Town and Police Department Update

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, 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.

A Look Back and a Look Forward

Welcome to 2015! As I reflect back on 2014, I realize it was a very busy year for us. Looking forward, we will continue to be busy as we address the challenges facing our community, our department, and our profession.

Looking Back

We saw many exciting and rewarding events take place last year in our department. After many, many months of planning the Gilbert-Chandler Unified Holding Facility became operational in November. This facility is helping to keep our police officers in town which enhances service levels in both Chandler and Gilbert. Another big project that was launched was the first phase of the body worn camera program. With the partial roll-out, we have been able to scrutinize and refine our general orders and operational procedures for the cameras. Overall, the camera program is designed to increase transparency, reduce complaints, increase the quality of our investigations, and to protect our officers and department. We also began testing the use of tablet computers in the field and completed much of the ground work for implementing e-citations.

On an enforcement level, Operation Gale Force was the largest neighborhood-based drug reduction and enforcement operation ever conducted in our community. Following a several months’ long investigation, this operation resulted in significant drug seizures and has greatly improved the quality of life for residents in the downtown area.

Our overall crime rate continues to be the lowest of any Arizona community with a population greater than 100,000. Nationally, Gilbert was again rated as the second safest community in the United States, as compared to communities with more than 200,000 residents. These are rankings for which we can all be proud.

Speaking of population, it is estimated that Gilbert has surpassed both Glendale and Scottsdale in total population. This estimation makes us the fifth largest community in Arizona, behind Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, and Chandler. In addition to our population growth, there has been significant business growth downtown. New restaurants, a parking structure, and the construction of a university campus have all played a role in helping the downtown area to become a destination spot in the East Valley.

Lastly, we said good-bye to some longtime friends as they retired: Records Manager Anna Ames, Officer Joe Gilligan, Legal Advisor Kate Weiby, Records Supervisor Kenna Espersen, Officer Brenda Tomory, Counselor Sharon Taylor-Wood, Alarm Coordinator Bob Schubert, 911 Operator Tracy Liday, Officer Scott Perron, and Officer Patrick Buvala. We welcomed Breena Meng as our new Legal Advisor. We also congratulated new supervisors Elizabeth Ashcroft in Records and Trish Abeyta in Communications.

Looking Ahead

In 2015, we anticipate lieutenant and sergeant promotions to fill positions. These promotional opportunities are as a result of retirements and an additional sergeant slot that we are requesting through the budget process to address span of control goals. We are also going to implement a Family Violence Response Team within the Crime Suppression Team. This team will be staffed by two police officer positions, from last year’s budget, once hiring and training are complete. As we anticipate several more retirements this year, we will welcome many new faces.

We hope to fully implement the body worn camera program in all enforcement related units early this year. We are also looking forward to implementing the electronic citation program in the Traffic Unit. We will continue to examine the way we do business to maximize the utilization of our limited resources, all the while maintaining the trust and confidence of our community. We will also continue to work in partnership to maintain the high levels of public safety that our residents and members of the business community have grown to expect.

On January 28th we will honor the memory of Lieutenant Eric Shuhandler, who lost his life protecting our community. I hope that you will join us for our Pride and Honor run from Eric’s memorial marker to the Public Safety Complex, which will be followed by a lunch. Later that night, we will hold our annual awards banquet to celebrate the accomplishments of some of Gilbert PD’s finest. I want to offer my sincerest thanks to the members of our awards committee for all of their hard work to make these events memorable for all who partake.

I am hopeful that the trial for Lieutenant Shuhandler’s killer will take place this year so that he can be held accountable for his actions.

I am currently testing the Blauer “Armorskin” outer vest carrier, which is made of the same material as our Class B button style uniform shirt. I will be presenting this item to our uniform committee as an outer carrier option for the Class B uniform; this option will not be available for the patrol polo shirt. Please note that I am not considering replacing the polo style shirt or the MOLLE-style outer vest carrier worn with the polo shirt; the Blauer vest carrier will be an additional option for uniformed wear.

Recently, IACP President Chief Richard Beary testified before the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. He spoke of the decline in violent crime rates in the United States, which are at the lowest levels since 1978. Chief Beary emphasized that a crucial factor in this decline is partnerships that exist between the police and the community they serve. He went on to speak of the law enforcement officers that have great relationships with their communities and how the majority of contacts between the police and the public are non-violent, non-confrontational. Fatal encounters between citizens and law enforcement account for less than 1% of the millions of arrests that are made nationwide each year.

Chief Beary went on to testify that, on average, there more than 50,000 assaults are committed against law enforcement officers annually, resulting 14,000 officers injured and an average of 126 deaths in the line of duty each year. In 2014, 15 officers were killed nationwide in ambush style attacks, matching 2012 for the highest number since 1995.

The testimony also spoke of the community policing efforts that have been hampered by reduced budgets and resources as well as reduced services for the mentally ill and substance abusers. The latter has resulted in an increased involvement by the police in these complex and potentially dangerous issues. Police departments across the country are being told to “do more with less.”
IACP held the National Policy Summit on Community-Police Relations: Creating a Culture of Cohesion/Collaboration. Participants at this summit identified three elements of strong community-police relations: educating the community about police practices; consistent communication with the community and internally within police departments; and partnerships and collaboration with the community are crucial to effective relationships. For over 20 years, IACP has been advocating for the creation of National Commission on Criminal Justice in order to examine the effectiveness of the entire criminal justice system.

