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POLICE PLAN

CASA GRANDE POLICE STRATEGIC PLAN UPDATE
    AND FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN RIGHTING THE DEPARTMENT


An update on body cams for officers is posted under SPECIAL; the initial presentation on cams made in January 2016 is posted under SPECIAL ARCHIVE


Scroll down for selection of new police chief and for earlier stories on turmoil within the CGPD

You'll find the Police Department on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/cgpolice



THE COPS DRAIN
City Council wants to know why officers are leaving Police Department




The critical management study of the Police Department 

and the department's action plan response are HERE


The Police Department's strategic plan is HERE


The former chief's presentation to the City Council is HERE

A sense of community, a feeling of welcome from city, new police chief says

(Posted Feb. 17, 201)


You can watch the video of McCrory speaking to the City Council HERE, clicking on Item H.



He and his wife are continually impressed with "the sense of community and the feeling of welcome" from Casa Grande, new Police Chief Mark McCrory told the City Council during Tuesday night's meeting.

McCrory, former assistant chief in Tulsa, Okla., replaces Chris Vasquez, who had been directing the department on an interim basis since shortly after the abrupt departure of Chief Johnny Cervantes in the middle of November 2014. Tuesday was his first appearance before the council.

"I cannot tell you all how impressed and how pleased we are with not only the city but every single person that we've met here," McCrory said, adding that he told one person, "I don't know where you have hidden the people that aren't nice, because we've not met them yet.

"The hospitality that we've received, the welcome that we have received … we're in disbelief."

Tulsa is a good community, McCrory said, "but the sense of community and the sense of welcome and the feeling of welcome that we have received in this community, not only from people within the city, from the Police Department today and this weekend when I made meetings … what a tremendous opportunity this is for us that we're thankful for and what a great choice we made to pursue this opportunity.

"And I'll take the opportunity to thank you all now, anybody that had any kind of involvement in that selection process (as chief), and just tell you from the bottom of heart that every single day that I am associated with this Police Department and this community I'm going to work to make you all realize that you made the best decision and have no regrets from the decision you made.

"We are very much looking forward, my wife and I, to becoming very active members of the community, as well as the law enforcement community surrounding in Pinal County."


Tribute paid to outgoing Interim Police Services Manager Chris Vasquez

(Posted Jan. 24, 2016)


A tribute was paid to outgoing Interim Police Services Manager Chris Vasquez during Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

Vasquez, who was passed over as permanent police chief in favor of Mark McCrory, deputy police chief in Tulsa, Okla., had been appointed as interim director in December of 2014 after the resignation of Chief Johnny Cervantes in the wake of many officers leaving, low morale in the Police Department and other internal problems because of his management.

Vasquez served 20 years with the Casa Grande Police Department, retiring as a lieutenant. He then went to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office and was later elected county sheriff.

During council reports at the end of Monday's meeting, Councilman Dick Powell said, "The other thing I want to do is thank Chris Vasquez for what he has done for our community.

"He took on a hard job. We had a disgruntled, disorganized police component and he went in and restored unity and trust.

"And this whole community, Chris, is really appreciative of the interim job you've done and we won't forget what you've done.

"I wish you well, but I want to sincerely thank you for all the good things you've done in the last year for us."

There was applause from the audience.

McCrory is expected to take over as chief in February.


Tulsa, Okla., deputy police chief named new chief of Casa Grande PD

(Posted Jan. 5, 2016)


The city issued this announcement today:


After an extensive search, City Manager Jim Thompson has selected Mark McCrory, now deputy chief of the Tulsa, Okla., Police Department, to serve as Casa Grande Police Department’s new chief. 

McCrory is expected to begin serving in his new position in February. As police chief, he will be responsible for the management of a $15.7 million operational budget and the supervision of 121 employees.

The selection comes after a thorough and transparent interview process, which included participation from multiple members of the Casa Grande Police Department, elected officials and the community.

“We had an excellent group of talented candidates that we interviewed for this position,” Thompson said. “Throughout this process, Mark consistently rose to the top as the outstanding finalist and we are fortunate to have him serve as Casa Grande’s new police chief. 

"I am certain that he will bring the same level of dedication and leadership to the Casa Grande Police Department as he did in Tulsa.”

In Tulsa, McCrory gained more than 33 years of law enforcement experience. In that capacity, he demonstrated the solid leadership experience necessary to command multiple divisions, allocate multimillion-dollar budgets, and direct operations for over 900 sworn and civilian personnel. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy as well as the Senior Management Institute of Policing.

“I am both proud and excited to be granted this opportunity to become the next chief of police of the Casa Grande Police Department,” McCrory said. “During the selection process, my wife and I had the pleasure to meet some outstanding people from the community, city leadership and from within the police department.

"Shelly and I look forward to becoming established members of both the law enforcement and Casa Grande communities.”


Scroll down for what McCrory and other candidates said during a public meeting


(CG NEWS note: The other candidates were Chris Vasquez, a former CGPD officer, former Pinal County deputy sheriff and former Pinal County sheriff, who was appointed temporarily after the upheaval in the department caused by former chief Johnny Cervantes, who cleaned out his office one night and did not return; Capt. Angel Leos, now with the CGPD, and Roy Bermudez, assistant chief of the Nogales, Ariz., Police Department.)


Police chief finalist list down to two -- Vasquez of CG, McCrory of Tulsa

(Posted Dec. 11, 2015)


Scroll down for transcript of what the two finalists told the community meeting on Dec. 8. Below that is what the other two finalists said.


