Cedar Park police chief
In his 30-year career, Sean Mannix has watched his role in law enforcement come full circle.
At age 20, Mannix joined the police department in the small Bay Area community of Alameda, Calif. He served there for 10 years before being lured away from California by the Austin Police Department.
During the next 20 years, Mannix worked his way up the ranks from police cadet, probationary police officer and senior police officer before eventually becoming a detective, sergeant, lieutenant and commander.
By the time Cedar Park recruited Mannix, he had risen to the rank of assistant chief. He officially took over the top post with the Cedar Park Police Department on Jan. 24. Now Mannix is back in a smaller community after two decades in a major metropolitan police force, this time to lead the department.
Was it always your ambition to work your way up to chief?
No, my ambition was always just to be a good cop, and I knew at some point I'd be in the management structure. I was blessed and was able to move further through the ranks.
Has the move been a difficult one?
I'll tell you—the warm welcome of the entire workforce of the city and the community as a whole has just been tremendous. In Austin, if you follow police stories there, you know there's a divide to some extent with the activist community and folks having a real issue with policing. Here in Cedar Park, I've found it's a community that's closely knit and very supportive of their police department.
What have you done so far since starting in Cedar Park?
I spent 20 years invested in the Austin Police Department as my law enforcement family, and now they're my extended family because my law enforcement family is now here in Cedar Park. So right now, I am getting to know everybody who works in the department. One of the things I initiated was a survey of all employees in the department, sworn and not sworn, asking them some pretty simple things: What are three things you like most about the Cedar Park Police Department, what are three things you like least and what is one thing you would change? That helps give me an idea of where the employee base is and where maybe they think there are some opportunities to do some things or where we may be able to do some things better. Another thing I initiated and sent out to supervisors last week, I'm requiring a unit analysis from every unit in the department so I'm getting unfiltered information from the sergeants' level directly to me saying what would assist them in getting the mission accomplished better. That will give me a better idea of resource issues.
Is there anything you want to do differently as Cedar Park chief?
I don't believe in shaking things up for the sake of just to shake them up, but I'm by no means a status quo guy, either. Policing has been steadily evolving in my 30 years, and the technological capabilities out there are beyond what we're actually using. I'd like to take a data-driven approach to our community policing model and start trying to leverage technology more and start tying regional databases together because I know that our bad guys are Austin or Round Rock's bad guys because they don't recognize city limit signs.
Will organizing an annual budget be something new for you?
No, that actually won't be new to me because in Austin, at the assistant level, I had a great deal of responsibility for structuring and staying within the budgets I had.
Where do you think Cedar Park stands in the way of public safety?
It's too early to say there's any one thing that's Cedar Park–specific. I will say that I have noted property crime is an issue here as opposed to violent crime. And there are things that people in the community can do to assist us with that—things as simple as not leaving anything visible in your vehicle when you're away from it and locking it. Simple little things like that can help us in reducing the number of reportable thefts in the city and help us become the No. 1 safest city in Texas, because I'm not satisfied sitting in the No. 2 spot right now.
So you're gunning for that No. 1 spot?
Becoming No. 1 would be one of the goals. Whether you get there or not is one thing, but trying to get there is another thing. You may try and try and still not get to where you want to be—but the point is, you try, and you shoot for it. And that's what we're going to be shooting for, to become the No. 1 safest city in Texas.