Chief Wally Wieghat and the staff of Splendora Police Department hosted an open house Friday, Nov. 30, for citizens and community leaders to get a closer look at the department’s new station on the 26000 block of FM 2090 behind Splendora City Hall.
The new 4,800-square-foot station was built by Cook Construction of Cleveland through $750,000 of a $3 million municipal bond approved by voters in the summer of 2017. The station was designed by Wieghat and his late father.
Wieghat, in his remarks to the three dozen or so people who attended the open house, said he wished his father had lived to see the project to fruition. The father and son staked out the building and went through numerous changes before finalizing the station’s design.
“Bless his heart, he didn’t get to see it completed but I am pretty sure he would be extremely proud,” the chief said.
The leadership of Wieghat and the new station have obviously boosted morale for the officers as they are making more arrests, seizing more dangerous drugs and clearing more cases than in years past.
“We just cleared a $200,000 metal theft case for Kennedy Fab that involved seven employees. I am extremely proud of everyone,” the chief said.
The open house was a time of reflection for the chief, who has been with the City of Splendora since 2016. Wieghat recalled two auto-pedestrian accidents that happened on his first two weeks on the job, which highlighted a need within the department for specialized accident investigation training.
“I was beginning to wonder what happened to my sleepy little town. We were really having a lot of major accidents, and as everyone knows, Montgomery County is one of the worst counties in the state of Texas for drunk driving. We have a lot of drunk and impaired drivers to deal with,” Wieghat said.
Today, Splendora PD has three trained accident investigators/reconstructionists, which Wieghat said is an impressive number for a small agency.
Wieghat shared how the law enforcement agencies in East Montgomery County appeared fragmented and were not working together when he arrived. Determined to change that, he met with police chiefs in Roman Forest, Woodbranch and Patton Village.
“Trust me, the thugs are very organized. We have to be the same way. We all got together and decided to pool our resources. We ended up creating an SRT (Special Response Team). Unfortunately we live in a time where people like to go to schools and shoot children, so we prepared for that,” Wieghat said. “We have had to use the SRT several times such as an incident where a man was threatening suicide and was probably going to take out some of his neighbors. We ended up deploying our SRT. I am proud to say we were able to capture the subject before any harm could be done.”
Wieghat said none of the department’s advances in training, equipment and the new police station would have been possible without the support of Mayor Dorothy Welch, Splendora City Council and the citizens of Splendora.
“Mayor Welch took a chance on putting me in office. She has been outstanding in her support of the police department. What you see here in the advancements of Splendora Police Department would not have taken place without her backing and the council’s backing,” he said. “I make the recommendations. I know what needs to be done but they have to have faith in me to back me. What you see here is a tremendous difference from when I took office two years ago.”
Welch, who spoke after Wieghat’s introduction, passed on the credit for the new police station to the citizens of Splendora as they voted for the bond that financed the project.
“In 1966, when the city was incorporated, they put in city hall. In that city hall, we had the police department, the utility department, the water department, the court, clerks and city secretary,” Welch said. “It had gotten to the point where you were walking through a little trail [as you walked through city hall]. I said, ‘You know, it’s time that we put in a new building.'”
Welch said a separate police station was essential to the progress of the city.
“It was time for us to take that next step. With all the new growth coming to the city – we have new businesses coming in, a 90-home subdivision down on Ball Park Road and a 200-unit apartment complex on Fostoria Road – we needed this for our citizens to know where to come if they need a police officer,” the mayor said.
Despite the rapid growth and changes, Welch said she feels safer because of all the extra police officers added to the department in recent years.
“They go around door-to-door and check businesses. They are up and down every subdivision and every road. I am very proud we have camera systems in our schools now and they can be there in a heartbeat if something goes wrong,” Welch said.
Following a ribbon cutting and presentations to Dan Collins with Cook Construction and Chief Delbert Dawes and Assistant Chief Ken Theis with Humble Police Department, guests at the open house enjoyed a barbecue meal prepared by Joe Salas and provided by Martin Auto Group. They also watched a demonstration of the department’s drone program and then toured the station.
By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org