The Sedona Police Department has experienced some significant changes since the retirement of Chief Joe Vernier in January 2010. Prior to my appointment as Chief of Police in July 2010, Chief Deputy Jim Driscoll of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department served as the interim police chief. The members of this community have benefited greatly from the contributions of these fine public safety professionals and should be well assured that they positioned the police department soundly to move forward under new leadership.
In the past five months I have had the opportunity to meet and interact with every member of the police department and have spent many hours observing how our officers and civilian employees provide service to the community. I have been extremely impressed with the knowledge that our employees have about the community. Many of our department members are known by name to residents, merchants, business operators, school district personnel and other community organizations throughout the city, which helps to sustain relationships that are vital in maintaining community policing partnerships. On a daily basis Sedona PD personnel are working with the community addressing safety and quality of life issues.
These efforts have resulted in keeping Sedona one of the safest communities in the State of Arizona. One of my priority goals is to develop a monthly report that will highlight various crime statistics and police activity, which will provide a good snapshot of what is occurring in the city. It is my desire to keep the community informed about crime issues, prevention and enforcement activities, and the successes that the police department achieves. Since Sedona has a low crime rate, it can sometimes be easy to drift into an apathetic opinion on police operations, which could have adverse impacts on public safety. By having an informed community, it is my hope that confidence and support of police department operations and needs will be enhanced.
Currently, under the guidance of our two Police Commanders, we are evaluating many of our systems and processes to ensure that they are operating in a productive and efficient manner. Some of these reviews include how we deploy our patrol officers, the level of training provided to our personnel, and enhancement of various computer programs. These evaluations are very important given recent reduction in force impacts that all city departments have experienced in the past two years. Although we are a smaller department than we were in 2008, it is my intent to lead us to be a more intelligence led, fiscally responsible, highly skilled and community focused organization.
In regards to being more community involved, I would like to mention a few activities that have taken place this year and some that are in progress at this time.
First, I would like to thank the community for the tremendous support given to our department members’ efforts to assist retired Sedona Police Sergeant Dave Zanot and his family as they help Dave with his battle with cancer. The members of this department worked together to organize fundraising activities and were aided greatly by local businesses. Donations from the community were extremely generous and have provided the Zanot Family with valuable assistance.
Next, you will soon see our officers, civilian personnel and volunteers working together to support Arizona Special Olympics through fun and exciting fundraising events. Many of our personnel will also be working with local businesses, local schools and other law enforcement agencies on toy drives to provide holiday presents to local deserving youth. More information on how you can support these efforts can be learned by contacting Janet Hill, Administrative Assistant at (928) 282-3102.
I also must mention that the police department is extremely fortunate to be supported by a citizen volunteer program known as the Community Police Alliance. Our volunteers are men and women from diverse backgrounds who have donated thousands of hours to provide services such as traffic control and pedestrian safety, home checks for residents away on vacation, prisoner transportation, fingerprinting, crime scene assistance, record keeping, and many other interesting tasks. In 2011, we will initiate a public campaign to gain more interest and participation in our volunteer program. I have specifically moved the oversight of this program to my office to highlight its importance to the police department and have assigned a police officer to coordinate its activities. More information about the Community Police Alliance Volunteer Program can be found on the City of Sedona’s website at www.sedonaaz.gov or by contacting Officer James Pott through the Administrative Assistant’s office at (928) 282-3102.
I am very excited about the future of the Sedona Police Department and am looking forward to new and enhanced operations and activities in 2011. You are welcome to contact me at anytime should you have a question about the police department or have a suggestion on how we can work together to provide for a safe, inviting and supportive community.