The Mayor and City Council of Plano have gone through an extensive governance process to establish a mission statement -- "The purpose of the Plano City Government is to facilitate an outstanding quality of life for residents at a reasonable cost in taxes and fees" -- which details six ends statements and the means by which these ends statements will be met. The first ends statement, "a safe and secure environment for all," includes a means for a "low crime rate." One of the activities for achieving the means is to "increase community policing activities."
The Mayor and City Council have approved a school liaison program, which assigns a police officer to each of the high schools (grades nine and 10) and senior high schools (grades 11 and 12) to work with the students on areas of crime within the school, such as gangs, substance abuse, etc. Current cost for this program, including 12 officers and one sergeant, is $702,488, with the cost being shared equally between the city and the school district. Projected growth in Plano will result in the addition of seven officers, one sergeant, and one lieutenant in the coming year. Additionally, the police department fully funds two Drug Awareness Resistance Education officers, assigned full-time to the school district's elementary and secondary schools, at a cost of $95,000.
Also, the Mayor and Council have appointed a Youth Advisory Commission that reviews youth issues and advises the Council prior to its making decisions affecting youth. The group has been very effective for the Mayor and Council and has reviewed such issues as teen curfews.
Plano was the first city in Texas to establish a Youth Police Academy, which is structured the same as its Citizens Police Academy but with a focus on youth. This is an eight-week program to familiarize high school students with the Plano Police Department and provide another line of communication between officers and students. In 1991, Plano developed its Positive Alternatives for Youth Program to help keep our youth out of gangs. The Mayor and Council and the school district are partners in ventures designed to increase efficiency by sharing resources, such as joint purchasing and shared use of school and parks and recreation facilities.
In Plano, with its Council-Manager form of government, the Mayor and the Council work together as a team with the trustees of the Plano Independent School to combat the violence that destroys the school experience for so many students -- hence, the cooperative ventures in the school liaison program. By placing officers full-time in the high schools, the students establish trust relationships with those who enforce the law and thus, the opportunities for activities such as gang violence, drug abuse, theft, personal injury, and the like, diminishes greatly. Plano's drop-out rate is less than two percent.
Contact: Office of the Mayor, (214) 578-7107
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.