Men's Breakfast Report, March 2010
The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, March 13 with Tyrone Morrow, the new Freeport Police Chief. For the first years of his life Tyrone was raised in one of the projects in Chicago. This was a group of high rise apartments filled primarily with welfare recipients that occupied five blocks square and housed 25,000 people. When he was nine, the family escaped the projects and moved to a small house on the South side of Chicago. His was the first black family in the neighborhood and was not welcomed. One man particularly did not welcome them. He kidnapped Tyrone, sexually molested him and was about to strangle him when someone interrupted him. While Tyrone was in the hospital a policeman came to see him and pledged to catch the culprit and make sure he was punished, which the policeman did. This policeman became Tyrone’s mentor and Tyrone decided to become a policeman. After Tyrone graduated from high school, he was advised that he couldn’t become a policeman in Chicago unless he had served in the military. After three years in the military he applied to the police academies in Chicago and Fairfax, Virginia. He was accepted and began attending at Fairfax. He was then accepted at Chicago, but was advised by his mentor to remain at Fairfax. He worked at the Fairfax police department and rose through the ranks. He was considered for the Chief’s position but was not hired. He became training officer for the entire county, a position even more responsible than that of the city police chief. He ran for sheriff of Fairfax County, but lost by 700 votes. He said that he did not want to go through another campaign. He then took a position as Police Chief in Waco, Texas. After resigning that position he took a position in the United Arab Emirates training police in modern police methods. The pay was good but he found the social structure disturbing. Most of the workers were from third world countries and were housed in warehouse dormitories and poorly treated. He eventually got into a disagreement with the ruler and accepted the Freeport position when it became available.
He has been here only a few months and is still learning his way around. One of his emphases is on making the department customer centered. One of the ways this is done is to require the officers to be neat and well turned out. Also, the patrol cars are to be kept clean. Chief Morrow believes that neat officers and clean cars give confidence to citizens who call the police.
One personnel change he has made is to switch the lieutenants in charge of patrol and criminal investigations. The lieutenants had been blaming each other for problems in solving cases. Since the lieutenants have been switched they are communicating much more and fixing any problems that they had been griping about.
The question of security for the new marina came up. Chief Morrow said that he could not justify providing a patrolman specifically for the marina. He did say that technology could provide a solution. Modern video cameras and computers could even do face recognition and eliminate the need for full-time security. He was asked who would pay for this equipment, him or Dan Tarver, who was at the breakfast. Both said that it shouldn’t come out of their budgets. Chief Morrow said that some confiscated drug money and contributions from local business could provide seed money that would enable the city to win grants to install the equipment. The department does not have a grant writer but there are several in the community who might be able to do the job.
The question of Port security was then raised. Chief Morrow has had significant experience in the planning for major threats in Fairfax, Virginia, which is near many major potential terrorist targets. The only significant potential target in the area is the liquefied natural gas plant. The police department has a boat that is to patrol the area and provide security for the port. At present the boat usually sits behind the police station because only one officer is qualified to operate it. In the next few weeks Chief Morrow is planning to have several other officers trained to operate the boat. This brought up the question of security restrictions interfering with recreational boating, including the new marina. He said that there are restricted areas that everyone must keep out of, even if they included some people’s long time favorite fishing holes. The reason is that if no one goes into these areas then terrorists would be obvious if they went into them.
General crime was also discussed. Although Freeport has the reputation of being a high crime area, the actual crime rate is below that of Clute or Lake Jackson. A strategy that Chief Morrow is planning to use is to locate all the crimes and the locations of the known bad actors so as to determine which criminals are responsible for what crimes. The department will keep close observation on these people until they straighten out, are sent to jail, or move to Lake Jackson. As part of this initiative, the department has served five search warrants since he has come to Freeport.
As usual, the men had an interesting discussion, and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be on April 10.