Franklin Police Chief Deborah Faulkner and Fire Chief Glenn Johnson joined City Administrator Eric Stuckey on a recent panel discussion on public safety for Franklin Tomorrow. The two chiefs discussed how they work together and with other emergency service organizations to keep the citizens of Franklin safe.
Mindy Tate, Executive Director of Franklin Tomorrow, began the discussion by reporting the results of a straw poll she took in advance of the event. She reported that most people feel very safe in Franklin, which agrees with a similar poll completed by niche.com.
Both Chief Faulkner and Chief Johnson work hard to keep the community safe, and it shows. Franklin crime rates are 51% lower than the national average, and year over year, Franklin crime has decreased 10%, according to areavibes.com.
Stuckey felt that those living in Franklin are lucky because it is a community of people who care and are invested in the place where they live. But the city also invests heavily in public safety. Almost 43% of the city’s $94.9 million budget goes toward fire and police services. The Fire Department receives $21 million and the Police Department $19.6 million.
The Franklin Police Department is fully accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., which was formed in 1979 by a consortium of national law executive enforcement associations. They rank fourth in the nation. Franklin Fire Department rates in the top 0.5% in the country, a distinction they have held since 2015.
Faulkner makes a point of keeping track of how the city and the state stand nationally in safety standings. While the state of Tennessee ranks at the bottom of most lists on safety, ranking 45th on US News and World Reports list of safe states, Franklin has been given an A- as far as crime by areavibes.com.
“We always strive for best practices,” said Faulkner. “We learn from other’s tragedies.”
She makes sure that her police officers have the highest quality training possible and the tools they need to be successful. In today’s environment, training can make all the difference. That is why all Franklin police officers receive crisis intervention, cultural awareness and de-escalation training. Because more calls are related to mental health issues, the officers are also receiving training to deal with delicate psychology. And when force is absolutely necessary, Faulkner sees that her officers have learned proper techniques to keep everyone as safe as possible.
“What we say and do in the first minutes is everything,” said Faulkner.
Time means everything to Fire Chief Johnson, also. When members of his team receive an emergency call, they are usually the first responder. Their eight fire stations allow them to be to an emergency or fire within three to four minutes. That is almost five minutes faster than the average time for EMS. Fire personnel trained in advanced life support go to every one of these calls and can begin treatment before EMS arrives. When Williamson County EMS arrives, they can then apply the advanced critical care training that they have received, including on scene blood transfusions.
During big events in Franklin, the two chiefs work together. Emergency planning for the events covers everything from the mundane of a child falling and scraping a knee to an active shooter scenario.
“When we do special events,” noted Stuckey, “we plan it as if it is a crisis situation. We get to practice [those plans] at every event.”
They also work together to keep local schools safe. Both public systems and private. They take the safety of children very seriously.
“Our policy is now and always has been that officers go to a [school] threat and do what they need to do to stop it,” added Faulkner. “They always carry everything they need to have with them in case they get such a call. As do our off-duty officers.”