Police

Hands-free device ordinance to be enforced soon

Sign reads "Prohibited: Cell phone use hands-free only. Violators subject to fine."

Sign reads "Prohibited: Cell phone use hands-free only. Violators subject to fine."

By Officer Tristen Lopez, CSPD Public Information Officer

This week, more than 30 signs will be installed around College Station that label the city as having a hands-free ordinance in effect as it relates to drivers and their wireless communications device of choice.

The idea is that fewer distractions will result in fewer crashes, injuries and deaths.

The hands-free requirement applies to anyone using a cell phone while operating a vehicle or riding a bicycle on a public roadway in College Station, which includes typing, sending or reading texts, or making a call. Under the ordinance, even using GPS while driving requires the device to be attached to a mount.

You may pick up your device while driving only if:

  • You are at a complete stop.
  • It is an emergency.
  • You are selecting music on your device. (state requirement)

The ordinance was approved by the College Station City Council in late February and was set to be enforced in March, but the health and budgetary impacts of COVID-19 delayed the city from moving forward until now.

Once all signs have been installed, the College Station Police Department will allow a 30-day warning period before having the option of issuing citations for violators. Fine amounts range from $25-$500.

If a hands-free ordinance in College Station sounds familiar, you’re right: The city originally began enforcing a similar ordinance in January 2017, but by September of that same year, the state passed its own law that pre-empted some of the city’s provisions and led to the city council repealing ours.

Please don’t drive distracted — #JustDrive.

 


About the Blogger

Tristen Lopez is in his 11th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

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Police chief addresses CSPD’s policies, use of force 

By Billy Couch, College Station Police Chief

The national discussion about race relations and policing has touched every corner of our country, including College Station. It’s essential that we understand the perspectives of all members of our community.

As a department, the College Station Police Department has initiated open dialogue with local black leaders about productive ways to strengthen our community relationships. These open and transparent conversations are the foundation of how trust is established.

Accountability is essential, not just to the police profession, but for being accountable to the community we serve. CSPD’s mission is “To Protect and Serve with Excellence.”  The members of our organization are committed to that mission and strive to serve all with dignity and respect.

In recent weeks, we received several questions about the department’s policies and procedures regarding unbiased policing, body-worn cameras, professional standards, and the use of force.

Allow me to address each of those areas.

Unbiased Policing

CSPD thoroughly trains its personnel to avoid bias-based policing and discriminatory activities. Our officers focus on behavior and specific suspect information when we take police action. We won’t take action based on race (racial profiling), ethnic background, national origin, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, religion, economic status, age, or cultural group.

CSPD aggressively investigates instances of bias-based policing. Employees engaging in such conduct will be held accountable with appropriate disciplinary action, including termination.

Body-Worn Cameras

We have used body-worn cameras since 2014 and issue them to all sworn officers who routinely interact with the public. Along with in-car video and audio recorders, the cameras are essential law enforcement tools. These tools help with the effective prosecution of criminal cases and provide a layer of transparency for the daily activities of a police officer.

The cameras must be activated when it’s practical and safe during traffic stops, pursuits, person and vehicle searches, physical and verbal confrontations, use-of-force incidents, obtaining statements from victims and witnesses, the advising of Miranda rights, interrogations, and other legitimate law enforcement contacts.

Complaints

CSPD documents and investigates all complaints, regardless of whether the source comes from inside or outside the police department. That includes anonymous complaints. Our policy protects the community, our personnel, and the department while identifying and correcting inappropriate behavior or policy issues.

In cases where a pending offense is being considered by the courts, we refer those complainants with case-specific concerns to the appropriate court. If additional concerns exist outside of the offense the court is considering, we’ll investigate those concerns to reach a resolution.

If you are aware of a CSPD employee’s misconduct, we encourage you to file a complaint with the police department at any time:

  • Appear in person at the Police Department.
  • Call Internal Affairs at 979-764-3651 during business hours.
  • Call 979-764-3600 and ask to speak with a supervisor.
  • Email: iaunit@cstx.gov.
  • Mail: CSPD Internal Affairs, P.O. Box 9960, College Station, TX 77842.

Complaints are thoroughly explored by an assigned investigator, reviewed by the chain of command, and then sent to a chief for final disposition. When the investigation is complete, we notify the complainant. If necessary, and depending on the circumstances, we discipline the officer or provide additional training.

For more information, go to cstx.gov/police. Compliments and Complaints pamphlets are available in the department lobby and College Station City Hall.

Recruiting and Training

CSPD seeks to recruit and hire good people who possess a servant’s heart and dedicate themselves to continuous improvement. We want our personnel to serve with compassion, respect, and kindness. We are fully committed to character-based hiring and enlisting employees who will adhere to the highest level of professional service and standards.

Our organization strives to mirror the diversity of our city demographics. The police department is underrepresented by minority employees, and we don’t reflect the demographics we want to achieve. In spite of targeted recruiting efforts, we fall short.

We implore our citizens to encourage minority citizens to consider the police department as viable career choice. We ask that they inspire our youth to learn more about policing and consider it a noble profession where serving others can be a fulfilling career.

Our meticulous hiring process includes a rigorous exam, physical test, extensive board interviews, thorough background investigation, polygraph exam, psychological evaluation, and an interview with a chief. When the process is complete, new officers attend a basic, 17-week police academy.

After graduation, officers participate in a field training program. We pair them with field training officers who have been selected and trained to ensure they pass on the appropriate practices and principles. The new officers then endure an additional 20 weeks of field training and first-hand observation.

We emphasize providing state-of-the-art training with a focus on de-escalation techniques and crisis intervention. Our overriding policy is to respect and value human life.

Use of Force

Each year, we average about 100,000 citizen contacts. Those contact lead to the use force about 100 times.

