Prior to 1940 Irving did not have a paid police force. Just one man, Frank Pate, acted as Constable, City Marshal, and Night Watchman. The first paid patrolman in Irving was George Smith, who was paid by donations from businesses and citizens. “Uncle” George walked the city on foot from 1940 to 1947 when Irving’s boundaries were Britain Road, O’Connor Road, Sixth Street, and Lively Street. In 1942, the Irving Police Auxiliary was formed, and the City Council passed an ordinance granting a charter for these volunteers to become Irving’s first reserve officers.
In 1947, the responsibility of protecting the city was turned over to Joseph B. Reynolds. During his time as Chief the department purchased its first two-way radio equipped police car. W.J. Cooper took over in 1953. The department’s first motorcycle was purchased in 1954, and by 1957 twenty-one patrol officers were added to the force, as well as three more cars and an additional motorcycle. An officer’s salary was approximately $64 per week with no overtime allowed. Charles J. Wirasnik, Jr. became Chief in 1958, and the first school-crossing guards were hired. In 1961, the work week was cut to five days, and overtime pay was approved.
In 1965, the police department moved from the police building at Second & Jefferson to the new police/courts building on Irving Blvd. James Richard Colwell was Chief from 1967 to 1970 followed by Leonard McCarley, who was the first Irving officer to work his way from patrol to the helm of the department. Since 1940 the department had grown from one person to approximately 60 commissioned officers, and the city’s population had grown from 1,500 to more than 97,000.
1972 not only saw the addition of a second floor to the police building, it also saw the formation of the Irving Police Association and the department’s first specialized unit, the IPD Tactical Team, which consisted of six officers. In 1973, a federal grant allowed the department to purchase a connection to the National Crime Information Computer (NCIC), a microfilm center, a high frequency police radio and dispatch console. In 1974, the Explorer program began helping to introduce young men and women to the world of police work. The Irving Police Department’s Explorer post has a history of winning top awards and status at local, state, and national levels of competition.
In 1975, a color photo lab was installed so that officers could upgrade black and white mug shots to color photos. In 1977, for health reasons McCarley stepped down as Chief, and Assistant Chief James Johnson served as acting Chief until 1978 when Benny Newman took over as Chief of Police. During the fifteen years that Newman was chief, the department went through a tremendous amount of growth and change. The evolution of policing procedures, equipment, personnel, the need for specialized units, and professional training combined with the continued growth of the city necessitated the police department's bringing forth a new era of management and planning and the creation of many changes and additions.
In 1978, a portable stakeout unit reducing the response time was introduced. A new traffic safety program was initiated, Irving’s first K-9 Unit was established. That same year a six-step pay plan was implemented with an officer’s top monthly pay being $1,481 (Current top-out is $4,791/mo.). In 1979, call screen was implemented, and funding for a Legal Advisor position was approved. * In 1980, Irving Youth and Family Counseling Service was formed. * In 1982, the TX. D.O.T. Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) began. * 1985 brought about the formation of the Administrative Bureau Division, consisting of the Administrative & Planning Bureau and the Technical Services Bureau. That same year the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) law became effective, and an FLSA Clerk was hired. * In 1988, the Police/Fire Training Academy was dedicated. * 1989 marked a major change in the appearance of the Irving PD when the uniform was changed from tan and chocolate to dark (navy) blue * In 1991, the department’s Volunteer Program was established. * In 1992, the 127,000 sq. ft. Criminal Justice Center (CJC) opened at 305 N. O’Connor, and that same year saw the formation of the Irving Police Athletic League (IPAL).
On July 3, 1993, Tactical Officer Glenn Homs, a nine-year veteran, was killed in the line of duty. A drunk driver struck Officer Homs on westbound State Highway 114 east of Beltline Road. The driver was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison and was released in July 2003 after serving the full sentence. Also in 1993 Chief Newman retired, and Assistant Chief Leonard Carmack served as acting Chief of Police until early 1994 when Lowell Cannaday was hired to head the department, bringing with him many new ideas and approaches.
The department began a series of changes that not only continued to improve services, but also made advancements that virtually catapulted it into the forefront of many aspects of policing. In December of 1993, the department purchased a custom-built mobile Neighborhood Contact Center (NCC), and in January 1994 a Mobile Command Post (MCP) was purchased. These two pieces of equipment were purchased with seized drug money at a combined cost of $157,000.00. * In April 20, 1995, the I.P.A.L. building was dedicated, and in October the department’s Domestic Violence Unit was formed. That same year a bicycle unit was established to supplement patrol efforts, and subsequent years have continued to bring improvements, changes and additions to our department.
The department’s first “Citizens Police Academy” graduated in December, 1996, and has continued to be a successful undertaking through the years. The department currently conducts two academies per year in English and has added one per year in Spanish.
