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Stories from the Street—Texas Agency

Jeff Halstead, VP of Genasys, spoke with executives in cities that use Genasys Protect CONNECT, formerly Evertel, to get their thoughts on how policing is changing and to get a look at how they use CONNECT. We hope it gives you insight into how other agencies are coping as well as utilizing CONNECT for departmental communications.

He first spoke to Chief Hawkes in Texas. Chief Hawkes had used Evertel, now CONNECT, for years in another city in Texas, and when he became chief in a different city, one of his first priorities was to implement CONNECT. It is now an integral part of their police department, and they use it as their main law enforcement communication app. 

Stories from the Street photo.
Chief Hawkes and Jeff Halstead

Here is what he had to say: 

Jeff Halstead: The police profession has been in the headlines every single day for weeks and months. What do you think will be the greatest challenge in the next one to two years for your employees and the profession?

Chief Hawkes: Coming from someone who has been in this business for 30 years now, I think most chiefs and officers would agree that it’s not the same profession we got into 30 years ago. So we are in a major transition, not only as far as technology but also as far as the way we police—as far as what’s expected of us as police. I mean, what decisions are made in the next 12–24 months legislatively will have a huge impact on the future of our profession. 

Our job as veterans I think is to prepare this new generation of officers to adapt to whatever is going to happen in our profession, because things are changing enormously. 

Jeff: How does your department use CONNECT?

Chief Hawkes: We needed some technology. I took it on, and the more I used it, the more I liked it. By the time I left my last city to come to my new job, it was my number one priority—I’ve got to have this communications platform because this is how we are going to communicate. 

We do everything on CONNECT. We text each other, we send voice messages, we post bulletins, and we post off-duty jobs. One hundred percent of our communication is done on CONNECT. 

Not only do we use it internally, but I use it as a platform to communicate with some of my closest chief friends. And we use it the same way, only it goes from me to the other chief. I’ll say, “Hey, have you run across this, and what do you do about it?” So it’s a great tool to use with your peer group. 

Jeff: Is there a message you would provide your peers regarding how best to address the challenges that face our profession?

Chief Hawkes: I think most chiefs would agree; it’s actually a scary time right now. The profession has changed. When we got into this business, an investigation was done, which takes time, and all the evidence was presented to a grand jury. If that officer is found to be at fault and violated someone’s rights or took someone’s life unjustifiably, then they are indicted, and due process is played out. I think what’s scary now is that you do your job, you use deadly force, and you just get arrested the next day. There’s no due process, and there’s no investigation. 

As a chief, that’s a hard thing to have to talk to your officers about. 

That’s something that I think is a hard thing to have to tell officers right now, especially ones just starting out. I think that’s why there are so many people who have decided they just don’t want to be police officers anymore. 

Jeff: I know you have used CONNECT to send videos to your employees. Can you tell us about that? 

Chief Hawkes: I was hearing some rumors going around that I thought needed to be addressed. Traditionally, what do you do when you need to have a “come to Jesus” meeting with your department? Call the whole department in, so guys who worked a 14-hour shift overnight have to stay and wait for the meeting to start, or people have to come in on their days off. 

So I decided, let me just try this. Let me just do a video and address these rumors, nip them in the bud, and also, sometimes, as a chief, you have to be stern and say, “I’m not going to tolerate this,” and that’s what I did. We left it open because it wasn’t a person-to-person meeting, saying that if you need to discuss anything I’ve talked about in this video, you can come and talk to me about it. And it squashed it. It worked. 

We want to thank Chief Hawkes for giving us an inside look at how he uses CONNECT in his police department. Look out for more “Stories from the Street” to come from police departments, fire departments, and city governments, and please contact us with any questions or to schedule a demo.