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.