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Community Trust and Transparency

We must continually work on keeping the precious trust that our community has in us. Transparency and open lines of communication are keys to being successful. As a partial means to that end, we will soon begin our testing period for body worn cameras. The testing period will extend to the end of the year and we expect a full implementation to uniformed field personnel by January 1, 2015.

Body worn cameras are another tool to protect our officers, improve our investigations, and aid us in our transparency to the public. In those instances where we have to use force, cameras may help to paint a clearer picture of the events leading up to that force. There will be questions, as there always are, but we must not be reluctant to explain our actions. Having video recordings of events leading up to use of force incidents may help the public have a better understanding of why, in certain instances, elevated levels of force are used.

As police officers, we are always compared to images in television shows and at movies, where officers are often portrayed as being corrupt and abusive, and where constitutional rights are routinely violated for personal gain or to make a case. These images are created by entertainers for the sake of entertainment. Cameras will hold us accountable to not become these images. If we do wrong we will be held accountable, conversely we will stand behind our officers when their actions are correct, even if correct is not popular.

An important part of maintaining trust, is being dignified in our behavior. People who break the law should fear getting caught by the police, but all people, even criminals should be treated with dignity and respect. We need to do a better job of talking to people, not at them, and of asking people rather than ordering them to do things. I would like to encourage officers to initiate contacts with people with a greeting (like “how are you doing?” or “good afternoon”), then identify themselves, and then ask the person if they know why they are being stopped or politely tell them the reason for the stop; all of this before asking for their identification and required paperwork. Respect begets respect, treat people as you would like to be treated.

Another aspect of trust and respect lies in our appearance. This is one reason that I limit the additions to the outer vest carrier and encourage you to take pride in your uniform and in the way your patrol vehicle looks. We need to look like professional police officers and not SWAT or military officers. The police uniform has a long history dating back to the 19th century; it is symbolic of our profession and heritage – wear it with pride.

Above all else, stay safe.

DDACTS Success

In April 2012, the Department initiated the Data Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety program, known as DDACTS. The premise of DDACTS is to analyze multiple years’ worth of crime, collision, and calls for service data in conjunction with geospatial mapping to identify target “zones”. Target zones are areas in the community that have a higher concentration of activity than other areas in Town.

Once a target zone is identified, resources are directed into the area with the intent of increasing community contacts with residents and business owners. The desired outcome of DDACTS is improved communication about community concerns and an increase in enforcement-related contacts (traffic stops, FIs, etc.). An increase in contacts aids us identifying people and locations involved in criminal activity. As such, DDACTS is fully supportive of our department philosophy which combines the principles of Community Policing and Intelligence-Led Policing.

During the week of July 31, a seven months’ long investigation culminated with the service of search warrants and arrest warrants within the identified DDACTS target zone in the north-central area of Gilbert. By making contacts within the zone we were able to identify a particular residence within the zone that was a gathering place for people who were involved in criminal activity, in particular the sale and use of illegal drugs, primarily heroin and methamphetamine. Because of a history of calls for serve at the residence, officers and detectives were already familiar with the home. As we continued with our DDACTS contacts within this zone, residents expressed concern that this criminal activity was having a negative effect on their quality of life. At this point, a formal criminal investigation was opened.

During the course of the investigation, several additional locations were identified as being associated with the criminal activity at residence in Gilbert. Enough evidence was gathered to secure several grand jury indictments. With the assistance of tactical units from Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, and Chandler Police Department we were able to simultaneously serve search warrants at multiple locations related to the investigation. During the culmination of the investigation, 39 suspects were arrested and/or charged with 303 felony and 34 misdemeanor charges. Moreover, numerous stolen items, including firearms and vehicles, were recovered. Significant seizures made during the operation were a kilogram of heroin from a major supplier to this particular area in Gilbert and significant quantities of marijuana and cocaine from suspects involved in interstate and intrastate transportation and shipment of these drugs. Aside from the stolen firearms, weapons associated with drug offenses and property crimes were also seized.

