I had the pleasure of attending the premier of Mayor Lewis’ Digital State of Town last week. The Digital Team has produced another outstanding message. This year, the theme was “Growing Up Gilbert.” It includes several testimonials from employees, and residents alike, who grew up in the community and who continue to be a valuable part of it. Also highlighted in the message were the numerous accolades received by the Town:
• 2nd safest city in the U.S.
• 2nd best city in the U.S. for veterans
• 3rd best place to find a job in the U.S.
• 4th best community for Hispanic entrepreneurs
• 5th largest community in Arizona; 87th largest community in the United States
• 5th best food neighborhood in Metro Phoenix
• 9th best city for families in the U.S.
• 12th fastest growing community in the U.S.
• 22nd best place to live in the U.S.
• Best city in the U.S. for working parents
• Playful City USA honoree, eighth year in row.
We achieve all of this with the lowest employee per population ratio and lowest dollar per citizen ratio of our surrounding communities. We, as a police department, are continually working hand-in-hand with the community and other town departments to contribute our part in the achievement of all of these recognitions. I am extremely proud of the work you do as part of the Town’s goal to be “best in class in all lines of service.”
Other highlights of the presentation included the great strides in economic development that the Town has made. This includes the newly opened parking garage that supports the many new restaurants opening downtown and the Saint Xavier University satellite campus that is projected to open this year. Other exciting news on the economic news was the local production of the Iridium Next Satellite by Orbital Sciences. This added production makes Orbital Sciences the largest satellite manufacturer in the United States. The Digital State of Town may be viewed at http://www.gilbertaz.gov/stateofthetown, it’s entertaining and informative.
Another important topic discussed was the Town’s recent award of an AA+ bond rating. This rating is the second highest credit rating that can be achieved. Achieving this rating is a significant accomplishment in and of itself; however it is even more significant given that many municipalities have been downgraded during the recent recession. This rating speaks highly of the Town’s dedication to lowering its overall debt and the zero based budgeting process.
In other news, we recently held a new sergeant promotional testing process. Congratulations to all of the officers who tested and thank you to all of the employees who helped make the process successful. This year, the process was revised to be hands-on and situational based in lieu of the traditional question and answer format. While the new process required significant preparation and many resources, it gave evaluators the ability to see how applicants would actually perform in a given situation and rate them accordingly. We have received a lot of positive feedback from both applicants and evaluators and will use this to further enhance the process.
An eligibility list was created from the testing and is awaiting final approval from Human Resources. Once this happens, the promotion will be announced and will be effective on March 30. This position is being filled in anticipation of a sergeant promoting into Lieutenant Joe Ruet’s positing pending his retirement in early April. A second sergeant promotion is pending the approval of a new position through the budget process. Once the fiscal year 15/16 budget is approved, along with the sergeant’s position, the second promotion will be announced.
The lieutenant promotion process is scheduled for mid-March to fill Lt. Ruet’s position; this promotion will be effective March 30. Also on March 30, Commander Buckland and Commander Smith will be reassigned to Patrol and Investigations, respectively. Lieutenants Lyle and White will also switch assignments on this date.
We are continuing to move forward with the body worn camera (BWC) project. We will be making a presentation to Council during a study session in March. After which, we will be requesting approval to purchase the additional cameras and to expand the contract to cover storage related costs for those additional cameras.
We have developed a workflow for redaction of the video and have identified the additional resources that will be needed to comply with both public and court/prosecutor requests. As of this writing, personnel are being trained to help with the redaction process for court/prosecutor video requests, which will help reduce the time patrol officers are spending reviewing recordings. However, officers will still be required to review recordings subject to media release or public records requests. Officers who already have cameras will receive additional training on the redaction processes and procedures.
Officers receiving cameras for the first time will receive training on their operation, operational procedures and general orders, and redaction. We are planning that it will take several months to issue remaining cameras once they are received from the manufacturer, but it is our anticipation that all cameras will be issued and completely operational before to the end of the fiscal year, June 30.
I continue to receive a lot of compliments, notes of thanks, and commendations from the community for our employees. The underlying theme of the vast majority of these notes are about treating people with dignity and respect, showing compassion, and going the extra mile to help people out. One shining example of this is the response to some photos posted on social media recently. The photos were of Gilbert and Chandler officers who volunteered their time to escort the daughter of Chandler Officer Bryant Holmes, who was killed in Gilbert, to her father/daughter dance. These officers did not do this for recognition; they did it to honor a fallen comrade by showing kindness and compassion to a little girl who lost her farther. But recognition they did receive – worldwide recognition. I am honored to serve with people willing to go the extra mile out of sheer kindness.
Gilbert was recently recognized for having a 67% survival rate during witnessed cardiac arrest situations; this is the highest in the state and one of the highest (if not the highest) in the country. This is just one more example of community and public safety personnel working together. The number of police officers who receive lifesaving medals each year clearly demonstrates our involvement as a part of the team responsible for achieving these results. Responding with our EMS personnel to life threatening emergency medical calls is another service that we provide to our community that aids in increasing the levels of safety in our community.
One of our core values is professionalism. I define professionalism as the way others view us. We must always strive to conduct ourselves in an exemplary manner. Think about how you would want a family member treated by law enforcement if they found themselves in that situation. Be that ideal officer. We must maintain self- discipline and control, which includes avoiding the use of profanity, during situations where we use force, are making arrests, or when we are dealing with hostile individuals. By doing so, we maintain our reputation as a professional public service organization and retain the respect of our community.
As always, thank you for what you do and stay safe.