Note: Additional stories on the reports will be published later this week.
In an effort to provide transparency in its operations, the Sherman Police Department has released a series of reports outlining its actions in 2019.
The three investigations, which were conducted earlier this year, cover the topics of use of force, racial profiling along with a general annual report outlining department statistics.
"These reports directly reflect things that are either important to the either citizens or the organization as a whole," SPD Chief Zachary Flores said Monday.
"It is the department doing its due diligence to make sure we are keeping an eye on our business and doing what the citizens expect us to do instead of just blindly going out and doing our jobs," Flores added.
The reports are astep toward both accountability and transparency not only to members of the City Council and other city leader ship but also the community as a whole, he continued.
In an age where there is large-scale national reporting on the actions of other departments, these reports are a view specifically into SPD’s actions.
"It is something for them to look at instead of the general national media message," he said. "It allows them to look specifically at our police department, and look at what is going on with our department and validate that we are doing what we need to be doing."
Of the three reports, the racial profiling report is legally required and is conducted by an independent auditor. The other two reports are conducted in house and are not required.
These reports are a project that Flores said he initiated within the department about three years ago in an effort to provide the public more information about police activity.
"The annual report is just an overall glimpse at the department as a whole to provide information to the public, the council, city leadership and just give everyone a 30,000 foot snapshot of the department and again see what is going on," he said.
For 2019, the department saw the number of calls for service rise slightly from 38,174 in 2018 to 38,994 in 2019. Likewise, traffic stops also increased from 7,261 in 2018 to 9,665 in 2019.
The report also showed improvement in one one category that Flores said was a priority: response time. In 2018, the average response time for priority one calls was about 8.19 minutes. However, it dropped to just 6.23 minutes in 2019.
Flores said this was possible primarily due to high staffing within the department. Currently, the department staffs 68 of 70 allocated police officer positions.
"One of the things that affects that (response time) the most is manpower," Flores said. "We have adequate staffing where we are and we’ve been able to keep almost a fully staffed department, which is difficult to do."
K-9 searches also saw an increase in 2019 with 297 deployments, compared to the 40 times it was deployed in 2018. Likewise, K-9 narcotics searches increased over the same time period from 35 to 105 with more than 45 times when narcotics were found.
With regard to special investigations, the department saw significant shifts in the drugs that were seized. Methamphetamine seizures dropped from 145,721 grams in 2018 to 31,717 the next year. Heroin seizures increased over the same period from 126 grams to 15,232 grams.
Likewise, miscellaneous prescription drug seizures increased from 1,421 grams to 152,066 grams.
Flores attributed this primarily to federal investigations in which SPD often assists. Depending on the ongoing investigations, the drugs that are seized can vary greatly, he said.
"When the federal agencies have a case, they may be doing a case of someone who has Fentanyl and we may spend months working a case and seize a lot of fentanyl, drastically increasing that," he said.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.