An officer’s determination for using force and the level of force used is based upon the officer’s evaluation of the situation in light of the totality of the circumstances known to the officer at the time the force is applied. The determination is based upon what a reasonably prudent officer would use under the same or similar situations, rather than the perfect vision of hindsight.

Due to the consequential nature of using any degree of force — including deadly force — our officers receive annual training on our Use of Force Policy and the authority to use force under the Texas Penal Code. Employees receive legal updates on the use of force as changes occur.

Periodically, we provide additional training to reinforce the importance of effective communication, de-escalation and to strengthen our use of proper techniques.

Some residents have asked us about specific use-of-force policy recommendations, as presented by 8cantwait.org. Here’s how CSPD policies specifically apply to those eight proposals:

1. Require officers to report unnecessary force used by fellow police officers.

CSPD employees who know about a potential violation of the law, regulation, or policy are required to report it through their chain of command, the city’s human resources director, or our ethics hotline (877-874-8416) or cstx.alertline.com. They must also immediately notify their supervisor of any on-duty injury.

The policy further requires personnel to report uses of force in our Internal Affairs (I.A.) system. Each incident is individually reviewed for policy compliance by the supervisory chain of command — and by I.A., if necessary.  Employees must answer all questions related to the matter. Lying, omitting crucial details, or refusing to cooperate with an I.A. investigation ultimately could be grounds for termination.

2. Restrict higher levels of force to be used only in extreme situations.

CSPD requires the use of de-escalation techniques and other alternatives when possible, safe, and appropriate before using force or using higher levels of force. When de-escalation techniques are not effective or appropriate, officers will employ less-lethal force to control a non-compliant or actively resistant person.

An officer is authorized to use approved less-lethal force techniques and department-issued equipment to protect the officer or others from immediate physical harm, to restrain or subdue someone resisting or evading arrest, or to bring an unlawful situation safely and effectively under control. Officers may use deadly force when it is objectively reasonable under the totality of the circumstances. Use of deadly force is justified in defense of human life — including the officer’s life — from what is reasonably believed to be an immediate threat of death or serious injury.

Officers may also use such force to prevent a subject from fleeing when they committed — or intend to commit — a felony involving serious injury or death. The officer must reasonably believe there is an immediate risk of serious bodily injury or death to the officer or others if the subject is not immediately apprehended.

3. Ban shooting at moving vehicles.

CSPD policy prohibits shooting at a moving vehicle unless a person in the vehicle is threatening the officer or someone else with deadly force by means other than the vehicle, or the vehicle is operated in a manner deliberately intended to strike an officer or another person.  Other reasonable defenses will first be used, such as getting out of the vehicle’s path.

4. Require officers to intervene to stop another officer from using excessive force.

Any force our officers use must be objectively reasonable and necessary to effectively accomplish lawful objectives while protecting the public and our officers’ lives. Officers will always try to minimize pain and injury that may result from the use of force.

While on duty, they will assist citizens as needed when it doesn’t conflict with law enforcement principles or violate laws or department policies.

5. Force officers to exhaust all other reasonable alternatives before using deadly force.

Officers should consider force-mitigating circumstances when dealing with someone who is injured or receiving medical care. That may include the level and immediacy of the threat or danger, the person’s ability to carry it out, and alternative methods of force. Deadly force shouldn’t be used against those whose actions threaten only themselves or property.

6. Require officers to give a verbal warning before shooting.

When it is safe and practical, our officers are trained to provide warnings before using force. Before taking action, officers will identify themselves by displaying their badge and identification card — unless it’s impractical or when their identity is apparent.

7. Require officers to de-escalate situations before they turn extreme or deadly.

CSPD requires the use of de-escalation techniques and other alternatives when possible, safe, and appropriate before resorting to higher levels of force. Whenever possible, officers will allow individuals time and opportunity to comply with verbal commands unless a delay compromises safety or could result in evidence destruction, the suspect’s escape, or the commission of a crime.

8. Ban chokeholds and strangleholds.

CSPD policies and practices prohibit neck restraints, Lateral Vascular Neck Restraints (LVNR), or similar weaponless control techniques that can cause serious injury or death. LVNR is a choke, sleeper, or other hold intended to disrupt the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, which can lead to a temporary unconsciousness.

Final Thoughts

As always, the College Station Police Department deeply appreciates your support and will never take it for granted.

As a nationally accredited law enforcement agency for almost 30 years, we adhere to the best practices and highest standards in our industry. That means we continually review our policies and practices to ensure our officers conduct themselves with the highest level of professionalism and integrity.

We are entirely and unequivocally committed to protecting, serving, and proactively engaging with everyone in our community. If you see ways we can do better, please let me know.

I’m always ready to listen and learn.

 


About the Blogger

A 23-year veteran of the College Station Police Department, Billy Couch was named police chief in May after seven years as an assistant chief. He previously served as a patrol lieutenant, patrol/traffic sergeant, SWAT team member, narcotics investigator, and patrol officer. Couch earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M, a master’s from Sam Houston State, and graduated from the FBI’s National Academy.


 

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Don’t let drunken driving ruin your Super Bowl

By Jason Summers, CSPD Officer

For football fans, Super Bowl Sunday is the most anticipated day of the year. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous days for motorists.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, about 31 percent of traffic fatalities on a typical day involves a drunk driver. On Super Bowl Sunday, that awful number spikes to 43 percent.

The College Station Police Department will deploy extra officers in the peak hours before, during, and after Sunday’s game to proactively identify and apprehend drivers who are a danger.

If you see someone driving erratically, note the vehicle description, take down the license plate number, and call 911. Don’t try to stop the vehicle.

