PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — Nine officers are set to join the ranks of the Pflugerville Police Department Friday evening, the largest cadet class the agency has ever graduated.
After getting their badges, the men will spend three months paired up with experienced officers to learn the ropes and to get a feel for the community relationships Chief Jessica Robledo wants them to cultivate.
Robledo, just finishing up her first full year on the job, said she’s seen a fair amount of growth in Pflugerville and in the department, and she’s ready for even more. “Pflugerville’s the place to be,” she told KXAN in an interview Thursday.
Officers in the city make about $51,000 a year in starting salary, but that’s not what makes her recruiting easy. Why officers choose to work in any given department depends on on the people they serve and the people they work with, she said, and her focus on building relationships with the people the department serves attracts officers to Pflugerville.
With increased city growth, PPD can’t really control how much crime comes with it; but she said they can control how officers respond to it.
“If you want to have that minute, that time, to engage and have a minute to talk and maybe solve the real problem behind that 911 call, our community’s the place to do it,” Robledo said.
Her department also stations 24 officers at Pflugerville schools, so they’re building meaningful relationships with future generations, too.
“It allows them to be able to connect with children that may not have such a good home life,” Robledo said. “So then they can become a role model, they can become a mentor, they can become that sounding board, and instead of running away from that badge, they run to it, and they feel confident to ask for help.”
The chief said she’ll keep growing the department in total number of officers and in the diversity among the ranks to ensure PPD looks as much like the community it serves as possible. KXAN reported in July that includes hiring more women and minorities as Robledo seeks to reorganize the department to respond to new issues that arise with a population increase.
The department will continue to recruit from other states, she said, and will keep working with other agencies nearby to grow a more regional response to crime. “It doesn’t matter how big or small your agency is,” Robledo said. “If you know that the folks to the north or to the south of you are going to be able to respond and engage with you during critical times, that’s all that matters.”
The nine new officers will graduate at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Det. T.J. Vineyard, who recently retired from the Austin Police Department, will also take the oath and start working in the criminal investigations division.