I noticed it has been almost two months since my last blog post. Wow, so much for once a week!
Seems we've been quite busy here lately. Rather than write up a separate post on each subject, I thought I'd just give the highlights here, all in one place.
Since Council approved the budget with the provision to outsource police communications, we have been working dilligently to make sure the transition is smooth and effective. Before we did anything else, we conducted a staff review of proposals from St. Petersburg and from the Pinellas County Sheriff. Although it was close, the sheriff's proposal got the staff recommendation.
I have appointed Sergeant Josh Stone to supervise the transition, and he began by attending a meeting with sheriff's command and operational staff to address important issues and establish a timeline. We are now in the process of converting GPD historical data so that it will be accessible via the new systems. Training sessions for all personnel have been scheduled, and IT folks are pouring over the hardware and software to ensure we have everything in place that we will need.
The goal is to go live on the new system on January 1, 2012.
You have likely heard that police officers will soon be tested for compliance with fitness standards. This has been a long time coming, and the process of developing the policy was very involved and meticulous. We plan to concuct the first test before the end of the year, and officers will be required to comply with the standards within nine months following that first test.
The standards consist of various exercises, including two 220-yard runs, running an obstacle course twice (climbing over a low wall, jumping hurdles of various sizes, and low-crawling for eight feet), and dragging a 150 lb. dummy 100 feet. Officers must complete the test within approximately six minutes. Since all officers must meet this standard in order to be hired in the first place, I don't think we'll have any trouble now.
New Police Cars
This is the first year in as long as I can remember that the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has not been an available option. Combined with that are the addition of some new models and some serious changes in a few others. The array of choices has made the selection process much more time consuming this year.
Ford replaced the CVPI with a Taurus-based vehicle in either front or all wheel drive and with an optional 365 horsepower, turborchaged engine. Chevrolet swapped the motor in its front-drive police Impala, so it now puts out over 300 horsepower as well. They also added a new car to the fleet--a police only Caprice, which is a rear-drive car with an optional 355 horsepower V-8. Then there is the Dodge Charger, which has been the GPD staple for several years now. The V-8 Charger continues to lead the pack in terms of performance and interior room, and it cost less than the comparable alternatives. Our conclusion this year was that we will once again replace the aging cars in our fleet with new Chargers.
In addition to the projects and cases that are specific to Gulfport, I have also become very involved in my professional organizations. I see this as very beneficial to the community, as this involvement means access to law and policy makers, funding opportunities, and many other resources to help address problems we encounter every day.
For 2011/2012, I am the chair of the Pinellas Police Standards Council, which is the body designated by the legislature to establish and maintain law enforcement standards for Pinellas County. The group consists of all police chiefs, the sheriff, and the state attorney.
In addition, I have been serving since 2010 as the secretary and treasurer of the Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Association. This is a professional networking group involving law enforcement executives from all agencies in the seven counties in the Tampa Bay region. In my capacity, I vett and diseminate all correspondence between members and the board to ensure that all are kept up to date on legislation, case law, and operational issues related to the field.
So you can see that, while crime continues to decline, we have plenty to keep us busy in providing quality service to the citizens of Gulfport. If you know of anything we may have missed, or if there is anything you'd like me to look into, please don't hesitate to let me know.