Enjoy the game and the fun festivities that surround it, but be the day’s most valuable player by drinking in moderation and designating a driver. Don’t let anyone else drive drunk, either.

We’re all on the same team when it comes to preventing drunken driving.

 


About the Blogger

Officer Jason Summers is completing his 16th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

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Pedestrian safety is a responsibility we share

By Officer Tristen Lopez, CSPD Public Information Officer

As College Station’s streets have become increasingly congested, crashes involving pedestrians and motor vehicles have resulted in scores of injuries and several tragic fatalities. It’s an all-too-familiar scene, not just here, but across the country.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian fatalities have surged by 46 percent since 2009. While other types of traffic fatalities declined, the national pedestrian death toll spiked to around 6,000 in from 2016-2018 — the highest levels in almost 30 years. Our state suffered the third most pedestrian deaths in the nation in 2018.

In College Station, the number of vehicle crashes involving pedestrians has tripled since 2010, when we only had 14. From 2010-2013, we averaged about 19 pedestrian crashes per year, but from 2014-18 that average skyrocketed to just over 35. We’ve already had 20 such crashes in 2019, as well as our 11th pedestrian fatality since 2010.

Since 2010, College Station has had 273 vehicle crashes with pedestrians. Relatively few have occurred on the Texas A&M campus, with the vast majority happening on nearby city streets.

Nationally, more than 75 percent of pedestrian crashes happen at night, with most occurring on city streets and frontage roads. Only about 18 percent happen at intersections, which means people are crossing busy streets at other points without using designated crosswalks.

The pedestrian-related crashes we see in College Station are typically caused by failure to yield, distractions, speeding, population growth, and alcohol and drugs.

1. Failure to Yield

The most common cause of pedestrian crashes in College Station is a failure to yield by either the motorist or the pedestrian. On the A&M campus, vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at all times. Off-campus, vehicles must yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or one close enough to the road to be in danger.

Cars or trucks emerging from an alley, building, private road, or driveway must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians approaching on a sidewalk.

Pedestrians have a responsibility, too. They can’t suddenly leave the curb and enter a crosswalk in the path of a moving vehicle that’s unable to yield. Pedestrians must also yield the right-of-way when crossing outside of a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

At an intersection with a traffic control device, pedestrians may only cross between two adjacent intersections in a marked crosswalk and may only cross an intersection diagonally if authorized by a control device.

2. Population Growth

College Station has added about 30,000 residents since 2010. That means we have thousands of more cars — and pedestrians — on our roadways. The rapid growth is expected to continue.

3. Distractions

Distracted driving is a well-documented problem, but distracted walking can be just as hazardous. The likely source of these distractions? Smartphones, of course. The number of smartphone users in the United States skyrocketed from about 62.6 million in 2010 to an estimated 266 million this year.

We see an increasing number of oblivious pedestrians with their eyes glued to their cell phones, some multiplying the danger by using headphones or earbuds. These types of distractions may be the most significant factor behind the recent rise in pedestrian crashes.

4. Alcohol and Drugs

We can never underestimate the impact of alcohol and illicit drugs. Alcohol and drugs impair judgment, decision-making, and reaction time. Most people recognize that it’s dangerous to drink and drive, but walking while drunk can be equally risky. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that a third of pedestrian fatalities involve a walker whose blood alcohol level exceeds the legal driving limit.

6. Speeding

A recent study by the American Automobile Association shows the risk to pedestrians climbs substantially when vehicle speed rises by even a small amount. About half of pedestrians die when the vehicle is going 42 mph, three-quarters perish when the car or truck is traveling 50 mph, and 90 percent die when vehicles reach 58 mph.

Now that we have a good understanding of what can cause pedestrian crashes, how do we prevent them? Here are some excellent tips for pedestrians and drivers alike, courtesy of the NHTSA:


PEDESTRIANS


  • Be predictable.
  • Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  • Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. That’s where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • Look for cars in all directions – including those turning left or right.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
  • Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure they see you.
  • Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and judgment.

DRIVERS


  • Look out for pedestrians everywhere at all times.
  • Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back to allow other motorists to see the crossing pedestrians, too.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street.
  • Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present.
  • Be extra cautious when backing up – pedestrians can move into your path.

Pedestrian safety is a responsibility shared by drivers and walkers. By making wise decisions and paying attention, we can significantly reduce the number of pedestrian-vehicle crashes on our streets.

 


About the Blogger

Tristen Lopez is in his 10th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!

 


How to thwart crime and stay safe this school year

By Officer Tristen C. Lopez, College Station Police Department

With classes starting at Texas A&M and Blinn College next week, it’s an ideal time to review some common sense ways for students to stay safe and avert crime.

Secure your property

Regardless of the location of your neighborhood or apartment complex, never leave your keys in your car — or even a nearby car — and make sure always to lock your car doors. If possible, don’t leave valuables — especially guns — in your car. If that’s not an option, hide them.

More than 90% of car burglaries don’t involve forced entry. Be sure you always lock the doors to your residence, too.

Did you just buy a brand-new 80-inch television to enjoy Aggie football games? Don’t leave the box by your curb to advertise your shiny new possession to anyone who drives past. Break up the box and put it in your trash container or a bag, or at least put it out the morning of your scheduled bulk trash pick-up.

Buzzed driving = drunken driving

About every 20 minutes in Texas, someone is hurt or killed in a crash involving alcohol. You already know that .08% blood-alcohol content is the legal limit in Texas, but you’re also intoxicated if you feel the effects of alcohol or drugs, including marijuana.

An arrest for driving while intoxicated can cost you a whopping $17,000, so always designate a driver, call a taxi or ride-hailing service (Uber/Lyft), or use Carpool.

Party and study drugs

You risk arrest for driving under the influence of any drug or substance, not just alcohol.

