Archive for March 2014

Experience and Qualifications

I have been speaking the past several weeks about what is expected of our police officers and our police department.  Today I want to talk about the qualifications of your next Police Chief.  We should expect our Police Chief to possess certain knowledge, skills, and experience to tackle the tasks he will be required to undertake.

We should expect our Police Chief to have a working knowledge of the laws and the constitutional rights of the citizens.  His skills should encompass public relations, management and leadership.  He should have experience with his community and the issues unique to the community.

I believe my experiences, training and employment history qualify me to be your next Chief of Police.

I began my criminal justice career in 1982 when I was hired as a patrolman with the Eunice Police Department. I was promoted to Police Sergeant in 1987 and Lieutenant in 1990.  During this time I served as juvenile officer, Chief of Detectives, Shift Commander and K-9 officer. I was co-founder and charter president of the Eunice Police Officers’ Association until my retirement from the department.

The Louisiana Legislature passed legislation in 1989 shifting the responsibility of supervising misdemeanor probation cases from the Department of Corrections to the local courts.  Judge Feucht asked me if I would serve the court in the capacity of probation officer.  I became the first probation officer for the City of Eunice.  I started on a part-time basis while still working with the police department. 

Also in 1990, I started supervising probation cases for Oakdale City Court and the 33rd Judicial District Court in Oberlin, hiring and supervising several other probation officers to assist me.  1990 was also the year I was presented the 1st place award for Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer in the State of Louisiana by the V.F.W.

I retired from the Eunice Police Department in 1998 when I purchased my father’s business partner’s interest in a lumber and hardware store.  I assumed the position of manager in the business until my father’s retirement and we sold the business in 2003.  I maintained my part-time employment with Eunice City Court during this time.

Shortly after selling the business, I began working full time as the chief probation officer for Eunice City Court and was eventually appointed as Judicial Administrator for the Court, both positions I currently hold.

I was owner and manager of Superior Training Academy, teaching Driver’s Education, Pre-Licensing and Defensive Driving Courses.

I am the founder and president of the Louisiana Misdemeanor Probation Officers’ Association, a successful association, with its beginning in 2008, of probation officers from all parts of the state.  I will be resigning as president at our 6th annual conference next month leaving a growing and sound organization to my successors.

My career has provided many training opportunities consisting of specialized training in Community Policing, Crimes Against the Elderly, Child Abuse and Exploitation Investigative Techniques and Evidence Collection and Preservation, just to name a few.  I graduated from the Juvenile Officer’s School at L.S.U. and studied Criminal Justice at L.S.U.-E.

Response to a question

I have been sent a message asking this question.

"All these cops that come in with the above the world attitude and disrespect for those in the community. When I was growing up cops were respected and looked up too. I can’t say that now. How will you fix that."

The question is not an easy one to answer in short, the problem is not one that can be "fixed" quickly.  Here is my response.

I have said before, Respect is something you must earn.  Police officers will earn respect by treating people with dignity and paying the respect that is due them.  Only when officers can do this will they be respected by the community.

Here’s that word "community" again.  I firmly believe that the best officers reside in and live with the people of the community.  They need to know the people of the community.  Knowing the community they work in and for makes a huge difference in an officer’s interaction with that community.  This, I have learned from experience. 

Another solution to the issue of respect is training.  More training is needed in the area of public relations.  Our officers should be trained in their professional interactions and personal interactions with the people of the community.

The best training that can be attained by an officer is through observance of the officer’s supervises and leadership.  I believe our officers do and will follow the examples set by their leaders.  We must lead by example.

Finally, hiring of officers who display a quality of respect to others, as well as respect for himself will eventually change the attitudes of the officers and the public’s attitude toward the officers.  A strong force of Reserve Officers not only increase police protection and service to the city, but is also a good vetting ground.  A reserve officer can be observed and scrutinized for his interactions, professionalism and other traits before hiring as a full time officer.

I hope this response has satisfactorily answered your question.  These are all issues I have been speaking of recently and I believe to be of utmost concern to the citizens of Eunice.

I will always remember to pay respect in order to receive respect, and we can all interact With Respect to ALL.

