Victoria Police Crime Prevention Unit wins three state awards
By BY GHENI PLATENBURG
July 19, 2010 at 2:19 a.m.
Despite being a small crew of only three officers, the Victoria Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit walked away big winners at the 2010 Texas Crime Prevention Awards Ceremony.
"It's quite an honor," said Sgt. Felix Appelt, of the crime prevention unit, "You're lucky if you get one award and we walked away with three."
The awards were issued during this year's Texas Crime Prevention Association Conference, held July 12 - 16 in San Antonio.
The unit, which also includes Officers Willie Whitfield and Chris Guerra, received the most prestigious award of them all, the Horizon Agency Award.
"Out of the entire state of Texas, our organization was one of the select agencies honored and recognized for our efforts in crime prevention in Victoria. This speaks volumes for our staff and their focus," said Victoria Police Chief Bruce Ure. "Receiving these awards is uplifting not only for our crime prevention staff, but also for our entire organization and our community."
Winning the award came as a surprise to the fairly new unit, which made the transition from a community services division to a crime prevention unit about two years ago as a response to changing crime statistics.
"I honestly believe that our Crime Prevention Unit is doing things that no one else in the state is attempting. We've stepped outside the mold of traditional crime prevention and sought out new and more effective ways to make an impact in our city," said Guerra. "I believe this award signifies our efforts to take crime prevention in a new and fresh direction."
Some of the unit's programs include implementing the statewide Lock. Take. Hide program locally, conducting burglary report cards, helping to organize neighborhood watches and creating public service announcements on burglaries, scams and warrant roundups.
In addition, Guerra won the Most Outstanding Crime Prevention Specialist in the small agency category award.
Over the past year, Guerra, who is a five-year VPD veteran and the spokesperson for Victoria Crimestoppers, has helped with the development of 12 new crime prevention programs and national award winning public safety announcements.
He also writes a monthly newspaper column, which educates residents on crime prevention issues.
"I felt honored and appreciated. I love my job and strive to make the city a safer place for our citizens," said Guerra.
Local business Bright Idea Media won the award for most outstanding crime prevention business for assisting the police department with the production of its public service announcements.