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Hurricane plan puts all officers on the clock

By Stuart Duncan
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Hurricane Dolly gave the Corpus Christi Police Department a chance to break out its rain boots and test its Hurricane Preparedness Plan.
"Thank God nothing major happened to where we had to go into the inclement weather," Capt. Tim Wilson said.
Patrol officers maintained normal 10-hour shifts, but not all remained at their regular posts as Dolly swept the area on Wednesday. The department's hurricane plan includes 12-hour on, 12-hour off shifts for its 350 officers, who are required to continue working during such an emergency.
Capt. Mark Schauer helped with the Emergency Operations Center in the 2400 block of Leopard Street during Hurricane Rita in 2005 and did the same thing with Dolly. Schauer said his job was to direct patrols where they were needed.
Detectives also were prepared for other duties.
"When there is a hurricane, that is our initiative -- everything else stops," Lt. Raymond Lara said. "Detectives become patrolmen, and they put us in shelters and we also cover the (City Detention Center) jail."
"When we go into hurricane mode, there is a plan in place and everyone knows what to do," Lt. Curtis Abbott said.
Police Chief Bryan Smith said every hurricane is different and the police department responds accordingly.
"We don't put things in stone," Smith said. "We adapt as necessary."
If a major hurricane were to hit the Corpus Christi area, it wouldn't mean the entire police force would tend to hurricane relief. Smith said at least 20 officers would handle all other non-hurricane related police matters.
Smith said rain gear, such as boots, pants and raincoats, is issued to officers before hurricanes hit and each officer is expected to have fully charged batteries for their radios, as well as carry three days' supply of food with them in case they get stuck out in the field for a lengthy period of time.
Capt. Todd Green said police officers are like anyone else during a hurricane alert in that they tend to their families first.
"That's what I've always done in the event of a hurricane -- evacuate my family as soon as possible," Green said. "Knowing that (my two children) were safe and out of the city, that's one thing that I don't have to worry about -- their safety."
Luckily, he added, Dolly's near miss was a good way to test the plan in place.
"It's like a dress rehearsal," Green said. "It is still good for us to review to see what we have in place."

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