Q&A: Police Chief Billy Grogan
Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan answers questions about a possible police department expansion, what he likes to do in his time off and the department's recognition in using social media.
You've asked for an expansion of the department over the next five years. In 2013 that's an additional sergeant and three officers for a crime-response team. Why is it important to add that team?
One of the most prevalent complaints we receive at the department is about traffic violations. We currently assign those complaints to the shift and officers target a particular complaint area in between answering their calls for service.
Because of call volume, we are not able to address some of these complaints in a timely manner. In addition, a Crime Response Team, if this unit is approved in our 2013 budget, can focus more time on a particular complaint area in order to change driver behavior which is the ultimate goal. We also need a ready group of officers we can deploy to problem areas including areas with spikes in crime as well as traffic accidents. This unit will use the D.D.A.C.T.S (Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety) model to target our problem areas.
Dunwoody has become locally famous for its social media. Facebook is strong. A Twitter event (where the department tweeted all of its calls one day) was well received as well as Dunwoody Dave. How does this social media touch help you connect with the community? Where do the ideas come from?
Our excellent use of social media has been recognized nationwide. We view our use of social media as a digital extension of community policing. We can’t be everywhere or attend every meeting in the community. However, we can post information of interest to our community and interact with them online. We have been able to connect with our community in a way that has been beneficial for the department and our citizens.
We are able to carry on a digital two-way conversation with members of our community each day. We have received complaints about issues in the community over our social media channels and addressed them quickly. A small number of people within the department handle most of the social media postings.
We brainstorm every so often to come up with ideas we think might be of interest to the community. We also follow many departments across the country and are able to see what works in their communities. Of course we look at how the community reacts to items we post to measure their interest in a particular topic or subject. We may have a couple of ideas we are going to roll out before the end of the year. Stay tuned!
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the department going into the next five years?
The biggest challenge facing our department has to be our need for additional resources and the high demands placed on our current staff. In addition, our area is frequently targeted by organized retail theft rings as well as groups of individuals who target our area for burglary and thefts. I believe this trend will continue to grow. We also seem to be seeing a growing number of fraud schemes in our area.
How do you relax on the weekend?
I love to read, play golf, tennis and spend time with my family. My wife and I love to walk and ride bicycles together. I always like to relax and watch a good movie as well.
What's a story you can tell us about starting a police department. If you had to wrap it up in a few sentences to a colleague?
It was almost April 1, 2009, and we had not received our custom badges we had ordered for each member of the department. We were very close to having to buy some generic badges to start with. Luckily, the badges arrived three days before our department went live!