Our investigators worked closely with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office throughout this investigation to ensure we had sufficient evidence to help them successfully prosecute these individuals. Successful prosecution could yield maximum sentencing from the criminal offenders in the case – providing the residents with a long-term solution to this particular quality of life issue.

I am extremely proud of our Department and of the collaborative effort between our Criminal Investigations, Special Enforcement, and Tactical Operations teams. Many residents in the target zone have thanked me for our efforts saying they will feel safer in their neighborhoods. We have also received notes of appreciation from residents in other parts of Gilbert and even from people in other cities.

This is just one of the success stories resulting from the DDACTS program. Based on the past three years’ data, we have had an 11% decrease in violent crimes, a 39% reduction in burglaries, and reduced the number of calls for service by 12% within the zone. Additionally, officer initiated contacts increased by 39%.

Budget and Project Update

The Town council has approved the FY15 budget which is effective on July 1, 2014. The Police Department received the following positions: two police officers, two civilian patrol technicians, and two detention transport supervisors for the pending holding facility project. Our focus this year was to fill patrol resource positions and the detention supervisor positions. The police officer and civilian patrol technician (CPT) positions were requested as patrol resources, based on the requirements identified in our patrol staffing analytical program. The program identifies patrol staffing needs based on computer assisted dispatching (CAD) data and operational service goals. Tentatively, we are planning to assign the CPTs to a swing shift. This will give us a total two CPTs on day shift and four on swing shift providing coverage every day of the week. The CPTs are being trained to collect DNA and fingerprint evidence in order to collect evidence to support the expansion of the types of calls taken by Teleserve. CPTs will continue to investigate traffic collisions, abandoned vehicles, and enforce parking violations. The expansion of the Teleserve/CPT function will reduce the patrol workload, allowing officers to focus their efforts on prevention, enforcement, and crime reduction.

It will take a year to eighteen months to train and hire the two new police officer positions. Once that is completed, the tentative plan is to assign them to a family violence response team. This team will have the responsibility for initial response and investigation of domestic violence related calls for service, violations of domestic related court orders, incorrigible juveniles, and child neglect / abuse. The team will review all domestic violence related offense reports and lethality assessments, work in coordination with victim advocates and our counseling staff, and to develop safety plans for DV victims. The team will conduct follow-up on cases not otherwise assigned to Investigations and will work arrest warrants for DV cases. Officers assigned to this team will receive additional training in family violence. This response team will be a subgroup of the Crime Suppression Team and will be assigned to a swing shift with seven day coverage. Additionally, these officers will respond as back up or support units to emergency and priority calls for service. A supervisor will be requested in the FY15 budget process to divide Crime Suppression Team responsibilities, subsequently this will reduce fill in responsibilities currently performed by patrol supervisors. The additional supervisor would be in place when the officers are trained and fully functional. This program will reduce workload for patrol officers and will provide greater focus on domestic and family violence in order to prevent further acts of violence. In addition to the sworn sergeant in FY15, we will focus on filling support positions in Investigations to address increasing workloads and our increased focus on career criminals. We will also request school resource officers to fill two schools which have been added in the last couple of years.

We recently received the body worn cameras for the initial testing phase which we plan to implement within the next two months. We are working to finalize the appropriate general orders and will be working to develop training on the operational aspects of the cameras and storage systems. During the testing period, cameras will be on a two-week rotation between each Patrol team, Traffic and Crime Suppression; additionally cameras will be assigned to the Criminal Apprehension Team (CAT) for the duration of the testing period. By testing the cameras before full implementation, officers will have the opportunity to become familiar with the operation of the camera, the uploading system, and the rules surrounding their use. At the end of the testing period we will evaluate the effectiveness of the general orders and modify them if necessary. Full implementation will take place sometime after July 1, at which time each uniformed officer assigned to Patrol, Traffic, Crime Suppression, and CAT officer will be equipped with a camera.

