By Emily Banks Wooten
An update on the Livingston Police Department was recently presented to the Livingston Rotary Club by Livingston Police Chief Matt Parrish and Lieutenant Marty Drake. Parrish has been in law enforcement for 30 years and this is Drake’s 25th year.
Parrish started by asking how many had seen on social media that Livingston is ranked the sixth worst place to live due to the crime rate. He explained that it is not factual at all but is contrived by companies that sell security alarm systems. He said they get the population of a town and then look for the number of crimes in that zip code.
“If you want to see the crime numbers for Livingston you can go to texasdps.com and look at the uniform crime report,” Parrish said.
Drake agreed. “Numbers–it’s however you want to twist it and skew it.
Livingston PD is presently three officers short, but they do have nine master peace officers, three advanced peace officers, two intermediate peace officers and five basic peace officers. As for the dispatch department, LPD has one master dispatcher, three advanced dispatchers and two basic dispatchers.
“We have an animal control officer, an evidence technician and a police chaplain from the military who has a degree in theology. His name’s Britton Shoellhorn and he’s a volunteer,” Drake said.
“A lot of things have changed since I started policing. Over the years technology has sky-rocketed. We’ve always kept up but we really upped our game technology-wise in the last year,” Drake said.
He said the department got a TTY machine which is text to talk for the hearing impaired. He said they’ve also added a language line with six different languages. He also talked about Rapid SOS, a program through which someone may dial 911 and the department can see where the call is coming from and track the individual. However, you have to dial 911 first, he emphasized. “If you’re in the city limits it would ping and we could find you,” he said, adding that it’s already helped them locate some people who became disoriented and got lost.
Drake also spoke about the homeless, informing the Rotarians that not all of those purporting to be homeless really are. He mentioned the woman that sits in front of McDonald’s and others at HEB and Lowe’s who actually have places to live.
“We patrol thoroughly for the homeless, give out pamphlets and try to find them help,” he said, adding that the department also has a program called Life Size which is a mental health evaluation.
Drake and Parrish also addressed an annual event in which their department participates and looks forward to. It’s called “Shop with a Cop.” They said the local Walmart raises money, along with some private donors, and the schools are consulted to determine which students should participate.
“The officers look forward to it every year,” Parrish said.
“Walmart raised $6,000 and we had 60 kids this past year and each one was given $100 to spend on anything they wanted,” Drake said. “We’d pair up and go through there and you’d have a kid that wanted to get a pair of socks for their dad or a cooking pan for their mom. One kid wanted a Christmas tree because their family didn’t have one.”
Both officers emphasized that this is a local program and not a corporate one and that Jonathan Montalvo, manager of the local Walmart, goes above and beyond to help this community.
“He stands there with his credit card as we check out and if it goes over $100, he swipes his card to make up the difference,” Drake said.
Parrish also talked about the fundraiser the department holds every year benefiting the Caran Coward scholarship, named for a former officer killed in the line of duty.
“Just last year we gave out seven scholarships for $2,000 apiece,” he said, emphasizing that it is the only fundraiser the Livingston Police Department does.