Partners in crime prevention: Community education officer devoted to police-resident relations
Over the past year, McKinney Police Officer Trent Davis has become increasingly recognizable to residents since he took up the duties of community education and crime awareness officer for the department after 22 years in law enforcement. His is the face residents see as a guest speaker at schools, clubs and civic groups. His investment in the safety of the community doesn’t stop there – his family also lives here, so he’s a big believer in the importance of police-community partnerships. Davis kicked off the Citizens Police Academy Thursday, which also happened to be his birthday.
Why did you become a police officer?
I didn’t really want to be a police officer growing up. My best friend did, though. He was always nudging me – “Come go with me, we’ll go to school together. We’ll go through our careers together.” I’m like yeah, I don’t know. So he told me, “Just go for a ride-along with one of my police officer friends.” So I go out and I go do a ride-along with the police officer, and then I was in. I was hooked from that point. Now I just bleed blue.
Was it the excitement of that ride-along?
Yes. We had quite a bit of activity for the small town that I was in (Emory, Texas). Just the excitement, the adrenaline rush that goes with being a police officer and the opportunity to have the chance to make a difference in the community at any time.
What do you do as education and awareness officer?
As community education officer, I am responsible for any kind of community outreach dealing with education and awareness, things like presentations for different things that we do in the police department like active shooter for civilians, we do internet safety for civilians. I also am in charge of the volunteer program, our Citizens on Patrol program. I’m responsible for the Citizens Police Academy as well. Anything like that – Coffee with Cops Program, all those types of programs – I kind of drive the bus for those programs.
So you get to have the fun interactions with residents.
I do. Fortunately, after 22 years of being a street officer – making arrests and things like that – I got the opportunity to do this position, and in the past little over a year I haven’t had to arrest anybody. The good news for me is instead of seeing people in crisis or they’ve been a victim or maybe they’re being arrested, I get to see them under normal circumstances.
Is there any one program you really enjoy the most?
We have a couple. I really enjoy the Citizens Police Academy.
It really does give the citizens the ability to come into our building, talk to us face to face, and they get to interact with officers in their special fields. Each night we’ll have a different topic.
Are residents surprised at how much they’re able to learn from the academy?
A lot of citizens go through it, and they love it. It’s 14 weeks long, so on the onset everybody struggles with the length of it, and by the end of it they’re always saying, “Wow, that was awesome, and it really didn’t seem like 14 weeks.” They can’t believe it’s already over. In the process, we gain friendships with the citizens that come in, and they gain friendships with each other. Some of them even go on to become volunteer support for the police.
What they really see is that the police officers in McKinney, we’re not robots – we’re humans with human emotions, and they also get to see hands-on some of the decision processes that we have to go through.
Do you miss being on the street?
Oh, absolutely. If you asked Chief Conley today if he missed working patrol, he’d probably say, “Yes, I miss working patrol.” The base genesis of police work, the core of police work, is the patrol officer. And if you really are a police officer at heart, that’s really what you enjoy. On the other hand, I really enjoy doing what I do, for sure.
What does it mean for you to serve alongside the brotherhood in the capacity that you do?
You speak to the brotherhood, and there’s nothing like it.
What I’m really finding out in this position over the past year, there is definitely that same feeling throughout our city. Reaching out to different parts of our city, there really is a really good bond with our community as a whole, and I feel like as much as I can do to reach out and strengthen that bond with the police department with our community is absolutely very, very important for police work. And I think we’re doing a really good job with that. Our community, for the most part, really loves us.