Another major technology related project is the electronic citation program. Tablets with mobile data and RMS access have been purchased for all traffic officers. Traffic officers will be equipped with portable printers and electronic citation software that will allow them to scan driver’s license and vehicle registration data directly into the electronic citation. The citation will be transferred directly into our records management and court management systems, avoiding manual entry and potential errors. We hope to include an electronic warning, which will allow us to capture data and information on violators who are issued verbal warnings. The program will eventually be implemented in patrol as lap-top computers are eventually replaced by improved tablets, based on end-of-service-life of the existing lap top computers within the next three to four years.

The Gilbert-Chandler Unified Holding Facility (G-CUHF) is moving forward. The two new detention transport supervisors that were approved in the budget are needed to staff and supervise the facility. Modifications to our current facility should start within the next thirty days and we hope the G-CUHF will be operational by September. Combining resources with the Chandler Police Department is a cost effective solution to our detention holding needs and will increase the availability of sworn police resources in both of our communities. Increased availability allows us to direct our sworn resources towards the timely response to calls for service and crime reduction / prevention activities.

Our Intelligence and Analysis Unit was recently requested to identify data on our response to calls for service involving mental illness and substance abuse, in conjunction with a social needs assessment for our community. From May 2013 through May 2014, Gilbert police officers responded to more than 404 incidents involving subjects who were making threats to harm themselves or others; 21 suicides; 198 attempted suicides, 193 emergency mental health petitions, and 80 mentally disturbed persons acting in a disruptive or threatening manner; this is an average of 17 mental health related calls per week. During this same period, officers made 1,231 arrests for drug related offenses. Other than suicides, all of these incidents were resolved without death or serious injury to the public, the suspect, or to officers. Each one of these calls potentially resulted in a life being saved. During Fiscal Year 2013, we recorded one use of force event for every 551 calls for service we responded to, and one use of force event per 34 arrests. The majority of our uses of force involve control holds and take downs. I believe that this information demonstrates that our highly trained officers demonstrate considerable restraint, but are prepared to use the force necessary to control dangerous and quickly evolving situations in an environment of increased violence towards police officers.

If you have not heard, Gilbert is now the sixth largest community in Arizona with an estimated 2013 population of 229,972.

Gilbert-Chandler Unified Holding Facility

The Gilbert and Chandler Police Departments are proposing a joint holding facility project to benefit the citizens of both communities. By combining resources, the costs of holding prisoners will be reduced for both communities. Additionally, each community will benefit from improved efficiency and increased availability of police officers.

What is being proposed? The current holding facility that is located at the Gilbert Police Department headquarters will be staffed with civilian detention officers from both agencies. Misdemeanor prisoners, who require appearance in the Gilbert and Chandler Municipal Courts, will be held in the facility for a period not to exceed 24 hours. They will be transported by civilian detention officers to the respective municipal court for their initial appearance hearing. During their initial hearing, the municipal court judge may order the person to be released pending trial, or be remanded into custody pending trial. If the person is remanded into custody, they will be transported to the Maricopa County jail facilities in Phoenix along with any felony prisoners. Gilbert and Chandler will combine resources for prisoner transport, thus reducing fuel costs and time traveling to and from Phoenix.

What is the current practice? Police or detention officers from each agency transport prisoners to Maricopa County jail facilities in Phoenix. Those who are in custody must see a judge within 24 hours. Officers are required to return to the jail in Phoenix to transport the subject for their initial appearance hearing in the respective municipal court. Maricopa County charges an initial booking fee and a housing fee for prisoners transferred to their facility; additional fees are charged if the subject is returned to their facility after their court appearance.

Generally each prisoner’s transportation and subsequent booking into the County Jail averages several hours (per prisoner). Often, police officers are used after normal business hours, when detention officers are not available. This reduces the availability of police officers to respond to calls for service, or to perform proactive and preventive patrol. Gilbert and Chandler officers transport their own prisoners thus duplicating activities.

