I recently had a telephone conversation with Captain David Donaldson of the Clear Lake Shores Police Department. Clear Lake Shores is a city in Galveston County within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area and is regarded as "The Yachting Capital of Texas", as the city has more boat slips than people. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 1,063.
There had been a lot of changes made in the police department recently, several personnel changes from the top down and according to reports to The Police News from residents, there was discontent in the ranks. Even Captain Donaldson was new to the department but we learned of each others mutual high regard for Dickinson Police Chief Ron Morales, Captain Donaldson's previous supervisor.
I asked Captain Donaldson if he would take the time to write an introduction of himself and his background and give us an update on the direction and goals of the Clear Lake Shores Police Department under new leadership. The following is his letter to me.
My personal thanks to Captain Donaldson for the following letter. I think it also serves the citizens of Clear Lake Shores who read it.
Breck Porter, Editor
The Police News
CLEAR LAKE SHORES POLICE DEPARTMENT
1006 South Shore Dr.
Clear Lake Shores, Texas 77565
D. Donaldson, Patrol Captain
October 17, 2013
Breck, you had asked for a little history about me. Well, here you are. I started my law enforcement career with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Department in the Corrections Division where I was a commissioned Corrections Officer. Following that, I gained employment with the Hitchcock Police Department where I was assigned to the Galveston County Narcotics Task Force, assigned to work undercover assisting DPS Narcotics and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Additionally, I worked in the Patrol Division, and Traffic Enforcement Division. After being offered a career-advancing opportunity by the Dickinson Police Department, I led their Traffic Enforcement Motorcycle Division, a position I maintained for 15 years before being hired by Clear Lake Shores Police Department as Captain, second in command to the Chief.
Since coming to Clear Lake Shores, I, along with (at that time) Interim Police Chief Kenny Cook, have embarked on a mission to revamp the Police Department with a focus on community outreach programs and a hands-on approach to community policing. Throughout my Law Enforcement career, I have had exceptional supervisors such as Mike Land, Curtis Pope, Tracy Keele and Ron Morales, all of whom are from Galveston County. I have taken their management styles and implemented them in my leadership model. I’m a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which is an organization dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in Law Enforcement. I have numerous hours at the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas and currently the Assistant Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Clear Lake Shores.
Breck, you had also asked me “what’s new with the Clear Lake Shores Police Department?” The answer to that is “everything”. In July, 2011, Paul Shelly stepped down from the Chief’s position and Kenny Cook (the Assistant Chief) took the reins. In September 2012, I, at the behest of Chief Cook, left the Dickinson Police Department to join his team as Patrol Captain and second in command; and what a journey it’s been since then.
The incoming goal I had was to reinvent the image of the Department with a focus on improving the level of professionalism. There is no better way to accomplish that than to, literally, change its image. To get back to the basics, we painted our offices with a new color. We rearranged the furniture and layout. We consolidated and streamlined paperwork, adding new letterheads to every document. We updated old policy and added some new ones. We even changed our citation books to a much simpler and cleaner format.
But we didn’t stop there. We changed the look of the uniforms by adding yellow striping on our trousers and shirt epaulettes. We also added a completely new uniform; a royal blue polo shirt with black cargo pants. We retired the old patch and, as a Department, designed a new one from scratch, of which we are all quite proud. Next came the fleet; gone are the red, blue and yellow lettering, replaced by a solid, royal blue stripe down the center of each unit with matching lettering and the new patch. Even our golf cart got a facelift.
In an effort to increase community policing and outreach, we added a Bicycle Patrol Division to the Department. Each front-line Patrol Officer completed a rigorous and demanding 40 hour course from the Houston Police Department to become certified in Bicycle Patrol Procedures. Thanks to the support of our citizens, we were able to raise enough money to purchase 5, brand new, top-of-the-line, custom outfitted, Cannondale police bicycles. We have used our bicycles during community functions, for national celebrations, during the summer, and you can expect to see us out on them throughout the coming holiday season.
Just recently, we have changed our jail. Previously we were contracted with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office to use their jail facility. But as of October 1st, we have entered into an agreement with the Dickinson Police Department to use its jail. This change will save the City and the Department time and money by reducing the cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance.
Breck, I could not have accomplished these many things without my commendable team working alongside me. My guys will be the first to tell you, I run a tight ship. But I believe the best leadership model is to seek the input of the Patrolmen prior to changing or implementing anything and to include them in the decision making process. After all, it is they who are most affected the changes. I can honestly say I have the best Officers in the county working for and with me. Because of the exceptional teamwork and camaraderie, my Officers have consistently out-performed themselves. My guys are extremely dedicated. In fact, each Officer has logged, on average, more than 100 individual training hours this year.
My goal for this Department is to shape it into the most enjoyable department to work for, anywhere, staffed by highly trained and extremely professional officers; and I think we are on-track to accomplish that. While so many of these changes have occurred in just one year, there are many more to come. The City Council has recognized the advanced change in professionalism and the positive direction the Department is going. As such, they have voted to provide us with two, brand new Chevrolet Tahoe’s this year, with the goal of completely refurnishing our fleet in coming years. We are expanding our Reserve Officer program and currently have vacant positions. Newly designed badges will soon be on order. We will be revamping our Marine Division. The list goes on and on. So much has been accomplished in such a short amount of time, but there is so much left to do. Keep an eye out for what’s coming next!
Captain David Donaldson
Clear Lake Shores Police Department