In February, 1995, with the need for an effective and consistent method of maintaining media contact and relations becoming apparent, a full-time Public Information Officer (PIO) was authorized and appointed by the chief to represent the department. The establishment of a single contact point for release and verification of information has improved the flow of information and quality of relations with the media in many respects and has involved interaction on local/state/national and international levels.
Our academy installed a computerized system which runs the live pistol range qualification courses on a computer program rather than manually. The department also implemented a new firearms qualification standard. Officers must now qualify with an 80 percentile twice a year, which surpasses the TCLEOSE mandated 70 percentile once a year. A Professional Range Instruction Simulator (PRISim) has also been installed. Purchased in 1999, this system is a judgmental skill training simulator. Officers use actual weapons with “Air-Munitions” and their hits are detected and recorded by the program. The various scenarios can branch in different directions, escalating or de-escalating, depending on the interactions of the officer. The system also has a “Shoot-Back” cannon, which is a computer-controlled system that fires nylon projectiles at the officer.
On Christmas Eve, 2000 tragedy once again struck our department when Officer Aubrey Hawkins answered a suspicious circumstance call at an Oshman’s Sporting Goods store. As he drove to the back of the location he was met by a hail of gunfire from numerous escaped convicts who had just robbed the store as they were loading up the stolen merchandise. The suspects would later be called the “Texas Seven” by the media and a manhunt for the killers was launched, the likes of which had never been seen before. Eventually six of the seven were captured and the seventh committed suicide when surrounded by law enforcement in Colorado. The six were brought back to Texas, were tried and each sentenced to death. At this time all are on Death Row awaiting their punishment.
A new emblem was designed for patrol vehicles and was submitted by a committee of officers. This change reflected the continuing efforts of the department and personnel to upgrade, modernize, and promote pride and professionalism.
Addition of specialized supervisors’ vehicles (Tahoe, sport utility vehicles): The additional equipment being carried by supervisors such as AR-15’s, extra ammo, body armor and helmets, less-than-lethal weapons etc required more storage space, and these specialized vehicles allow for that needed space. These vehicles also have F.L.I.R. (Forward Looking Infra-Red); some are hand-held units while some are mounted to the roof of the supervisor’s vehicle.
Patrol officers continue to utilize many “tools” to help them with their work. Some of the tools are new and innovative and some are “old standbys” with new/improved technology. For instance, officers' vehicles are equipped with items such as in-car video, high-visibility light bars with overhead “smart-siren” controls, Lo-Jack trackers, 800 MHz radio, lap-top computers transmitting on 800 MHz scrambled frequency, in-car cell phone, etc.
Creation of the Bomb Squad: An officer and a sergeant attended The FBI’s Hazardous Devices School in March, 2000, at the US Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. They were then able to obtain a 1993 ambulance that IFD was retiring and refurbished it into the Bomb Squad truck. City funds, government grants, and private corporation donations were used to purchase approximately $28,000 dollars in equipment to create the first Bomb Squad (Hazardous Device Response Unit). In the first year the unit had 20 calls for service. They had two actual devices, two hoax devices, and numerous suspicious packages. The unit has since received $60,000 dollars in grants to have full weapons of mass destruction capabilities. Explosive entry capabilities were added in 1999, enabling officers to breach doors and walls that were not accessible with traditional entry methods. The department also purchased a state-of-the-art remote control robot for the unit as well.
During 2001-2002 the traffic section, in preparation to begin replacing their Kawasakis, tested Harley Davidson and BMW motorcycles as possible replacements. The tests resulted in the department selecting the Harley Davidson. The Traffic Section took possession of the first Harley Davidson in 2002.
In 2001, the Traffic Section received a 2001 Ford F150 Pickup truck and scales for roadside inspections. The truck has also been configured to tow the Department’s SMART trailers. The department purchased three Speed Monitoring Awareness Radar Trailers. These SMART trailers are portable, self-contained speed display units containing a Kustom radar unit inside the locked trailer. The unit is towed to a site and left on the roadside to display speeds of oncoming vehicles on a highly visible LED display. The goal of the trailers is to promote voluntary speed compliance and educate the public. The trailers also have the “StatPak” Computer, which allows the user to gather traffic data that can later be downloaded to a personal computer for analysis.
Pro Laser III: The department also purchased eight of the new Pro Laser III infrared LIDAR systems. These hand-held LIDAR units are battery powered and measure both speed and distance. Having a 6000-foot range enables their use as both a speed enforcement tool and a measuring instrument at accident scenes.
In 2003, the Traffic Section implemented new standards for the motorcycle officers. Each officer must now pass a driving test with an 80 percentile twice a year, which surpasses the state mandated 70 percent once a year.
In 1997 a rebuild and upgrade of the well-known Safety Town in Lively Park was completed (Safety Town has been used for safety instruction to our city’s youth since 1972). The Youth Action Center program, created in the late 70’s with three officers, has evolved into the School Resource Officer program and there are currently authorized twenty officers, two sergeants, and a lieutenant to work in the schools and with the students.
