BEDFORD, Texas — A North Texas police department is implementing what leaders are calling "public service officers" to better connect with the community and respond to lower-priority calls.
The Bedford Police Department put out a Facebook post on Tuesday, explaining why they are bringing on civilian employees to act as public service officers. These employees are already out in the community, acting as "another resource to assist our citizens," the department said.
Many of the responsibilities of these officers are "designed to promote better partnership with our community," while also supporting daily enforcement from the department's patrol division.
This is why the public service officers' primary role is to support the uniformed patrol officers by freeing up officers to focus efforts on the proactive aspects of their job—to identify and contact criminal behavior before it happens.
The officers will be armed with either an expandable baton or taser, according to Bedford Police Chief Jeff Williams.
The public service officers do not have arrest powers and have limited enforcement capabilities. These less lethal weapons will be used to protect themselves in situations where they "do not have an avenue to escape an assailant," Williams said.
These officers will be responding to non-in-progress, lower-priority calls for services such as thefts, parking violations, and criminal mischief. They will also help patrol officers with accidents as well as active crime scenes.
Bedford Police said they will also provide another visible law enforcement presence in the community as they will be driving in a marked Bedford Public Service Officer vehicle. The department said it believes the public service officers program will assist in reducing response times as well.
The hiring process for public service officers will be similar to all other police employees, Williams said. Candidates will submit an application through the city of Bedford Human Resources website.
Once this is completed, an initial interview will be conducted to ensure that a candidate does not have any automatic disqualifiers such as drug usage or a criminal history. If the candidate passes this portion, Williams said then a more in-depth background investigation will occur followed by an interview with a panel where they will assess their ability to function in the role and as part of the policing team.
Candidates will be required to complete a psychological and physical examination to ensure they are mentally and physically prepared to handle the demands of the position, according to Williams.
The Bedford Police Department has seven divisions that include:
- Animal Control Services
- Criminal Investigations
- Community Services
- Records and Property
- Training and Recruiting
- Uniformed Services