The Amarillo Police Department (APD) continues a commitment to taking positive actions that make Amarillo safer and engaging with residents to improve feelings of safety. Part of the mission is to build trust between the police department and Amarillo residents, which is proven to reduce crime and the fear of crime. Here is a summary of major projects and events since October of 2019.
Downtown Neighborhood Police Officers (NPO)
Downtown Neighborhood Police Officers (NPO): Officers assigned to specific neighborhoods to build relationships and better understand neighborhood issues. In April 2020, the Downtown NPO office was opened, thanks to a generous donation by Happy State Bank. The bank provided space and remodeling in the Happy State Bank building. This office is staffed by two police officers who are tasked with maintaining safety in the downtown area and working to improve relationships and the quality of life for downtown businesses and residents.
Hamlet NPO Officer
In August of 2020, the Hamlet NPO office opened, thanks to a generous donation of space by the New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church at 3100 Angelus. This office will serve the Hamlet community in reducing crime, increasing the quality of life, and building trust between the police department and Hamlet residents.
In partnership with Texas Panhandle Centers (TPC), the Intercept Program pairs a mental health professional from TPC to ride with police officers from the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) as they engage with people whose mental health and substance use disorder needs result in contact with law enforcement. The Intercept Team responds to police calls for service and referrals from community partners. This team maintains a caseload of people needing help to navigate and manage their individual path to a healthy life. Intercept has the capacity to intervene directly or to coordinate the support services needed to avoid involuntary detentions, and promote warm hand-offs to community-based services. This includes but is not limited to psychiatric healthcare, physical healthcare, counseling, case management, substance use treatment, and other support services from a broad network of community partner providers.
The department acquired a BrassTRAX system that allows a technician to enter shell casings from guns into the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN). NIBIN can be compared to a fingerprint system for guns. The system went live in October of 2019. To date, there have been 339 leads (connections to other shootings) generated from the information entered via the Amarillo BrassTRAX system. Nineteen of those leads involve homicide cases both in Amarillo and in other agencies. A cold case homicide from 2019 was solved by one of these leads. Several other shooting cases have been linked via the NIBIN system and it continues to be a valuable new investigative tool.
OnCall Records Management System
In February 2020, the department transitioned to an upgraded, web-based records management system (RMS). The new RMS has greater functionality and gives the records manager more flexibility to create reports and retrieve data that is customized to the department and the City’s needs. Data from the previous RMS was migrated to the new system.
Overhaul and Audit of Property and Evidence Unit
In March of 2020, a complete overhaul of the Property and Evidence Unit was initiated after deficiencies were identified. The unit upgraded barcode technology to quickly identify evidence and disposed of several truckloads of property that was no longer needed. A random audit verified the location of evidence, and an audit is currently underway on all homicide and DNA evidence.
Police Annex and Parking Lot Improvement
This project was completed in January of 2020. The parking lot improvement project created secure parking for police cars and employees and streetscaping to meet downtown architectural standards. The annex building was remodeled to create space for officer equipment, evidentiary vehicle storage, and a crime scene processing bay. This project was part of Proposition 2 that voters approved in 2016 to enhance public safety.
new police officers
On August 7th, 22 police officers graduated from the Amarillo Police Academy and are currently in field training. There are 23 people who have been cleared to start another police academy in October.
7th Floor remodel
In August 2020, the previously vacant 7th floor of the police department opened up after an extensive remodeling project. This renovation created new office and meeting space and takes the pressure off of cramped offices on the 3rd and 6th floors. The 7th floor houses part of the Specialized Operations Division and the Crime Analysis Unit. This project was part of Proposition 2 that voters approved in 2016 to enhance public safety.
Police Fitness Facility
The fitness facility in the basement of the police building opened in November of 2019. A generous donation of $50,000 from Amarillo National Bank helped complete the facility with new workout equipment.
Shooting response team
In July, the Criminal Investigation Division was tasked with organizing a shooting response team to enhance the investigation of all shootings in Amarillo. The additional investigators will be on call and respond immediately to begin investigations when a person is shot. The team will work to exhaust all leads and determine the person(s) responsible regardless of whether the victim cooperates with the investigation. The goal is to reduce retaliatory shootings and gather substantial evidence for the prosecution of shooters.
New police chief
In February of 2020, Chief Ed Drain left APD to become the Police Chief for Plano, Texas. Price Robinson was brought in as the Interim Chief and served until May 22 when Martin Birkenfeld was selected as the new Police Chief. Chief Birkenfeld has made some minor modifications to the departmental organization. Chief Birkenfeld is committed to continuing the momentum to suppress violent crime in Amarillo and to reduce the occurrence of fatal traffic crashes. Chief Birkenfeld is actively examining departmental training, policy, and practice to address contemporary issues in law enforcement.