In November, 1999, the Community Services Division expanded their resources with the addition of a “McGruff & His Cruiser” robot and a full size “McGruff” costume with an animated head. The $9000 McGruff robot is a fully animated “McGruff the Crime Dog” riding in a convertible car. McGruff moves, speaks, listens, plays music, and drives the car all by remote control. The McGruff costume is full-size and is worn by an officer. The head is fully animated and has a voice modulator to make the operator sound like McGruff. It also has a fan to cool the operator.
In February, 2000, a “Red-I-Fox” costume was added. This is a full-size costume worn by an officer. “Red-I-Fox” is the mascot used by the Tarrant County 911 system, (which includes Irving PD), to teach elementary age children about the 911 system. All of these costumes and the robot have been used with great success at safety fairs, exhibits, and parades throughout the city.
On January 27, 2000, the elementary education officers took possession of four “Amtrykes” from the Irving Chapter of AMBUCS. The Amtrykes enable disabled children to ride a tricycle and to participate in the learning experience at Safety Town. The Amtrykes are tricycles which can be propelled by foot or hand pedals or a combination of both.
The CSD purchased seven weapons display cases and three drug display cases. These cases were constructed with a sturdy aluminum case and foam backing that houses weapons or drugs seized from our property room. When the cases are opened these weapons or drugs are visible through a Plexiglass cover. These were purchased with money from seized narcotics funds and are available for any officer to check out as a teaching tool.
The Irving Family Advocacy Center opened in January, 2002, as a response to the needs of the families in our community. The Center brings together the Irving Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit, Family Counseling Services, Victim Services, Family Outreach, and the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, all focused on building stronger and healthier families in an offender-free environment. All of these services were brought together in a beautiful new building that was created to be as comfortable as it is functional. It houses three classrooms with full media centers, a kitchen, a food and clothing pantry for emergency assistance, showers, counseling/interview rooms, offices for all employees housed there, comfortable lobbies and a conference room.
Installation and implementation of the Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) program was completed in October 2004. The program automatically routes calls to the next available Dispatcher without waiting for someone to answer the phone. The dispatcher hears a tone, and the caller is there.
The jail began Live-Scan imaging of fingerprints in August, 2000, creating the ability to electronically send prints to DPS and FBI for instant reporting and search. It also assists in a quicker ID of suspects and is easier and cleaner than ink printing. Irving was the first jail in North Texas to go on-line with this system. An additional plus is that it stores all prints on a local database.
Digital photos: Tiburon’s imaging for public safety (TIPS) started in May, 2000, and provides a database that allows officers to pull up photos of all people booked into our jail and allows CID to put together photo lineups automatically by general parameter input.
May, 2000, also saw the implementation of a computerized book-in system, Corrections Management System (CMS). Prisoners booked into the jail are entered and the information is stored on computers. Also during 2003 the process of installing a new door control system was begun which allows touch screen operation of the jail/housing areas from Central Control. This also included an upgrade to our recording system making it totally digital improving video quality and making the recall/retrieval process much easier and more efficient.
An imaging system for reports has been implemented and is used to scan accident reports, that process makes it possible to access accident reports via computer and print them as well.
The property room was remodeled in 2002. Among other things, a wall was knocked down creating one large room out of two. A new Tactical Armory was built, and the drug counter was moved creating more office space. In the property storage area a moveable (rolling) storage system was installed allowing for a very efficient use of space and increasing existing capacity.
Other recent additions and improvements to enhance policing and enforcement efforts include, but are not limited to;
* The purchase of Tasers, associated training and deployment for use in use by patrol officers and specialized units of the department has been accomplished
* 12-hour shifts have been implemented and are being effectively utilized in patrol
* Manpower and equipment has been allocated to staff a full time DWI unit
* The department is in the process of enhancing security in and around the Criminal Justice Center through funding from the Department of Homeland Security
October, 2004, brought a new Chief to the department as Lowell Cannaday retired; Larry Boyd became the Chief of the Irving Police department after serving 22 years with the Arlington Police Department where he had worked his way through the ranks up to Assistant Chief. Prior to working with the Arlington force, Chief Boyd had started his law enforcement career at the Irving Police Department as a police officer.
The Irving Police Department has a current strength of over 340 commissioned law enforcement officers, a civilian staff of over 190, an authorized reserve police force of 50, and 66 civilian School Crossing Guards helping the city’s school age children safely to and from school. The City of Irving covers approximately 67.67 square miles and has a growing population estimated at more than 210,000 citizens. Our past hard work and planning continues to show positive results, and we stand poised to meet the future and its challenges head-on with a positive attitude and professionalism. Whatever challenges tomorrow might bring, the members of this department and the citizens of this community know they can count on each other to find the best solutions. As time goes on, the Department continues to make great strides in maintaining current successes and proactively establishing new goals.