Marijuana use remains illegal in Texas. It will get you arrested and is a felony if you have more than four ounces. That also goes for possession of marijuana concentrates such as THC oil, hash, wax, or shatter.

Obviously, you should avoid all illegal drugs and take appropriate precautions with prescription drugs. If you share prescribed drugs or take those that are meant for someone else, you’re breaking the law.

Minors and alcohol

You must be at least 21 years old to drink alcohol in Texas legally, and we strictly enforce the law in College Station. If you’re under 21, the easiest way to get caught is to possess alcohol at Northgate, a tailgate, or at a loud neighborhood or apartment party.

Getting a fake ID isn’t worth it, either. You risk getting a costly ticket or even an arrest for possessing a fake or altered ID, or one that isn’t yours. Lying to a police officer about your name or date of birth, or running away, typically results in an automatic arrest. Don’t turn a ticket into an arrest!

Whether you are of legal age or not, don’t supply alcohol to minors. You risk arrest if you allow your under-21 friends even to take a sip of your alcoholic beverage.

Disorderly conduct

An unreasonable level of noise (more than 85 decibels on public property, or when someone complains about it) usually results in a ticket. That means you need to stay in control of your parties.

Fighting usually results in a misdemeanor arrest, and public urination is illegal under city ordinance.

Hazing

Hazing is against most colleges’ codes of conduct — and it’s illegal.

Hazing is any intentional, knowing, or reckless act, occurring on or off the campus that endangers a student’s mental or physical health or safety as part of membership in an organization.

Hazing includes any activity involving consumption of a food, liquid, alcoholic beverage, liquor, drug, or other substance that subjects the student to an unreasonable risk of harm or that adversely affects the student’s mental or physical health or safety.

Part of college life is enjoying yourself and having fun with your friends. The best way to do that is to take proper precautions and avoiding unnecessary risks.

Here’s to a great school year!

 


About the Blogger

Tristen Lopez is in his 10th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!

 


Don’t let drunken driving ruin your Super Bowl

By Jason Summers, CSPD Officer

For football fans, Super Bowl Sunday is the most anticipated day of the year. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous days for motorists.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, about 31 percent of traffic fatalities on a typical day involve a drunk driver. On Super Bowl Sunday, that awful number spikes to 43 percent.

The College Station Police Department will deploy extra officers in the peak hours before, during and after Sunday’s game to proactively identify and apprehend drivers who are a danger. (more…)


National Night Out helps build stronger neighborhoods

Sgt. Roy Shelton, CSPD Community Enhancement Unit

The best thing about National Night Out is just seeing neighbors having open discussions about the things that affect their neighborhoods – and what they can do to make those neighborhoods better. As a witness to many National Night Out celebrations through the years, I can attest to the collaborative spirit these events produce.

The cities of College Station and Bryan will observe the 35th National Night Out on Tuesday, Oct. 2, with numerous block parties and celebrations designed to bring residents and local law enforcement together. College Station police officers will answer questions and provide insight and information about crime prevention and ways to build safer neighborhoods. Residents will also likely cross paths with the mayor, city council members, and city managers.

In College Station, at least 40 neighborhoods participate each year, forging strong relationships and discovering the power of unified neighborhoods. With National Night Out as a starting point, neighbors begin talking more frequently about concerns and issues and work together to resolve those problems.

These neighborhood groups often evolve into an active neighborhood organization that develops a real sense of community.

I hope the synergy created by National Night Out continues to inspire our neighborhoods to get and remain organized, and to stay active long after the celebration is over.

For more information, call 979-764-6234 or email rshelton@cstx.gov.

 


About the Blogger

Sgt. Roy Shelton is in his 17th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

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Pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility

By Lt. Craig Anderson, College Station Police Department

As College Station’s streets have become increasingly congested, accidents involving pedestrians and motor vehicles have resulted in scores of injuries and several tragic fatalities. It’s a scene becoming all-too-familiar, not just here, but across the country.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedestrian fatalities have surged by 46 percent since 2009. While other types of traffic fatalities declined, the national pedestrian death toll spiked to almost 6,000 in both 2016 and 2017 — the highest levels in more than a quarter-century. Our state suffered the third most pedestrian deaths in the nation last year.

In College Station, the number of vehicle accidents involving pedestrians has more than tripled since 2010, when we only had 14. From 2010-2013, we averaged about 19 pedestrian accidents per year, but from 2014-17 that average skyrocketed to almost 35. We’ve already had 21 such accidents in 2018, as well as our ninth pedestrian fatality since 2010.

From 2010-17, College Station had 232 vehicle crashes with pedestrians. Although only 17 occurred on the Texas A&M campus, the vast majority happened on nearby city streets.

Nationally, more than 75 percent of pedestrian accidents happen at night, with most occurring on city streets and frontage roads. Only about 18 percent happen at intersections, which means people are trying to cross busy streets at other points without using designated crosswalks.

The pedestrian-related accidents we see in College Station are typically caused by failure to yield, distractions, speeding, population growth, and alcohol and drugs.

1. Failure to Yield

The most common cause of pedestrian accidents in College Station is a failure to yield by either the motorist or the pedestrian. On the A&M campus, vehicles must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at all times. Off-campus, vehicles must yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or one close enough to the road to be in danger.

Cars or trucks emerging from an alley, building, private road, or driveway must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians approaching on a sidewalk.

Pedestrians have a responsibility, too. They can’t suddenly leave the curb and enter a crosswalk in the path of a moving vehicle that’s unable to yield. Pedestrians must also yield the right-of-way when crossing outside of a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

At an intersection with a traffic control device, pedestrians may only cross between two adjacent intersections in a marked crosswalk and may only cross an intersection diagonally if authorized by a control device.

