JARRELL, Texas (KXAN) — A growing community in northern Williamson County now has around-the-clock police coverage for the very first time.
The Jarrell Police Department posted on social media that it added a night shift on Oct. 1. That means the city now has officers working from midnight to 8 a.m. in addition to its other shifts.
Chief Marc Owens said he wanted to create a 24-hour department when he took the job in Jarrell in 2018, citing the city’s population growth and its location along I-35 as motivating factors.
“We need to have the ability to interact with our residents and our business owners, but we also need the ability to address any and all concerns,” Chief Owens said. “Jarrell Police Department in the past did not have night shift out there, so we did not know everything that was going on at night. We did have assistance from the [Williamson County] Sheriff’s Office to provide some coverage, but it’s obviously best to have 24/7 coverage.”
One of the two officers currently assigned to the new night shift is Officer Travis Noblitt. He said he wants people who see him patrolling during those overnight hours to know a couple of things.
“One is that I want them to feel safe, that this is their community as much as it is mine. I’m here for them,” Officer Noblitt said. “I want them to also know that they’re going to have a fast response time. We try to get anywhere in the city between two and five minutes depending on the call.”
This new shift allows officers to also patrol areas like bus stops and crosswalks before the start of the school day, which Officer Noblitt said many parents had requested.
“There’s been a couple of instances where people actually ignored the crossing guard and just drove by us anyway,” he said. “You’ve got little kids that are trying to walk to school. The last thing I want to see is one of those kids getting hurt.”
Jarrell police recently hired their sixth officer, who graduates from academy in December. When he joins the force, the department will be able to have two officers working every shift.
Chief Owens said he held off starting the new night shift for that very reason.
“I waited until I could have two officers on the street at the same time,” he explained, “so it bridges the time response and it also allows us to become more effective partners with the sheriff’s department because we’ve assisted them with calls outside the city limits in the county.”
KXAN asked several other law enforcement agencies in Williamson County how long they had around-the-clock patrols.
The Leander Police Department went 24/7 in 1979. Police in Round Rock said they had overnight patrols since the 1970s, while Cedar Park made the change in 1976 thanks to a volunteer police force of reserve officers at the time.
Cedar Park and Leander had full 24-hour coverage, including 911 operations, in 1982. The Liberty Hill Police Department only started 24-hour coverage in late 2016 after the current police chief took the job.