Men's Breakfast Report, April 2008

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, April 12 with Jeff Pynes, Freeport police chief.
Jeff is a native of Houston and has always been interested in law enforcement.  When he was five, he wrote tickets and put them on neighbor’s cars.  He didn’t know what they were for but he wrote them anyway.  He started in law enforcement as a dispatcher and moved up the ranks. He has been in law enforcement for 22 years, the last few as Freeport chief.

One of the topics of discussion was the expected large increase in truck traffic with the construction of the new Velasco Terminal.  At present the port handles up to 400 trucks per day, which may increase to 1200 trucks per day.  There could be even more if a ship is delayed.  Jeff is starting a traffic division to handle any problems that may arise.  Ravi Singhania of the Harbor Board said that the police and the port need to talk to each other to try to prevent problems before they occur.  One suggestion is that a staging area needs to be set up outside the port.  This will also solve some security problems.  Ravi said that at BASF truck drivers would hide their wives or girlfriends in the cabs when coming into the plant (against regulations) because there was no other place for them to stay.  A staging area would provide a place for truckers’ relatives to stay, and could also act as a truck stop and possibly even make money. 

There was some discussion about relative crime rates.  Many people in Lake Jackson are afraid to come to Freeport because of the high crime rate.  Chief Pynes said that the crime rate is actually lower in Freeport than in Lake Jackson.  The crime rate is fairly uniform throughout the city except that it is higher in the apartments in Ward C. 

A question was asked about the new noise ordinance prohibiting loud sound systems in autos.  Chief Pynes has a program where people issued a first ticket for violating the noise ordinance can come have breakfast with him on the first Saturday of the month and have the ticket dismissed.  The main topic of the breakfast discussion is respect.  He emphasizes that they have to have respect for their neighbors.  He also mentions that the level of sound will cause deafness in the ticket recipient before he gets much older.  He thinks that the program does work and that many of the participants just haven’t thought about it before.  He says that the program is being copied by many other police departments across the state and even the nation. 
We discussed cooperation between the various police departments.  Some crimes like the pigeon drop are rare in each city but are probably carried out by a gang that goes from one city to another.  Cooperation between the cities might enable prosecution of these crimes.  Jeff said that there is a police chief’s organization, that he is involved with, that can do some of this cooperation. 
Jeff has also assigned an officer to community policing duties.   This officer can help prevent crime and provide support to victims.  Community policing can be especially useful for juvenile and domestic violence cases.

We discussed summer youth programs.  The police department has a program where disadvantaged youth can work at jobs with them for the summer.  Other grant supported jobs are also available.  We decided that the police department, the churches, civic organizations such as NOBCChE and the Boys and Girls club and the schools need to get together to try to coordinate these programs.  We discussed the summer youth pastor, Mark Hinchcliff, that we had a few years ago and wondered if we could do this again, possibly supported by the Ministerial Alliance. 

As usual the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next breakfast will be May 10 and all men are invited.