Why is this proposal good for Gilbert? If Gilbert had a jail facility of its own, an additional 11 employees would be needed for Gilbert to conduct detention holding and transportation operations on a 24 hour basis. By combining resources with Chandler, the facility can be operated on a 24/7 basis with only the addition of two supervisory personnel. Eliminating the need for sworn police officers to transport prisoners to and from the County jail facilities will increase availability of police officers in both communities. Further, fewer transport trips will result in a reduction in fuel use and vehicle maintenance costs for both departments.

How long will prisoners be held in the joint holding facility? Prisoners will be held at the facility for a maximum of 24 hours.

Will there be an increase in the number of prisoners being released in Gilbert? There will be no increase in releases in Gilbert; the Chandler Police Department will return their prisoners back to Chandler prior to releasing them. Currently, subjects held in the Gilbert Police Department holding facility are released at our facility following their initial appearance if the judge orders they be released.

What is the difference between a jail and a holding facility? Jail facilities house prisoners for a period of time while awaiting trial or following sentencing. Holding facilities, such as our facility in Gilbert, are used for temporary holding (less than 24 hours) while awaiting initial appearance in the Gilbert Municipal Court or transport to a jail facility.

Are you building a new facility? The existing holding facility at the Gilbert Police Department will receive some minor modifications to comply with current requirements and to facilitate the joint operation. The current facility will not be expanded but is designed to accommodate future growth.

Do other agencies operate holding facilities? Yes, the cities of Tempe, Mesa, and Scottsdale currently operate holding facilities in the East Valley.

Are the operational expenses shared by both agencies? Yes, each agency will be responsible for their own personnel expenses; operational costs will be shared.

Recent Events

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who was involved in the recent events we held to support Special Olympics Arizona.  Things kicked off with the Rock ‘n Run at the Riparian event.  The Run was a huge success and served as a wonderful opportunity to honor C.J. Udall.  I was very pleased to see the increase in participation for the annual torch run this year.  Unfortunately, due to a last minute conflict, I had to cancel my participation; I certainly missed joining in on this great event.  Gilbert P.D. was well represented at the final leg of the run and at the opening ceremonies for the summer games at Grand Canyon University this year.  Everyone’s support of the cause and the hard work involved therein landed Gilbert P.D. on the top ten fundraising Arizona law enforcement agencies list. The hard work of the Crime Prevention Unit (Kim Kelly, Mary Jo Kuzmick, and Vickie Owen) and the organizers of the Five-O Car Show made this possible.

The Town of Gilbert was named the third safest city in the United States by Movoto, a national real estate and business publication.  The list was compiled by comparing 2013 Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data for Arizona communities with a population greater than 100,000 showed once again that Gilbert had the lowest overall crime rate, the lowest violent crime rate, and the lowest property crime rate. Rankings such as these help us attain our vision as a community where people feel safe in their homes, in public places and on our roadways.  A key to our success is maintaining the trust and partnership with our citizens and remaining proactive, rather than reactive, in our tactics and strategies. The primary focus of our efforts must continue to lay in the prevention of crime through public education and awareness, identifying and maintaining accountability on the small number of people who are responsible for a significant quantity of crime, and the analysis of data and information to direct patrol activities in order to detect and deter crime.  We must also focus our traffic enforcement efforts on reversing the increasing number of traffic collisions occurring in the town.  Traffic enforcement should also be continue to be used as a means to identify persons involved in criminal activity, as criminals use vehicles in the commission of their crimes.

I recently re-published my department philosophy, which included revisions to our intelligence-led policing program.  If you have not yet had a chance to review it, I would encourage you to do so; it is on our web page at:  http://gilbertaz.gov/departments/police/about-us.

I also recently distributed an article from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) on “Procedural Justice.”  Procedural justice is a means to obtaining police legitimacy. Legitimacy reflects the belief that the police must exercise their authority to maintain social order, manage conflicts and solve problems. Legitimacy is obtained through trust and confidence in the police, the willingness of the public to defer to the law and to police authority, and the belief that police actions are morally justified and appropriate to the circumstances.

