Leading Force: Mansfield’s Chief of Police On Serving the Greater Community
May 23, 2016 02:39PM
By Melanie Heisinger
Growing up in nearby Everman, Tracy Aaron had the benefit of learning firsthand about hard work and ethics from his father. He says working as an electrician alongside his dad taught him the importance of being a man of his word and always giving more than is expected. “I learned that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking,” says the 50-year old Aaron, Mansfield’s police chief. That philosophy and his own “passion for service” have carried him through a successful life in law enforcement and beyond.
Aaron has been a police officer since graduating from the Texas A&M Police Academy in 1987. He started his police career, not surprisingly, in Everman. In 1989 he joined the Mansfield Police Department where he has been ever since. Over the past 26 years he has worked in areas such as patrol, the reserve unit, the mounted unit, SWAT technical support, the chief marshal/jail administrator responsible for the jail service, the Marshal division, Transport Officers, warrant service and the Municipal Court. He’s been police chief since the summer of 2014.
He says as police chief he is compelled to “provide the best equipment to our officers and staff to keep them safe and efficient.” He believes it’s important to stay on top of evolving technology, be involved in the community, and communicate well within the community. “I believe in transparency in our department and strive for the best service recognized by a commitment to keeping response times in check and responding to each call professionally and efficiently.” He points to the Mansfield Police Department’s mission statement “…to provide the highest level of service in partnership with the community, to foster a safe atmosphere promoting the highest quality of life for all people,” and strives for this to be reflected in the department and its representatives at all times.
Serving as police chief is an enormous task and Aaron’s job includes complex budget oversight, various contract negotiations, and, of course, employee management of a large department.
Aaron freely admits he relies on his leadership team to help him accomplish day-to-day goals and maintain efficiencies for the 234-person department. “I am responsible for 17 divisions, a budget for each, and oversight on each,” he says. “I rely on three assistant chiefs and the jail administrator.” Together, they are responsible for Animal Control, Training, and Professional Standards, the Patrol Division, Commercial Vehicle, Traffic, Communications, K-9, SWAT, the Jail Division, Negotiators, Community Resources, the Criminal Investigation Division, the municipal court and the support officers who are responsible for warrant service and prisoner transport.
The Mansfield Police Department is unique because it provides jail services for other agencies. “The average jail population is about 280 and is comprised of Fort Worth Police Department arrested persons, Kennedale, Burleson, the Federal Bureau of Prison as well as Mansfield Police Department, Mansfield ISD Police Department and the Hospital police,” he says. The revenue stream from the regional jail concept allows Mansfield to offset some of their operating expenses.
Despite the long list of duties and management responsibilities, Aaron says at the end of the day he’s still one of the guys. “I’ve been known to answer calls, make traffic stops, help a stranded motorist, and even change a tire,” he says. “That usually happens when it’s raining!”
Accomplishments and Challenges
The Mansfield Police Department is always seeking ways to enhance its resources and provide more service to the community. Aaron says under his leadership the department applied for a grant and received a shooting simulator, and a SWAT robot, among other equipment, established a central records room, a training facility, and will soon be an accredited agency recognized by the Texas Police Chiefs Association. “We started an Explorer Post to involve our youth as well as a Senior Program to take care of our Mansfield seniors,” he says. “Both have grown and are very successful.”
But challenges remain. Aaron says it can be a struggle to find and retain good cops especially in light of the negative publicity law enforcement has received over the past few years. “We are lucky that our community is very responsive to our officers in a positive manner,” he says.
He would like to design and build a new police facility that would once again get the entire department under one roof. And, he says, “I would like to establish at least one store front for my Community Resource Division, an area to position our Bike Unit allowing them a more direct access to the trail system and community involvement.”
Aaron says he hopes to leave his mark on the Mansfield Police Department by providing a great service and continued public trust. “I want people to notice we are the best trained and equipped department around that in turn makes them feel safe to live, work and play in our city. We want to be the respected department that others will want to follow. We want to be the example. I believe we are now and we will continue to be.”
Tracy Aaron Bio
Background/Training/Education: I graduated from the Texas A&M Police Academy in 1987. I hold a Master Peace Officer license, a Bachelor degree in Business Administration, and am pursuing a Masters in Criminal Justice from Tarleton State University. I am a graduate of Sam Houston State University’s new Chief Development Program as well as their Jail Administration Management and Operation Program. I am a certified Field Trainer and have logged numerous in-service training hours.
Professional life: where, when, accomplishments: I started my police career in 1987 in Everman, TX. I went to work for Mansfield in 1989. I served six years as the Mission Director for my church, was on the Founding Board of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Johnson County, and a former member of the Presbyterian Night Shelter Facility Committee. I am a member of the North Texas Police Chiefs Association, the Texas Police Chiefs Association, as well as the International Association of Chiefs of Police. I was appointed to chief of police of Mansfield in August 2014. I lead the Police Department and am responsible for 240 employees, comprised of 101 sworn officers, correction officers, as well as civilian employees and a number of volunteers. I have received several commendations to include, Meritorious conduct and life saving.
Other related jobs/experience/career: I was one of the founding members of the Mounted Patrol unit, as well as the Negotiators unit. I served in a Technical Support position for the SWAT unit. I was the Jail Administrator and Chief Marshal of the Mansfield Marshals Office.
Married: 31 years to my best friend Sherri.
Children: Three boys, ages 30, 29, 24 and two granddaughters, ages 4 and 2.