As the national debate on policing continues, we must continue to focus our efforts on the majority of our community members who desire to live, work, and recreate in a safe environment. We have seen many people thanking our police officers for our efforts to keep them safe.

We must demonstrate a “warrior” mentality, when the situation calls for it. A warrior mentality is based on having the courage and tenacity to face danger and to place the welfare and safety of others before self. We also must have the ability to set the warrior mentality aside when it is not needed. We do this by demonstrating the ability to treat people with dignity and respect, demonstrating the ability to de-escalate confrontations when it’s possible through effective tactics and communication skills; and, by demonstrating compassion when people are victimized or are facing adversity.

I wish you and your family a safe and happy new year.

Second Safest City in the United States

It was recently announced that, once again, Gilbert has been ranked the second safest city in the United States for cities with a population that is greater than 200,000. This ranking comes from Law Street Media using 2013 FBI UCR statistics. This is a great accomplishment for which our employees and the community, as a whole, may be proud. This ranking serves to illustrate the strong partnerships we have forged with our residents and our community’s business owners.

I am often asked how we can continue to achieve accolades such as this with our comparatively low staffing levels. Equally as often, my response is good people, good partnerships, good tactics, and good training. The community we serve is generally law abiding and is made up of people who care about, and are proud of, their community, their neighbors, and their families. For our part, we work diligently to hire similarly minded people who have a desire to serve the community, and who support and abide by our mission statement and values.

Our values focus on treating people with dignity and respect while providing high quality, customer-focused service. In furtherance of this, we work with the community to address their concerns, to maintain their trust and confidence, and to prevent crime. In addition to working with community members, we have built strong partnerships with other criminal justice agencies to address cross-jurisdictional crime. We constantly review the best practices in law enforcement to identify areas where we can improve. We use data to analyze how to best deploy our limited resources that is both effective and efficient. Our tactics and training focus on de-escalation to minimize our use of force, while being aggressive in our efforts to hold people accountable for victimizing and compromising the well-being of our residents. These tactics have saved multiple lives of armed suspects who were threatening to harm themselves or other people.

Our noble profession has been under attack of late; some in politics, media, and special interest groups have accused us of losing the trust or our communities. Ironically, national public opinion polls rate trust in police officers higher than the very occupations that have made these accusations. One media outlet recently reported this in an article, but concluded that trust in law enforcement will most likely be reduced by the coverage of recent events. Law enforcement agencies, like ours, across this great country have made great strides in their communities through partnerships developed by employing community policing. A strong partnership between a law enforcement agency and the community it serves requires open lines of communication and transparency; sometimes there are dynamics in place that make this harder in some communities than in others.

There have been great advances in police tactics and strategies, such as Intelligence-led Policing, that have resulted in reductions in violent crime and overall crime rates. Unfortunately, there are also critics claiming there are too many people arrested for gun crimes and drug offenses; offenses that degrade the quality of life in many neighborhoods. Throughout the recent intense media coverage, one important factor is rarely discussed: solid partnerships and community trust are two-way streets. They must have commitments and open communication between the both police and community. Another important point not being discussed is the significant increase in firearms related deaths of law enforcement officers. I am very concerned about the seemingly encouraged acts of violence against police and that people are being emboldened to resist law enforcement. The place to resist law enforcement and authority is in the courtroom, not on the street.

There are things that we can do to maintain positive relationships and to repair the damage that is being done. We will continue to move forward with our body worn camera program. While we are still working to resolve some issues (such as slow download times), it is my desire to complete the roll-out to officers in patrol functions during calendar year 2015. The benefits of the body worn cameras far outweigh the administrative burden. I feel that it is essential that we move forward with the program to not only hold ourselves accountable for our actions and maintain transparency, but also to protect our officers and our department.

While research indicates that body worn cameras reduce complaints and use of force incidents, they are not an all-encompassing solution to maintain trust and transparency. We must be prepared to explain what is seen on the videos and officer must clearly explain and justify their actions in their departmental reports. These explanations must include officers’ perceptions and observations that resulted in their actions. We continue to use appropriate force when it is necessary to protect ourselves and other, but we must be prepared to explain our actions. We must be prepared to answer why it takes multiple officers to control suspects who are resisting arrest and the dangers posed to officers when a suspect refuses to place their hands behind their back to be handcuffed, resists arrest, or flees from law enforcement.

We must continue to train our officers to de-escalate situations by slowing things down and effectively communicating with people when we can do so without compromising the safety. Patrol tactics should include the creation of distance when approaching suspects to give ourselves options when we are dealing with potential threat situations. We must continue to cultivate a culture in our organization that stresses treating people with dignity and respect when we can, even when they are not treating us that way.

Lastly, we need to take the time to talk to people, rather than talking at them. Ask people to do things before telling them when you can. Do not be afraid to explain the why of your actions and our procedures. Always remember our oath of office and that we are here to serve our community. We are tasked with enforce the law and maintaining order in a culture and environment which resents authority. We will not make everyone happy. It is unrealistic to believe people will like us when we hold them accountable by arresting or citing them. It is also important to remember that the majority of the public we serve appreciate us for our service. They frequently commend our officers and employees for professionalism, compassion, and for going beyond the expected to give them assistance and service. Our goal is to maintain the trust, confidence, and the respect of the majority.

Best wishes to all of you for a safe and happy holiday season and in the New Year.

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.


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