The principals of procedural justice reflect many of the key components of my department philosophy.  People want to feel like the police are listening and that we care.  This involves demonstrating active listening, and demonstrating compassion.  People want the police to be impartial and base their decisions on facts, evidence and legal principals.  People want to be treated with dignity and respect.  Based on our legal authority, it becomes easy for us to give orders rather than to seek voluntary compliance.  In most non-violent encounters with the public, I would encourage officers to follow the principals of “Ask, Tell, Make.”  Start by asking people to do things rather than telling them to do things. If compliance cannot be obtained by asking, then move to telling them what to do, as long as you have the legal authority to order someone to do something.  You must then be prepared to make them comply with a lawful order, if voluntary compliance cannot be attained.  In most cases, we can gain voluntary compliance and cooperation by treating people in a way we would want a member of our family treated.

Our profession is based on selfless service.  It is our responsibility to conduct complete and thorough investigations, to conduct timely follow-up on our investigations, to solve problems before they escalate into serious matters, to demonstrate compassion and concern, and to treat every call for service with the same level of service that we would expect if we were the victim.

On April 30th, we remembered our fallen with a pride and honor run from Lieutenant Eric Shuhandler’s memorial marker to Officer Rob Targosz’s marker.  Our annual memorial service, where we honor all public safety members past, present, and future, was held following the run.  A special note of thanks to Detective Gary Kidder for spearheading the organization of the event.  We owe it to our fallen to never forget their sacrifices and to carry on their legacy of selfless service to the community.

Be safe and thanks for what you do.

Aside

Tuesday, January 28, 2014, marked the fourth anniversary of the line of duty death of Lieutenant Eric Shuhandler; Eric was shot and killed during a traffic stop at Val Vista and Baseline. Eric should be remembered not only for his service to the Gilbert Police Department and the Town of Gilbert, but also as a loving father of two beautiful daughters.

We began a new tradition this year called the “Pride and Honor” event.  The event began with a brief service at Rob Targosz’s memorial marker on Gilbert Road.  At the completion of the service, runners and bike riders followed the power line trail to Val Vista Road, then north to Lieutenant Shuhandler’s memorial marker.  At Eric’s marker blue ribbons were tied to the marker pole and honors were rendered. The goal of the event was to demonstrate pride in our department, pride in our noble profession, and pride in the community. Honor represents the honor of selfless service, honoring those who have fallen in service to our community, and honoring our public safety workers who currently serve, have served in the past, and will serve in the future.  I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the awards committee who planned the event.  I also wish to thank everyone who participated.

We will again gather on the morning on April 30th, at about 7 a.m., the anniversary of Officer Rob Targosz’s death – the first public safety line of duty death in the history of the Town of Gilbert. The route will be reversed, beginning at Lieutenant Shuhandler’s marker and ending at Officer Targosz’s marker. The route will be broken into segments to allow those who do not wish to run or ride the entire route, to participate.  We also hope to invite our brothers and sisters from the Fire Department to join us. The annual memorial service at the Gilbert Public Safety Complex will be moved to approximately 9 a.m., following the run / ride event. The awards committee will be planning the events and will be issuing additional information soon.

I am also happy to announce a joint venture project with the Chandler Police Department.  On January 30, Commander Pete Smith and budget staff presented a proposal to the Gilbert Town Council requesting initial authorization to implement a joint detention holding facility.  The proposal calls for using our existing facility, with staff and equipment from both departments. Council approved our request and gave their support for this project. This will allow us to operate continuous (24/7) holding facility for arrestees who have not received their initial appearance.  By combining resources, the facility will also be able to accommodate felony arrestees and persons ordered incarcerated by the court following initial appearance. This joint venture will benefit both agencies in increased efficiency and reduced costs of prisoner processing.  It will keep sworn resources on the street and reduce the number of prisoner trips to and from Phoenix.

