Police Department seeks comments on strategic plan

Published 12:49 am Friday, April 17, 2009

The Picayune Police Department is seeking comments on its forthcoming strategic plan for the next five years and has formed a committee to help provide some public feedback.

Also, the department is preparing for national and state recertification.

Before the police department is evaluated by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies assessors for recertification, the department put together a committee of people of various ages and backgrounds to tour the department’s facilities. Members of the committee also were given a copy of the proposed strategic plan. The information contained in it will give committee members a basis to give the department ideas that may help it run more smoothly. The Strategic Plan and the comments will help prepare the department to retain its national and state accreditations.

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Chief Jim Luke said he selected the committee from a group of residents who represent various age groups and backgrounds. Each member of the committee was taken on a tour of all three buildings that comprise the department’s facilities. Those buildings include the Criminal Justice Building on Main Street and the Criminal Investigations Division and Records buildings on Goodyear Boulevard.

“We need to keep our finger on the pulse of the community,” Luke said during a meeting he held at City Hall after the tour.

Brenda Smith, the department’s former chief and current accreditation manager, said the department’s time to be examined for national recertification is approaching. That process will involve assessors coming from out of state to tour and evaluate the department’s operations. That process will ensure accreditation standards are being upheld. Some of the standards assessors will evaluate include the department’s hiring and promotion processes and its policy on use of force. There are 459 standards for state accreditation and 121 national standards, Smith said. Once the assessors report is finished it will be submitted to CALEA’s board, which is comprised of other police chiefs, city managers and business people.

Becoming nationally and state accredited has helped the police department reduce the number of lawsuits and complaints filed against it, Smith said. With accreditation comes an open door policy that enables anyone who has a complaint to file it at the department. That complaint is then posted on a bulletin board in the police department lobby. Smith said there are instructions for the complaint process on the same bulletin board.

After the local committee toured the buildings and watched a video explaining accreditation and what it can do for a law enforcement agency, Deputy Chief David Ervin presented each member with a copy of the department’s strategic plan. He asked each committee member to read the plan and use that information and the tour to submit ideas for possible changes.

Some of the things Ervin listed in his plan, and shared with committee members at the meeting, concerned keeping the department up to date with technology, increase communications with fire, medical and law enforcement agencies, and efforts to build a new central department. With the department being spread out in three separate buildings, it seems like there are three separate departments instead of one, Ervin said. For each issue he listed possible solutions in the plan.

Ervin expects the department to deal with an expected increase in traffic problems that may come with the work planned for U.S. 11 to widen the highway to five lanes. He said that work will not only increase traffic problems by two-fold but will increase the safety demands of the department.

A goal listed in the plan involves reducing drug use and other drug-related activities in the city, which should help to reduce overall crime, Ervin said.

“It all revolves around the drugs,” Ervin said.

Other goals listed in the plan include aiding in safety of the schools and students, providing for the needs of the city inmate population and effectively using technology to reduce duplication of efforts and enhance agency operations, the plan states.

Committee members found the tour and meeting helpful by providing them with information about the current state of the department. At the end of the meeting one member had a comment on how he thought department operations could excel. Committee member Joey Temples said during his tour he noticed the need for a unified department location, instead of having offices in three separate buildings.

Committee member Dale Clabaugh said the opportunity provided to him by the department will be a great way to provide his ideas to help the department address what he believes the community needs.

The committee members will submit their comments and ideas to Ervin who will collect them for consideration to be included in the comprehensive plan. The general public also will have an opportunity to view the strategic plan and submit their ideas and comments by contacting either Ervin or Luke.