When newly appointed Robinson Police Chief Phillip Prasifka stepped into his sparsely decorated office for the first time last week, his primary focus had nothing to do with wall hangings or other decorations.

“I have always been very big into community policing,” the 54-year-old chief said. “I’m not talking about doing this or having this available. Community policing is something you live every day and it’s everything you do in law enforcement. It’s every relationship. It’s every contact you make should be all about community policing.”

City officials and community members greeted Prasifka last week when he took his oath of office during a Robinson City Council meeting. Prasifka is filling a vacancy left when former Chief Rusty Smith retired in May after almost 11 years with the city.

Prasifka was chosen from a pool of 52 applicants, eight of whom were interviewed for the position. He had been police chief in Glenn Heights, overseeing about 20 sworn officers, since 1999. He became the Electra police chief in 1997 after starting his career as a patrol officer in College Station.

In his first week in office, Prasifka started meeting individually with staff and administrators to start developing a direction for the department.

“I’ve gotten very positive feedback in trying to establish personal relationships with all the staff and tell them a little bit about me, because I am from the outside,” he said. “It’s going to be a hefty goal, but I want to set the bench mark as the best law enforcement agency in McLennan County.”

Connection with Devlin

Despite leaving southern Dallas County for the Robinson job, Prasifka is a familiar face to Hewitt Police Chief Jim Devlin. While he was a sergeant and lieutenant with the Lancaster Police Department, Devlin worked in partnership with Prasifka and his officers in neighboring Glenn Heights from 1999 to 2009.

“We had interactions because our cities were so close together, so I knew him, a lot of his officers and we did have the opportunity to help each other out on specific offenses during the several years that I was with Lancaster,” Devlin said. “That area is significantly different than Central Texas, with different dynamics there, but I have seen Phillip grow with Glenn Heights and in their growing community.

“I think this is the perfect opportunity for Robinson and Chief Prasifka.”

Devlin said as population growth continues in Robinson, Prasifka will be able to manage the changing trends in the area. Although Prasifka has decades of police experience, he said he does not consider his new role a “retirement job.”

‘Evaluation period’

“I think I’ve hit the ground running and plan to keep getting to know the community and meeting with city officials and local residents,” he said. “Right now, I am still in an evaluation period, and that is what I am trying to relay to the internal staff and community. If I see something that needs to be addressed immediately, I will address that, but this is a good process to be methodical and evaluate to make sure we all partner together to make the community better.”

Prasifka said he plans for the department to develop a significant presence on social media so residents can stay informed. He also plans to establish quarterly meetings with residents to discuss neighborhood concerns.

The city will host a “Meet the Chief” reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 20 in the Robinson City Council chambers at 111 W. Lyndale Ave.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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