December 19, 2018
Though I announced my retirement in February, I none-the-less felt it appropriate to draft this memo to document my previously stated intent; specifically, that at the conclusion of 36 years as an officer with the Riley County Police Department, I intend to retire. My last working day will be December 31, 2018.
To the people of RCPD: As others who have gone through this have warned, I find the prospect bittersweet. I have maintained for quite some time that there are a lot of very bright people at RCPD and as a result, the Department will be in good hands. Knowing this makes transitioning to retirement easy in some respects, but no less difficult in others. I will miss the friends and professional relationships that I’ve developed over the years. We have experienced joy and disappointment together, but I firmly believe that the department is what it is due in large part to your efforts. Each of you as individuals shape the department in your own unique way and as a result, the department has grown tremendously over the years. And while it’s true that this growth has encompassed such mundane matters as the budget and the number of personnel, it is equally true of the department’s demeanor as evidenced by our interactions with the public. While no organization is perfect, I am proud to have observed a fundamental shift in those interactions since my time as a young officer. I have occasion to review numerous videos of those interactions and am easily able to conclude that we genuinely treat with people with respect and hold each other accountable to that standard, often in trying circumstances. Dispatchers, Officers, Corrections staff, Clerical personnel – everyone; please know that this has not gone unnoticed by the public. I am regularly stopped while out and about town (as recently as last week) by someone who recognizes me and wants to express their thanks that the police here are different than the police where they are from. When people tell me this they invariably speak of RCPD employees treating everyone with respect. Your efforts have made my job easier over the years and have helped mold public perception of the Riley County Police Department as an organization whose people are genuinely interested in serving the community they strive so diligently to protect. Thank you for your efforts on the department’s behalf.
To the public: The people of RCPD never cease to be amazed at your regard for us. While this regard is most evident during the holiday season when people routinely stop by with treats and (occasionally) full meals for those who, by virtue of their service to the community, are unable to be with their own families; it’s not just the holidays. People will randomly (and anonymously) pay for an officer’s meal, children make posters thanking us for our service and bring them to the law enforcement center, and while I hesitate to admit it – donuts appear on a regular basis. Local businesses bring food. I’m pretty sure we eat as well as firemen and without all the cooking! And on a more fundamental level, when six Dallas, Texas Police Officers were shot and killed by a single gunman in 2016, many of us at the department were shocked and asked ourselves if we were in the right profession – me among them. But on the same day that sad news broke, I was contacted by members of the community who wanted to organize a vigil as a show of sympathy for the families of those Dallas officers as well as a show of support for police locally. So please know this, we genuinely appreciate your support. Please also know that the men and women of RCPD work long and train hard to make sure that the problems many police departments have with their communities don’t happen here. While there are no guarantees in life or in policing, we are doing what we can to be respectful of the community we serve.
And finally – to Law Boards past and present: I’ve always viewed myself as a “transitional” Director of RCPD. It was my belief, and remains so, that while the department has grown since its inception in 1974, and certainly since my hire in 1983, there was still room for improvement. I viewed it as my responsibility to develop the department into an organization capable of growing as community needs dictate; having already established the programs, concepts, training regimen, and supervisory structure necessary to do so when the time comes. While I’ve had the great good fortune that the department has changed for the better with regard to these matters during my tenure as Director, let me be clear that they didn’t happen because I was the Director. In fact, they would not have happened absent the dedicated service, hard work, integrity and perseverance of everyone involved. For my part, I will always appreciate, but was never surprised, by the effort put in behind the scenes to make these and other improvements happen.
As a result, the department is now the consolidated communications center for all emergency services dispatching in Riley County, our training philosophy has changed dramatically and for the better with the adoption of reality and scenario based training, and the department has made better use of its limited resources by moving to an Intelligence Led Policing model which identifies problem people and locations and then focuses those resources appropriately. The department was also among the first in the State to adopt training intended to prevent bias based policing, and to develop a Community Advisory Board comprised of community members whose function is to provide community input into department operations. Finally, the department’s recent hire of two mental health advocates has done much to serve those with mental illness who might otherwise find themselves confined in jail for want of advocates whose job is to prevent just such an occurrence. These are but a few examples of the sort of innovation and commitment to doing the right thing to which the department aspires.
I wish to express my thanks to Law Boards past and present, for their support of the department’s endeavors in this regard. Absent that support, these events would not have come to pass.
The department’s mission statement reads:
“To reduce crime and improve the quality of life for the citizens we serve.”
It is what we do. It is who we are. I want to take this last opportunity to thank each and every one of you; community members, employees, board members past and present. You have all played a role in making the department what it is – and make no mistake, it is your department. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with you and I remain optimistic for the future of the Riley County Police Department.