The last few months during the coronavirus pandemic have not been easy for most police departments, but Plano’s new police chief Ed Drain was just days on the job when the world quickly started changing.
“When I came on board on Feb. 24, this was not the transitions that I had anticipated, but it’s a pandemic. It’s everywhere,” Drain said. “If I have to go through a pandemic, Plano is very well prepared. This is probably the place to be to have to deal with it compared to some other places. You have a adjust and move on.”
In a changing world, Plano saw crime numbers change marginally.
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“Overall our violent crime is actually down a little bit for the year by about 3%. Our property crime is up, people are still breaking into cars and still stealing cars,” Drain said. “Our property crime is up about 2% or 3%.”
Drain also had to quickly adapt to a changing financial situation in Plano, the state and the country.
“I think, quite frankly, I am concerned. We have submitted our budget request to the council. We didn’t ask for anything. So, hopefully I don’t get anything cut. If I don’t lose anything, I’ll be grateful for that quite frankly,” Drain said. “So far, our city has held off on filling some positions, that has not applied to public safety so we can continue to hire both our sworn and our civilian employees and we are continuing to do that.”
While there is no hiring freeze in Plano for public safety, there is a natural waiting period.
“We hired our last group of sworn employees about two weeks ago, when we brought on around 12 employees. At that point we were down seven. I think we’ve had one retirement since then,” Drain said. “Our next academy doesn’t start until October, so between now and October – that number, seven or eight will double by that time, before we actually do our next round of hiring.”
The department has implemented changes to keep employees distanced and safe.
“Our patrol officers are no longer briefing around a table as you’ve probably seen on police shows,” Drain said. “They are just coming in single-file, grab their keys and they are headed out to the parking lot and getting in their cars and getting assignments from e-mail and over the radio.”
The department did deal with six COVID-19 infections. All but one have recovered and returned to work.
“Basically, we have one officer now who is doing fine. He’s at home,” Drain said.
Drain said visibility has been a key focus both on social media and on the streets.
“One of the advantages of school being out is we get to use our school resource officers now out on the streets,” Drain said. “We’re using those guys out now to increase our visibility.”
Looking toward the future, when the department is back to normal, Drain has plans he hopes to enact.
“We are going to try to do more engagement with our homeless. We’re looking at some changes on the mental health side on some initiatives,” Drain said.