DAYTON – Fast approaching his first anniversary, Police Chief Derek Woods is excited to see significant changes within his department, including pay, quality of officers, and equality.
At the close of 2022, DPD had filled every position in the department for the first time in quite a lengthy period, and now those hires will be seen across the community.
"As we start the 2023 new year, I am excited that we have such an awesome staff in place. With the addition of the three new officers, Shelley Edwards, Delaynie Burns, and Karla Umana, we currently have 25% of our sworn police force that is female," said Woods.
Those three ladies will join Detective Sgt. Terry Dale and Sgt. Kristen Siebert on the force, giving Dayton a unique look, as few departments the size of Dayton’s employ such a prominent percentage of female officers, according to Woods.
"Siebert and Dale have been with Dayton Police Department for a while and are currently in leadership roles, supervising several people. It is uncommon to have this many female officers in a department our size. We are always looking for good local people to serve in our department, so we feel like we hit the lottery getting this many local people, and it sure is a win having this many female officers," said Woods.
Burns, 22, is from Dayton and recently graduated from the Liberty County Sheriff's Office Police Academy alongside Umana, 21, a resident of Liberty.
Edwards, 42, comes to DPD, where she previously worked, from the LCSO, where she has been the last seven years. She is also a resident of Dayton.
Dale, 56, has 12 years of total law enforcement experience. She has six years with DPD and six years with Daisetta PD. She has an advanced peace officer license and currently heads the Criminal Investigation Division.
Siebert, 34, has 11 years of law enforcement experience, is currently a sergeant in the patrol division, and has an advanced peace officer's license.
Woods believes that Dayton has been able to identify a more substantial candidate pool for positions following city council efforts to increase the base pay at DPD.
Woods also recently hired a pair of new dispatchers to join the department.
Vanessa Ussery returns to the team with seven years of experience, previously spending five years in Dayton. She is joined by Tiffany Deal, who has three years of experience with the Cleveland Police Department.
"The recent pay increase adopted by our city council has greatly attributed to us getting these new hires on board. The council saw a need and adopted the new pay scale, which allows us to be competitive with other agencies in our area. The council and community have been super supportive of our department, and it sends a great message to the employees that they are valued in the job that they have serving the citizens of Dayton," said Woods.
Now comes the announcement of the Dayton Citizens Police Academy, beginning Tuesday, Feb. 28. The class is set to run for six weeks and will start at 6 pm every Tuesday.
"The class will give the community a chance to interact with the officers and also learn some of the day-to-day operations of the police department, including patrol, criminal investigation division, dispatch, and other functions within our department," said Woods.
The class is open to the first 20 citizens that reside in Dayton, and applications are available on the city's website at cityofdaytontx.com.
Woods looks forward to a big year in the community and extraordinary things from his officers in 2023.
"I could not be more excited about the staff we have in place and look forward to a great year," he concluded.