Rewind back to 1999, when David Shilson is working in College Station, TX, about to meet and marry his wife. In 2002, when the time came for her to graduate and decide where to start their lives together, they knew they wanted to be near family.
Two options presented themselves: live near her family in the east texas area, or near David’s mom in Frisco.
David explored both police departments to see where he felt the nudge to put down roots. Let’s just say the ride out with the Frisco department didn’t draw him here.
He was, in fact, underwhelmed by Frisco’s quiet town of about 45,000 residents.
The facilities were lacking and Frisco didn’t have the action he was used to in College Station. Thankfully, Gina McFarlin, a Sargeant in Frisco at the time, had met David at a training in College Station and encouraged him to give Frisco a chance.
And he did. It was those early experiences with Frisco that the future Police Chief found so compelling years down the road. It was the ability to be a part of the solution that kept him happy here. Chief Shilson shared with us,
I felt like I could help change things. I had the opportunity to be part of the solution. I didn’t start here thinking I’d be Chief in 17 years. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine having the opportunity to be Chief here. Seeing what this department has grown into is really amazing.
Staying Ahead of the Curve for Our Schools
As a father of Frisco ISD students and spouse to a Frisco ISD employee, to Chief Shilson, the safety of our schools is paramount. Through technology, training, and threat assessment (like identifying at-risk youth), the Frisco Police Department aims to stay ahead of the curve to find ways to make schools safer.
Frisco is way ahead of the curve as far as school safety. The Safer System is one example of the technology we have that gives us critical information. It allows us to see inside the school and know what’s going on. We have training for FISD staff that increases confidence about what to do in situations. But, we never sit back and think ‘we’re good’. We sit back and think, ‘what can we do to make us better?’
The partnership and collaboration between the police and the school district are key. The FPD puts together training for all of FISD staff where they actually go through scenarios for hands-on active threat training. They learn what to do inside their classrooms to keep themselves and students safe.
The fact that Frisco ISD earmarks time for staff to go through hands-on active threat training shows the commitment that school safety is a priority.
Even when David Shilson is off the clock, one of his off-duty activities involves being an extra set of eyes and ears and a helpful presence on campus for FISD students and teachers. At one of his children’s schools, he volunteers his time leading the Watch D.O.G.S. program, a PTA-run opportunity for dads to spend time on campus, in the classroom, and on the playground.
I think it [Watch D.O.G.S.] gives people an appreciation for the staff. People don’t have a true picture of what goes on on campus unless you experience it. I don’t think most people realize what the staff, especially the cafeteria workers, have to do. One of the things we help out with is helping so they aren’t doing these things by themselves every day. Watch D.O.G.S. is a way to engage with your kids and help.
Sports City USA Gives Frisco PD a Challenge and an Edge
Having so many professional sports teams housed here not only puts Frisco on the map for sports fans, but it makes our police department unique. Shilson notes,
It’s one of the things that makes us unique as a city. We’re tasked with keeping these events and venues safe. It’s not necessarily something a department like Plano, for example, is tasked with. Keeping The Star safe or a NCAA Championship game safe….it sets us apart.
The variety of sports and sports venues may even be a nice recruiting tool for the Frisco Police Department. Chief Shilson says it’s noteworthy to anyone thinking about coming to work here.
Most cities’ police officers and dispatchers don’t have the chance to be a part of venue safety and major events. It appeals to people looking for the right fit if gaining that experience is important for their career. In addition to patrol work, officers can come here and have the opportunity to work a professional soccer game or a baseball game, for example.
A Leader Among Neighbors
Chief Shilson loves the same things about Frisco that many of us do and can relate to life in Frisco on a personal level. He’s a parent, spouse, employee, and sports fan, just like many of those he serves.
He reads articles (lots of articles), watches movies, and volunteers his time. He runs on the trails and his kids ride their bikes, play basketball at the park, and fish in the local ponds.
Chief Shilson shared with us why he feels so connected to the city he is sworn to protect every day:
I live it. I have a good perspective and insight on the school district because my wife works there. My kids are involved in youth sports, which is a big piece of this community. My family enjoys the offerings that Frisco has. It’s one reason we’ve stayed here. We recognize Frisco is a place that offers more than most cities. And, beyond that, Frisco is a very charitable, faith-based community. We have so much to offer.