in the works. “We’d like to eventually have totally separate training and recruiting or hiring divisions, property and records management and dispatch, and we’ve got the building blocks for all those things now.”
The patrol division increased with new officers and new vehicles. The department replaced eight aging vehicles with newer leased vehicles, a move that saved the department money. A traffic safety until is coming on line in June, which will allow the patrol division officers to conduct commercial vehicle inspections, conduct accident reconstructions, and pursue interdiction work.
“Adding new officers has increased visibility in neighborhoods”, said Frankland, “and that’s reduced residential burglaries by 45 percent.”
“When I got here, I saw a lot of officers who were hungry to learn. They wanted the knowledge that would make them better police officers,” said Frankland. “So we changed up our training. Our officers get training to emphasize leadership and job knowledge.”
Planning for the future growth is a constant as the City Manger and Council take steps to bolster the economic diversity in the City. The City population is creeping towards 30,000 and shows no signs of slowing down.
“With everything that’s going on in Hutto, the new Co-Op District, Titan, they’re going to bring folks into the town for jobs, and so we’re laying groundwork so when that growth hits, we have units in place,” said Frankland.
Frankland doesn’t shy away from facing the financial cost extra training and officers incurs and credits strong support from City Hall as crucial to his success.
“The city manager is one hundred percent behind this department,” he said. “He knows that to draw business, you have to have a safe community, and he’s committed to public safety.”
“The mayor and City Council have also been incredibly supportive of the changes in the department and the direction the department is heading in,” said Odis Jones, Hutto City Manager. “We restructured our finances creating a streets and drainage program allowing more funds in the general revenue for police.”
“Instead of paying the private sector to repair our roads, having the streets and drainage program has allowed the city to self-perform and see savings in the general fund allowing us to add 8 new police officers to the Hutto Police Department,” said Mayor Pro-tem Tom Hines.
According to Frankland, “The Hutto Police Department is committed to what they do. Every days it’s all hands on deck and they step up to the challenges we face here everyday. The comradery and pride in the department is amazing.”
Looking to the next five years, Frankland is honest about the challenges that will come with the growth he sees on the horizon. Recruiting and hiring the right officers is part of those challenges, due to the number of surrounding cities with growing police departments.
Regardless of the challenges, Frankland’s pride in his department is clear. “If you want to come to work for a progressive, rapidly growing department and make a difference in someone’s life and your community,” he said, “come work for Hutto.”