Travis Riggs’ training, life experience and time on the job with the Bartlett Police Department have equipped him to serve his community, and citizens of Bartlett have recognized his contributions by selecting him as the 2016 City Employee of the Year.
He’s worked in law enforcement for 21 years, including seven with Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) and 15 years on patrol. He’s been trained as a crisis intervention officer to work with people, including those with social behavior problems, bipolar disorder and mental illnesses. Riggs is also one of the department’s three trained crisis negotiators.
Earlier in his professional career, he worked for the Coast Guard starting at age 18 for a dozen years. Originally from Texas, he came to the Bartlett area to visit a family member and discovered a new home for himself. While he was driving around, his nephew cautioned him to watch his speed, “because Bartlett don’t play.”
Riggs laughed and said, “That’s the kind of police department we have.”
The Bartlett Police Department has been a good career for him. He has plenty to keep him busy on the job during his 22nd year, which began May 1, and up until retirement just three years after that.
The most satisfying part of the job for him is the variety he sees as a patrolman. “No two days are the same,” he said. “It’s always something different. And I like the interaction the public,” Riggs said. “Working in Bartlett is a real nice thing because we have a lot of citizens who truly appreciate their police department.”
He also valued his D.A.R.E. work, saying, “You cannot measure prevention.”
He works six days on and three days off, and he said he never goes through a single work cycle without someone expressing appreciation for the work his department does. Bartlett is known for community-oriented police work, and recently citizens have been hosting “Cop Stop” breakfasts and lunches to support and thank their officers. He’s also been stopped by a couple who just wanted to offer a local officer their prayers of thanks and protection.
On a typical day, he’ll attend roll call at 6:30 a.m. and go into service around 6:30 a.m. First he’ll patrol for traffic violations and then he’ll start visiting businesses every couple of hours within the area he’s covering. Riggs sees it as important for officers to be seen actually in businesses, not just in stores. He will talk with management, employees and citizens as he visits.
“Being visible is a big preventive tool we have in Bartlett,” he said.
Community policing like that is a positive thing, he said. “A lot of times, people’s only contact with a police officer is in a negative connotation, i.e., a traffic stop or their house has been burglarized or their car has been burglarized or they’re the victim of a crime, and that’s where things are different in Bartlett, because we get to do what I call pro-active community- oriented-based policing, where you can actually go out there and talk to people.”
The lawbreakers also feel the pinch of an attentive police force in Bartlett. Riggs said he has pulled many people over for traffic violations and heard them mutter, “I knew I shouldn’t have drove through Bartlett.”
Simple traffic violations for things like a missing light or speeding sometimes turn into bigger arrests on charges for illegal drugs, guns, suspended licenses or open warrents, he said.
Riggs was honored by the public’s recognition of him in 2016 as the City Employee of the Year, and the honor is in line with how he sees his work. “This is a badge of public trust,” Riggs said. “You represent not just the department but the city as a whole.”
Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.