Some minor modifications and upgrades to our holding facility are needed to bring it up to current standards.  We will begin to finalize construction and upgrade costs and to seek formal approval from the council to use contingency funding for our share of the costs with Chandler paying half. If the project receives final approval, we hope to have the modifications completed by July 1, 2014.  We will be requesting two detention transport supervisors, to supplement Chandler’s one supervisor, to facilitate continuous operations.  One additional detention officer position will be provided by Chandler.

Our goal is to have the jail facility operational within the first quarter of FY15 (July – September, 2014). I commend our staff and the budget office for the efforts that have gone into developing this partnership. This is another fine example of our commitment to identifying cost effective solutions to challenges facing our organization, and our willingness to seek out partnerships to enhance service levels.

Additional congratulations go out to Commander Pete Smith who successfully completed the Homeland Security Masters’ Degree Program through the Naval Postgraduate School. Pete competed nationally for acceptance into this 18 month program which he completed in December.

January was a big month for retirements. Records/Property Manager Anna Ames, Officer Joe Gilligan, Officer/Legal Advisor Kate Weiby, Detective Brenda Tomory, and Interim Records Manager Kenna Espersen have recently retired from GPD. All have served with honor and distinction for many years and they all will be missed. I wish them well in their future endeavors and thank them for their service.  We are in the recruitment and hiring process for the Records Manager and supervisor. We also hope to have a Counseling Manager hired very soon.

National Citizen Survey Results

The Town of Gilbert recently received the results of the National Citizen Survey.  The survey is a collaborative effort between National Research, Inc. and the International City/County Management Association. It provides us an opportunity to assess the quality of life and customer service attitudes in our community and to compare ourselves against local and national benchmarks. The National Citizen Survey replaced the Town of Gilbert Head of Household Survey this year.

Overall, Gilbert did very well, 31 of 35 town services exceeded the national benchmark.  Only one service, drinking water, ranked below the national average. The following information is from the survey and pertains to overall quality of life and to police services in Gilbert:

  • 98% rated Gilbert as an excellent or good place to live.
  • 96% rated Gilbert as excellent or good in regard to overall quality of life.
  • 92% rated the overall image or reputation of Gilbert as excellent or good.
  • 91% felt safe from violent crime.
  • 79% felt safe from property crime.
  • 95% felt safe in their neighborhoods during the day.
  • 90% felt safe in their neighborhoods at night.
  • 7% reported being the victim of a crime, of which, 90% of the crimes were reported.
  • 86% felt safe driving on roadways in Gilbert
    • 80% feeling safe in regard to speed
    • 62% feeling safe in regard to aggressive driving
    • 57% feeling safe regarding impaired driving.
  • 92% rated police service as excellent or good.
  • 85% rated crime prevention services as excellent or good.
  • 79% rated traffic enforcement as excellent or good.
  • 77% rated the value of services for the taxes paid as excellent or good.
  • 90% felt that the Town of Gilbert provides excellent or good services
  • (compared to 52% for the State of Arizona and 41% for the federal government)
  • 81% trust Town government officials.

Overall, our department, local government, and community can be very proud of these results.  They demonstrate that the majority of our citizens have trust and confidence in their local government and their police department; they feel safe in their homes, their neighborhoods, and on their roadways.  All of you, along with our partnership with the community, are directly responsible for these accomplishments. Your efforts do not go unnoticed.

Two articles were recently published regarding issues of concern related to the safety and wellness of law enforcement officers. The University of Nevada at Las Vegas published the findings of a study into automobile related deaths and injuries to law enforcement officers. Traffic related incidents were the leading cause of fatalities to officers for 14 of the last 15 years. Speed, distracted driving, and failure to wear safety belts were identified as the leading causes of death and serious injuries. Half of officers who have been killed in traffic collisions were not wearing safety belts.

This department has an excellent safety record with an exceptionally low ratio of collisions per miles driven. We have made driving safety a major focus of our department in an effort to increase safety for our officers and the public, and to reduce collision related claims and costs associated with repairs. Effective policies are in place and are adhered to by the vast majority of our employees. Thank you for your efforts in this area.

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