2. Population Growth

College Station has added about 25,000 residents since 2010. That means we have thousands more cars – and pedestrians — on our roadways. The rapid growth is expected to continue.

3. Distractions

Distracted driving is a well-documented problem, but distracted walking can be just as hazardous. The likely source of these distractions? Smartphones, of course. The number of smartphone users in the United States skyrocketed from about 62.6 million in 2010 to an estimated 237.6 million this year.

We see an increasing number of oblivious pedestrians with their eyes glued to their cell phones, some multiplying the danger by using headphones or earbuds. These types of distractions may be the most significant factor behind the recent rise in pedestrian accidents.

4. Alcohol and Drugs

The impact of alcohol and illicit drugs can never be underestimated. Alcohol and drugs impair judgment, decision-making, and reaction time. Most people recognize that it’s dangerous to drink and drive, but walking while drunk can be equally risky. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that a third of pedestrian fatalities involve a walker whose blood alcohol level exceeds the legal driving limit.

5. Speeding

A recent study by the American Automobile Association showed the risk of pedestrians being involved in a crash climbs substantially when vehicle speed rises by even a small amount. About half of pedestrians die when the vehicle is going 42 mph, three-quarters perish when the car or truck is traveling 50 mph, and 90 percent die when vehicles reach 58 mph.

Now that we have a good understanding of what can cause pedestrian accidents, how do we prevent them? Here are some excellent tips for pedestrians and drivers alike, courtesy of the NHTSA:


PEDESTRIANS


  • Be predictable.
  • Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  • Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes and ears off the road.
  • Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections whenever possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • Look for cars in all directions – including those turning left or right.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
  • Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.
  • Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your abilities and judgment.

DRIVERS


  • Look out for pedestrians everywhere at all times.
  • Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop, too.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street.
  • Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present.
  • Be extra cautious when backing up – pedestrians can move into your path.

Pedestrian safety is a responsibility shared by drivers and walkers. By making good decisions and paying attention, we can significantly reduce the number of pedestrian accidents on our streets.

 


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 31st year with the College Station Police Department. Before becoming a police officer, Craig served four years in the U.S. Navy. 


 

 

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Drunk driving myths, precautions, and red flags

This post is the sixth and final one in a series about keeping your family and possessions safe this holiday season.

By Lt. Craig Anderson, CSPD Public Information Officer

Fatal road accidents tend to hit their annual peak between midnight and 5 a.m. on New Year’s Day. What a potentially horrific way to bring in a new year.

The most troubling thing is that we could avoid many of these accidents if motorists – and those around them – recognized the red flags and took preventive action.

Persistent Myths

Stubborn myths about alcohol and its effect on the body contribute significantly to the problem. Let’s start by dispelling three of those dangerous misconceptions:

MYTH 1: If you’ve had too much to drink, coffee will sober you up.

Fact: Only time can make you sober again. It takes your body about two hours to break down the alcohol after consuming one pint of beer. It takes about one hour to break down a small, five-ounce glass of wine.

MYTH 2: Hard liquor is more intoxicating than beer or wine.

Fact: A 12-ounce can of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, and a 12-ounce wine cooler contain the same amount of alcohol and the same intoxication potential as 1½ ounces of hard liquor.

MYTH 3: Someone who has drunk too much looks intoxicated.

Fact: A person’s physical appearance can be misleading. A single drink can impair someone’s ability to drive. When someone drinks, the first thing affected is their judgment. Important motor skills are next.

Hosting a party?

If you plan to host a New Year’s Eve party, we recommend taking some common-sense steps to curb excessive drinking and to help your designated drivers stay sober.

Drinking isn’t mandatory for having a good time, so don’t force alcohol on your guests. Offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers and others who prefer not to consume alcohol. Carbonation encourages the bloodstream to absorb alcohol faster, so use non-carbonated bases such as fruit juice for alcohol-laced punches.

It’s also a good idea to avoid serving too many salty snacks, which tend to make people thirsty and want to drink more.

Before your party begins, ask your guests to appoint one or more designated drivers, who should agree to drink only non-alcoholic beverages. If certain guests are known to drink in excess, inform them that drinking and driving are unacceptable at your party.

Don’t let guests mix their drinks. Choosing a reliable bartender will help you keep track of the size and number of drinks your guests consume. Don’t allow anyone under the legal drinking age to consume or serve alcohol, either.

About 90 minutes before your party is scheduled to end, close the bar and serve dessert treats with coffee. But remember: time alone sobers up those who have been drinking.

Drunk driver warning signs

If you witness any of these driver behaviors, note the license plate number and vehicle description and report it to the proper authorities. DO NOT attempt to stop the driver on your own:

  • Wide turns.
  • Straddling lanes or driving on the centerline.
  • Drifting or moving in a straight line at a slight angle to the roadway.
  • Driving with the headlights off at night.
  • The driver shows signs of being drunk such as eye fixation or face close to the windshield.
  • You see a driver drinking.
  • Driving below the speed limit, erratic braking, or stopping without cause.
  • A slow response to traffic signals, including sudden stops or delayed starts.
  • Nearly striking objects or curbs.
  • Weaving or zigzagging across the road.
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road or completely off the roadway.
  • Rapid acceleration or deceleration.

The College Station Police Department will be actively enforcing alcohol-related offenses throughout the holiday season and especially on New Year’s Eve.

We wish you a safe and happy new year!


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 30th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

 

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Holiday Safety:  Watch out for pets in your merry festivities

This post is the fifth in a series about keeping your family and possessions safe this holiday season.

By Lt. Craig Anderson, CSPD Public Information Officer

A lot of people consider their pets to be valued members of their families. It’s especially important to treat them that way during the holidays.

