ROCKWALL, TX (July 6, 2022) Rockwall Police Department Chief Max Geron shared the following at last night’s Rockwall City Council meeting:
“It has been my great honor to serve the citizens of Rockwall as your Police Chief for the last 2 ½ years. I am honored and excited to accept a senior director position with a national policy institute focused on health and public safety. This is a wonderful opportunity that will allow me to have a broad, national impact of my chosen profession of policing.
Given some of the anonymous social media posts and remarks, I thought it important you hear directly from me, before I leave, in public about the state of the department. First thing, I have too much respect for Ms. Smith and Mr. Boyd, as well as you and council, to ever leave the police department in anything other than a good place.
I am proud of the work we have done during my tenure. We not only maintained staffing, we increased the number of sworn officers during a time when policing saw decreases and fierce competition for new officers. The Police Executive Research Forum reported in the Wall Street Journal just today that police resignations were 42.7% higher in 2021 than in 2019 – except in Rockwall where we went eight months without a resignation or retirement. This in spite of concerns expressed to council to the contrary, early in my tenure. In addition, we upped our investigative staffing to handle increased prosecutions and we are proposing additional increases in the upcoming budget year.
As part of our strategic plan, we grew the department overall and increased its analytical capabilities by adding a full-time crime analyst. We added technological capabilities and better equipped our officers in the field. We solicited officers’ input by, like few other departments do by forming focus groups to inform us on a host of issues important to all ranks, and especially our line-level officers. We have applied that same employee input into our scheduling and the move to acquire outer-vest carriers and other equipment.
We took significant steps to modernize this police department, improving on something good and making it better. We succeeded in our primary strategic priority by “Keeping Rockwall Safe,” and we did so not just with crime fighting: We increased training and reduced risk with smart and prudent policy changes. We restricted dangerous vehicle pursuits to only those crimes where the risk was commensurate with the danger of failing to act. Prior to the civil unrest of 2020, we moved the neck restraint to the category of “deadly force,” thus restricting its use to only those times when someone’s life was in danger. This preceded the nationwide call from the President of the United States for police departments to do just that in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
We made significant investments in our officers’ mental and physical wellbeing by screening for hidden signs of heart disease and providing private consultation with a trained physician and dietician. We also worked with HR Director Shawn Yerks and provided cost-free gym memberships (another employee recommendation). And we are currently making an investment in the physical brain health of our leadership by partnering with the Center for Brain Health that will pay dividends in the years to come.
We were one of the first departments in the entire nation to adopt and be recognized as an ABLE Certified agency, ABLE stands for Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement, embracing and strengthening the culture of intervention to protect and save officers’ careers and reduce the devastating cost of misconduct.
We changed tack on how we addressed 1st Amendment auditors by improving our training and understanding of what is and is not permitted relative to free speech and demonstrations. At the same time, we acquired equipment and training to address those demonstrations should they turn violent. And in the wake of our training, confrontations with 1st Amendment auditors virtually ceased, allowing our officers to perform their duties with less interference and accompanying stress.
I’m encouraged by our progress toward supplying our police and fire departments with a headquarters building that serves our growing community. The work is just beginning, but this exciting and ambitious project will improve our level of service and is desperately needed.
The last two years have been incredibly challenging for the profession of policing. The members of this police department have worked hard to not only serve and protect our residents, but also make an investment in the youth of our community. As a father with children in this city, I am encouraged by the relationships our SROs build with our children.
Our civilian professionals have done an outstanding job in support of our mission and I’m proud of their diligent work each day. Records and evidence retention are not flashy and glamorous, but the accuracy and professionalism required must exist for this police department to function for the people we serve, and we have those excellent professionals. I’m proud of our telecommunicators as we’ve worked to increase staffing and respond to not only increased calls but also requests for help from our partner agencies. Our telecommunicators are currently working with our partners at the County to be able to provide back-up dispatch capabilities should the need arise. Our detectives distinguish themselves every day with solid follow up and case filing, setting the example for others to follow. We maintain excellent relationships with our state and federal partners because of their cooperation and teamwork on task forces and through our collaboration on cases. Every work group has contributed to our success, and for that I am thankful.
I want to say thank you to all who work hard to protect this community and who do so with compassion and empathy.
My door was always open as the Chief, and I continue to be available to you as a resource and partner and a resident, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if the need arises. I wish each of you the very best, and challenge you to support and build on all we’ve started. Thank you for this great experience.”
Submitted press release by the City of Rockwall for publication in Blue Ribbon News.
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