What Does the Police Motto Mean?

To Protect and To Serve. Do you want your police department to be nothing more than a law enforcement agency, in existence only to enforce laws, write tickets and make arrests?  Or do you expect more from your police department? I think the police motto explains what we all expect the role of a police department to be.

Protection is not afforded to the people alone, but all entities, including our local businesses, groups, or other lawful gatherings of the people.  In the September 22, 2013 edition of The Eunice News, Chief Dies was quoted as saying, “We are sworn to protect and serve the public, not private business.” He later reiterated the same statement at a Eunice City Council Meeting.

I disagree with that statement.  Private businesses are part of the “public”.  Private businesses pay taxes, as do individuals, for the same protections.  Should we not protect private properties because they are not the the “public.” We cannot limit who or what we should protect.  We should protect ALL, individuals, businesses and property.

Let’s take a look at the word Serve.  Again, the motto does not suggest who our police department should serve so I would take that to mean that ALL should be served.  All who are protected should also be served.  Now, how does a police department serve? It should serve by protecting. It should serve those in need. It should serve city government, local charities, organizations and businesses.  All of these are the people.

The motto also does not say how the police should serve.  I would think then, that the police should serve in any way necessary and possible to make our lives in Eunice as safe, comfortable and pleasant as possible.  When questioned recently at a meeting of the Eunice Advisory Committee, Chief Dies remarked that he felt it was not a duty of the police department to teach children and others right from wrong or how they should behave.

Although I do agree with him that it is a family responsibility, I think the police department can serve a vital role by being involved with the schools and providing some forum to educate the family.  Our police department is a part of our community.  To some it may not always appear so, but it is.  Our police department and the public should meet and interact with one another just as two members of a community would.  Always willing to help each other out when in need, communicate in a manner befitting of two members of the community and protecting the integrity of that relationship.

I have listened to questions being asked at the Eunice Advisory Committee meeting and the answers of the chief indicated to me that he simply sees our police department as a Law Enforcement agency.  Our police department should be more than just a law enforcement agency.  It does not exist for the sole purpose of enforcing laws, writing tickets or making arrests.  Is that what you want your police department to be, simply a law enforcement agency?

My final thought on the Motto is that our police department should Protect ALL and Serve ALL, in any way that safely meets the needs of our community.  And, we can do it with Respect to ALL.

What Do You Expect?

Many times two people do not “expect” the same. Expect the same action, Expect the same reaction or Expect the same result.  People are different and have different expectations.  But, when it comes to interactions between between our police officers and the public, it would be very helpful if all involved knew what to expect and what is expected.

This is one of the underlying reasons the Eunice Advisory Committee was created by the Eunice City Council some time ago.  The committee was formed to review, discuss and report back to the City Council on issues of concern to the citizenry of Eunice.  Suggestions or recommendations were to be brought before the council that would, hopefully, improve the public relations of the various service departments and the citizens.

One such recommendation was made to the city council by the advisory committee early last year.  It was recommended that the Chief of Police briefly discuss, at each meeting of the Council, a topic that would educate the public in their interactions with the police department.  The recommendation was the result of several incidents which became issues at then recent council meetings. The hope was that the monthly public education topics would improve relations between the public and the police department.

Since this recommendation was offered early last year, only one such presentation was made by our police chief.  The message conveyed in this presentation was that we should be nice to the officers, respect the officers and do as they tell you. I do not totally disagree with this sentiment. Now, what would I expect? I would expect that the chief also explained to the police officers that they should be nice to and treat the public with respect and perform their duties professionally.

I fully support the recommendation made by the Eunice Advisory Committee and sincerely believe the presentations suggested could be a great benefit to both the public and our our police department and could do a lot toward improving public relations.  Not only would I, as Chief of Police, present at the monthly council meetings, but also during personnel meetings and trainings of the police department.

There are many topics that could be addressed, for example; what to expect during a traffic stop, at a crime scene, or when filing a complaint.  Police officers should also be trained in what is expected of them at each of these situations.  Mutual knowledge and consistency may be the key to better relations.

There is one thing I know we all do expect, and that’s RESPECT…For ALL!