Many of the fun and beautiful things we enjoy about Christmas can create hazards for your pets. The College Station Police Department’s Animal Control Division offers these basic tips to keep your beloved pet safe and sound amid all the joy and fun:

Holiday hazards

Hang breakables, tinsel, and other tempting decorations well out of paw’s reach. Tinsel, ribbon, and ornaments are especially dangerous to pets if chewed or swallowed, and electrical cords are even worse. Gnawing pets often try to chew the cords, which could lead to severe injuries or even death. Make sure your light strand, loose wires, and extension cords are out of reach.

It’s also wise to place your decorative holiday plants and candles clear of your pet’s reach. Some seasonal plants – such as mistletoe, holly berries, and poinsettias – are poisonous, and pets and candles just don’t mix. You should also keep your pets away from holiday treats, especially chocolate. Theobromine and caffeine, ingredients found in chocolate, are toxins and can be fatal to some animals.

Christmas trees

A Christmas tree should stand on a flat, broad base. You may also consider anchoring the tree with fishing line tied to a ceiling or wall hook since curious cats often see trees as climbing posts. Needles from both live and artificial trees are indigestible and can cause illness. Don’t tempt your pet with edible ornaments, either.

If you have a live tree, be aware that water from the tree base can cause mouth sores, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Be sure to cover the bottom tightly with skirting to restrict access.

Provide a haven

If you plan to entertain family or friends, provide a haven where your pets can retreat when they get overly excited or could possibly escape. Encourage your guest to leave your pets alone when in their sanctuary.

When you travel

If you are going away and your pet is staying home, make arrangements for their care, check that they have proper identification, and make sure their enclosures are secure. Contact a reputable pet sitter or find a high-quality kennel that provides a safe, sanitary environment and has a qualified, caring staff.

If your pet travels with you, identify accommodations that allow pets by contacting the tourism agency at your destination. If traveling by car, provide frequent rest and water stops and bring proof of vaccinations. Always have current identification on your pet’s collar with an alternate phone number.

The College Station Police Department wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season.

 


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 30th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

 

Photo Copyright: dikushin / 123RF Stock Photo

 

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Holiday Safety: Don’t let would-be grinches spoil your travels 

This post is the fourth in a series about keeping your family and possessions safe this holiday season.

By Lt. Craig Anderson, CSPD Public Information Officer

When preparing for holiday travel, some folks make detailed to-do lists so they won’t leave anything important behind.

Gifts? Check.

Christmas cookies? Check.

Ugly holiday sweater? Check.

If you plan to celebrate the season away from home, you might consider adding a few other items to that checklist to keep your property safe. Don’t let the would-be grinches lurking in the shadows spoil your Christmas.

Good locks, simple precautions, neighborly alertness, and common sense can prevent most property crimes.

Is anybody there?

Make sure your home has a lived-in look since most burglars want to avoid confrontation. Put a hold on your mail and newspaper deliveries and hide your empty garbage container. An alternative is to ask a trusted neighbor to handle these items for you.

You can also provide that neighbor with a key to your home and have them park their vehicle in your driveway. You can offer to do the same the next time they leave town.

Lights and alarm systems are great investments, and you may want to add a timer to turn on the lights and a radio or TV in the evening. Some modern security systems and timers can be controlled and monitored remotely through your smartphone. Leave your shades and blinds in their normal positions.

If you’re a renter, check with your landlord or management company about their security measures and what precautions you should take in case freezing weather occurs.

Secure your home and valuables

Lock all your windows, doors and outside gates. You might even consider double-locking your windows with inexpensive key locks found at hardware stores. Don’t hide your keys in a mailbox, under a doormat or planter, or anywhere outside.

Double check your garage doors before you leave, and unplug or disarm automatic garage door openers, if possible. If you’re leaving a vehicle in the driveway, don’t leave a garage door opener inside.

Take smaller valuables such as laptop computers or expensive jewelry with you or store them in a safe deposit box. It’s also a good idea to record the serial numbers of your valuables. You may even want to engrave your driver’s license number on the back of your electronics and computers.

Be discrete

Finally, it’s never wise to advertise your travel plans to strangers, especially on Facebook or other social media.

Let’s work together to keep College Station a safe place to live, work and play by taking away opportunities for crime. The College Station Police Department wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season.


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 30th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!

 

 


Holiday Safety: Use extreme caution when shopping with kids

This is the second post in a series about keeping your family and possessions safe this holiday season.

 By Lt. Craig Anderson, CSPD Public Information Officer

Stores and malls traditionally see their largest crowds during the holidays when much of the population is out searching for that perfect Christmas present.

It’s easy to lose track of essential items such as cell phones and car keys. But those things pale in comparison to what we hold dearest – our children. It’s easy for you and your kids to be distracted by all the sights, sounds, and crowds of holiday shopping, so make sure they stay with you at all times.

Nothing takes the place of your supervision when you are in a public place with your children.  If you think you might be distracted when shopping, make other arrangements for your children’s care.

If your kids do tag along, keep these practical tips in mind:

Adult Supervision

Supervise your child and always accompany young children to the restroom. Make sure your kids know to stay with you and that they check with you or the adult in charge before going anywhere. Know where your children are and who they’re with at all times.

Never use video arcades, movie theaters, or playgrounds as babysitters, and don’t expect employees in toy or specialty stores to supervise and care for your children.

Getting Separated

Practice safe shopping skills with your children. Teach them how to locate adult sources of help and checking with you before going anywhere in a store or mall.

Talk to your kids about what to do if you become separated. Designate a meeting place such as a store’s sales counter or the mall’s information booth. Teach younger children to look for uniformed security or police officers, salespeople with nametags, or people in information booths. Make sure your kids know never to leave the store or mall or go looking for you in the parking lot.

Older Kids

If you allow your older children to go to the mall or other activities without you, they should always take a friend and check in with you on a regular basis. Be sure to have a clear plan for picking them up — including place and time — and what to do if plans change.

Let’s work together to keep College Station a safe place to live, work and play by taking away opportunities for crime. The College Station Police Department wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season.

 


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 30th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!

 

 


Holiday Safety: Be careful when shopping — even online

This is the first post of a series about keeping your family and property safe this holiday season.

By Lt. Craig Anderson, CSPD Public Information Officer

When Christmas shopping, you usually find yourself among enormous crowds at retail shops, malls, and grocery stores. These sizable gatherings also provide a perfect cover for those who are a little short on Christmas spirit — thieves.

If you shop online, you are equally susceptible to being targeted.

Don’t let the bad guys spoil your holiday season. By following these 10 simple tips, you reduce your chances of becoming a victim:

  1. Keep careful track of your bags and other packages. If you leave something behind, it could be stolen or discarded.
  2. Tell a security guard or store employee if you see an unattended bag or package. The same applies when taking mass transit: report any unattended packages to security or staff.
  3. Be sure not to buy more than you can carry. If your packages are making it hard for you to walk upright or see, ask a store employee to help you take them to your car.
  4. Check receipts to see whether your full credit card number appears. If a receipt has the entire number on it, take a pen and thoroughly scratch it out.
  5. Double check that you have your credit cards and checkbook after you pay for your items.
  6. Before surfing the Internet, secure your personal computers by updating your security software. Your computer should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-spam software, as well as a good firewall installed. Visit bytecrime.org for free software downloads.
  7. Keep your personal information and passwords private and secure. Don’t respond to requests to verify your password or credit card information unless you initiated the contact. Legitimate businesses won’t contact you in this manner.
  8. Beware of bargains from unfamiliar online companies. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  9. Use secure websites for purchases. Look for the locked padlock icon or “https” in the URL address.
  10. Shop online companies you know and trust. Check for background information if you plan to buy from a new or unfamiliar company.

Safe Exchange Zone

If you purchase an item through a website such as Craig’s List and need to exchange property in person with a stranger, we encourage you to use the designated exchange zone in the police department’s main parking lot at  2611 South Texas Ave. We record video of the area 24 hours a day.

Let’s work together to keep College Station a safe place to live, work and play by taking away opportunities for crime. The College Station Police Department wishes you a safe and joyous holiday season.

 


About the Blogger

Lt. Craig Anderson is in his 30th year with the College Station Police Department.


 

If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!

 


How to avoid being a spring break crime victim

By Lt. Steve Brock, CSPD Public Information Officer

Spring break is a time of fun and relaxation for many students. But it can also be a time for criminals to thrive.

Don’t let crime spoil your vacation. You can reduce your chances of being a victim by following these tips to protect your home — and yourself — while you’re away.

Protect Your Home

  • Don’t advertise your plans to strangers or on social media outlets.
  • Make sure your home looks lived in since most burglars want to avoid confrontation.
  • Stop mail and newspaper deliveries or ask a friend or neighbor to make daily collections.
  • Hide empty garbage cans or ask a neighbor to move your container to the curb and bring it in after collection.
  • Leave shades and blinds in normal positions.
  • Put an automatic timer on lights and radios, preferably tuned to talk radio.
  • If possible, have neighbors randomly park their vehicle in your driveway.
  • Leave a key with a trusted neighbor. Don’t hide keys in a mailbox or under a doormat or planter –  or anywhere outside.
  • Store valuables in a safe deposit box or take smaller items with you.
  • Make a record of the serial numbers for your valuable items and take the list with you, store it in your safe deposit box or send it to your personal email account.
  • Engrave your driver’s license number or a unique identifying mark on the back of all electronics and computers.
  • Lock all windows and doors. Double lock windows with inexpensive key locks.
  • Double check garage doors before you leave and unplug or disarm automatic garage door openers if possible.
  • If you’re leaving a vehicle at home, don’t leave your garage door opener in it.
  • Lock gates to fenced back yards.

Protect Yourself

  • Make sure your friends and relatives know where you’re vacationing. Call friends or family members to let them know you’ve arrived and returned safely.
  • If you drink, do it in moderation and make responsible decisions. Follow the alcohol laws at your destination.
  • Have a designated driver or designated sober friend in your group to be sure everyone gets home safely.
  • If a member of your group passes out from alcohol consumption, call 911 immediately.
  • There’s safety in numbers. Try your best to stay around your friends, and never go anywhere alone.
  • Don’t ever allow a friend go off with strangers and never take strangers to your room.
  • Don’t assume that someone you’ve just met will look out for your best interests. Acquaintances sexually assault more people than strangers.
  • Only accept drinks from a licensed bartender or consume drinks you pour yourself. If you don’t know the source of the drink, you risk receiving an altered beverage.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings, know where you’re at, and know how to get back to your hotel.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or traveler’s checks. Don’t flash your money around or let anyone know how much money you have with you.
  • Don’t be a victim of identity theft. Never allow someone access to your personal identification or credit cards, which should always be kept in your purse or wallet and never left unattended.
  • Be cautious when sharing your personal information or where you are staying.
  • Ensure the safety of your valuables by not bringing them or locking them in a hotel safe. If you don’t have access to a safe, stow your valuables in the trunk of your car or a secure place in your room.
  • Always keep your hotel room door locked. Use the peephole before answering the door, and never open it for someone you don’t know.
  • Finally, trust your instincts. If a situation or your surroundings make you uneasy, you probably sense something. Be watchful and alert.

Have a fun, relaxing – and safe – spring break!

 


About the Author

Lt. Steve Brock has been with the College Station Police Department since 2004.


 

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5 ways to protect your property, stop vehicle break-ins

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Lt. Steve Brock, CSPD Public Information Officer

Since the start of 2017, about 57 percent of the reported vehicle burglaries in College Station have been the result of owners leaving their cars and trucks unlocked.

texas_gun_rights_bumper_sticker-rd873d81da0ec48959af36cea1496add6_v9wht_8byvr_324A recent trend has been for burglars to target trucks displaying stickers or emblems that suggest a firearm could be inside. After breaking a window, they quickly search the interior, especially areas where a firearm could be stored.

Since burglary is a crime of opportunity, prevention is the key. By following these five simple rules, you can make vehicle break-ins less enticing and much more challenging:

  1. Lock your vehicle.
  2. Park in a well-lit area.
  3. Take your valuables with you, hide them in the vehicle, or lock them in the trunk.
  4. Consider removing stickers and emblems that suggest a firearm may be inside.
  5. Consider leaving your gun at home or carry it with you when legal.

By being vigilant and careful, you can help us protect your property and prevent vehicle burglaries.

 


About the Author

Lt. Steve Brock has been with the College Station Police Department since 2004.


 

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Don’t let drunk driving spoil Super Bowl Sunday

By Chuck Fleeger, Assistant Police Chief

Super Bowl Sunday is one of the best days of the year for sports fans, but it’s also one of the most dangerous days of the year on our roads. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, about 31 percent of traffic fatalities on a typical day involve a drunk driver. On Super Bowl Sunday, that awful number spikes to 43 percent.

We want to see that tragic figure reduced.

(more…)


Can you openly carry a handgun in College Station?

Since the Texas open carry law becomes effective Friday, The City of College Station has put together this information to clarify how the law will apply in our community:

— Public Communications Office

 


Podcast: What we learned from League City’s new police station

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

The College Station City Council will soon decide where they want to locate the city’s next police station. They’ll also have some decisions to make regarding the scale, scope, amenities and, of course, the cost for such an important facility.

In this edition of the podcast, City Manager Kelly Templin discusses a recent road trip several staff and council members took to League City for a thorough tour of that community’s year-old facility. Templin describes what they saw, what they learned, and how the experience contributes to the process of replacing CSPD’s headquarters.

Podcast Archive (more…)


Live Blog: Monday’s city council meetings (Nov. 23)

College Station City Council

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Monday, Nov. 23. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

The workshop will start about 5:30 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 7.

5:40 p.m.

The workshop has started.

Elected Mayor Pro Tem

The council voted unanimously to elect Place-4 Councilman John Nichols for a one-year term as mayor pro tem, which acts as mayor if the mayor is disabled or absent. Nichols replaces Place-1 Councilwoman Blanche Brick in that role.

5:41 p.m. (more…)


Prevent holiday vehicle burglaries and firearm thefts

By Lt. Steve Brock, Public Information Officer

 vaximilian / 123RF Stock PhotoUnfortunately, this is the time of the year when thefts increase, including the stealing of firearms from vehicles and residences. Recently, firearms were stolen from three locked vehicles that were burglarized.

The College Station Police Department encourages you to take proactive measures to make it difficult for would-be criminals to break into your vehicles and home.

Vehicles (more…)


Video: CSPD officer, citizens rescue man from burning car

A man was rescued from a burning car on George Bush Drive Saturday night by the courageous actions of a College Station police officer and several citizens.

Officer Patricia Marty, with the assistance of Texas A&M Transportation Services employees Joel Luce and Greg Stuenkel, pulled Jose Izquierdo from the vehicle just in the nick of time.

Click here for the CSPD press release about the incident.

Officer Marty’s dash camera captured the dramatic scene:

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Guaranteed ways to evade gameday parking citations

By Lt. Steve Brock, CSPD Public Information Officer

12thman TowelTexas A&M football weekends are a busy and exciting time in our community — especially around Kyle Field — but thousands of football fans also need to park and make it to the game by kickoff.

To help you avoid parking citations and thoroughly enjoy the Aggie victories, here are a few things you should know. (more…)


Five things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. Possible Projects for Bond Election: The council will have a workshop discussion on the Citizen Advisory Committee’s recommendations for facilities projects to include in a possible November bond election. The council will also talk about other funding options for the transportation projects.
  2. Gateway Marker Design: The council will receive a workshop presentation on the design of markers for the city’s gateways.
  3. CSPD Recognition: In the regular meeting, the council will recognize the College Station Police Department for achieving compliance with the Texas Police Chiefs Association’s best practices program.
  4. Francis Drive Changes: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider three items related to Francis Drive: an all-way stop at the Walton Drive intersection; a yield sign for the free right-turn bay from southeast bound Walton; and a prohibition on left turns into the driveway at College Hills Elementary School during drop-off and pick-up times.
  5. Rock Prairie Road Development: The council will consider a performance-based agreement to facilitate the development of 232 acres on the south side of Rock Prairie Road at the future Bird Pond Road intersection. The action is another step in the implementation of the Medical District Master Plan. The council will also look at the creation of the related Rock Prairie Management District No. 2 and its board of directors.

(more…)


The secret life of CSPD’s Ronnie Horcica

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By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

2009 Employee of the YearIf you’re a longtime resident of Bryan-College Station and are familiar with local police departments, you might recognize Ronnie Horcica. He’s served in various civilian roles since he graduated from Bryan High School in 1981 and was named the City of College Station’s Employee of the Year in 2009.

What you might not know is that he’s also a radio legend – at least among polka fans.

“I don’t talk about it much, so a lot of people aren’t aware that I’ve also worked in radio for 27 years,” Horcica said.  “Both careers are in my blood.”


PODCAST: Click here to listen to an interview with Ronnie Horcica. If you use an older version of Internet Explorer, click here to hear the audio file from your system. (more…)