The city issued this announcement today:


The city of Casa Grande has selected two of the four police chief finalists to proceed with the final stage of the recruitment process. 

Following an extensive two-day interview for the finalists, which included department forums, panels, interviews and a meet and greet with the public, Chris Vasquez and Mark McCrory have been chosen to proceed with background and reference checks. 

Chris Vasquez is interim director of police services for the Casa Grande Police Department and McCrory  is deputy chief of police for the Tulsa (Okla.) Police Department.

Vasquez, interim director of police services since December 2014, served in the department for 20 years before retiring and then spending seven years with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office where he served as chief deputy, bureau commander and later as elected sheriff. He has a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix.

McCrory has been deputy chief of the Tulsa department since 2005. He joined the department as an officer in 1982, working his way through the ranks to fill multiple leadership roles. He has a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

The other two finalists were:

• Joe Angel Leos Jr., captain for the Casa Grande Police Department since March 2015. Prior to joining CGPD, Leos spent 26 years with the Arizona Department of Public Safety where he held several command positions and completed multiple assignments as interim chief.  He has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in science of human relations from Northern Arizona University.

• Roy Bermudez, assistant police chief for the Nogales, Ariz., Police Department since 2007. Bermudez also served as a patrol/investigations lieutenant and police captain since joining the Nogales Police Department in 1997.   He has a bachelor’s degree in public safety with a specialization in emergency management from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minn.

The review committee evaluated 51 applicants prior to selecting the four finalists. The initial review process consisted of a writing exercise and telephone interview with a selection committee. 

The city manager hopes to have the selected candidate on board in early 2016. 

The police chief manages a $15.7 million operational budget and supervises 121 sworn officers and civilian employees to serve more than 55,000 Casa Grande residents.


What the two finalists said during a community meeting
The transcripts are from comments directly about policing philosophies and what should be done

(Posted Dec. 11, 2015)


CHRIS VASQUEZ

Interim police services manager, Casa Grande


Why Casa Grande? Why do I want to be the next chief of police of the city of Casa Grande?

I was born here. I was raised in Eloy, but I born here, most of my adult life has been spent inside the city of Casa Grande.

Of my 38 years in law enforcement, 30 years has been devoted to serving this community and working in the Casa Grande Police Department in various forms or another.

The way I see it, I have an investment here. I have an investment in this community. I have an investment to make sure that we have a Police Department that is functioning and providing the best quality of law enforcement services to keep them safe, and not only them but also you and your family and the rest of the community.

The Police Department is an organization that I grew up in. It's a Police Department that made me who I am today. It molded me as a police officer that I am. It molded me into the manager and the leader that I had become when I retired here in 1996 as a lieutenant.

I took those skills and I worked at the Sheriff's Office, where I was a captain, chief deputy and ultimately the sheriff of the county where the buck stopped. I had experience and the training and background to lead a law enforcement agency. I've done the job. I had about eight years of experience (at the Sheriff's Office) and got a lot accomplished in that.

I remember Casa Grande when I first started was a town of about 10,000 people, it was small. And we had small town issues, we had small town crime.

Today, there are about 55,000 people and I only see it growing and getting bigger. The next four or five, six years we could be anywhere from 75,000 to 80,000 people.

I just want to make sure that we don't do things like we did back when I started, having a small town mentality, a small town approach to doing law enforcement. We have to grow up as an agency. We have to start thinking on a bigger scale, on a grander scale on how we approach law enforcement.

The criminals aren't the fellows that we had that would be homegrown and hung around here like they did back then. Now, the criminals are coming not only from all around the county but they're coming from Phoenix, they're coming from Tucson and they're coming from California. These criminals are more sophisticated, they're affiliated with gangs and they're coming into our city.

We have to rise to the level where we can be bigger, better, stronger, smarter than the very people we want to put in jail.

When I left the Police Department in 1996 as a lieutenant, many of these programs that we have today I brought to the Casa Grande Police Department: Citizens on Patrol, Community on Patrol, National Night Out, Crime-free Multihousing. It had a huge success in getting the crime rate to drop. I brought those same programs to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office when I was there. I have a history of success there. I'd like to bring that back to the Casa Grande police. 

I can think outside the box, I'm innovative and if the challenges are to be met as a community and as the Police Department I think that I have the leadership skills to motive and to inspire our department to go from small town to greatness, to achieve our goals and our mission in a big way.


MARK McCRORY

Deputy police chief, Tulsa, Okla.


My desire to move is pretty simple for me, and people don't understand that.

I've had a good career in Tulsa, make no bones about the fact that I love Tulsa.

But I need challenge, I'm ready for new opportunity, I'm ready for new challenges and new experiences. 

What I found out from researching the (CG) Police Department is some of the goals and some of the things that this city and this city and this community and this Police Department desires to improve in their agency: reduce crime and increase traffic safety, improve on the effective communication both inside and outside the Police Department, improve on the retention efforts to keep the good officers and recruitment efforts for what openings do exist, and to enhance the training and organizational growth within the department.

Those are my strengths. I'm operations minded, I have good experience in that. In my current department we have nine (rank of) majors and six of them are my direct report and my other two deputy chiefs peers are also my direct reports. So I am very good at allowing officers to be challenged and I'm very good at mentoring officers.

No matter who's the chief, you have to be able to mentor them, you have to be able to communicate with them, you have to be able to train them and put them in a position that challenges them to get better, so that no matter who is in the department, who's running the department from the top, that the leadership will be in place.

That fits with my strength, I do that, I'm very comfortable doing that, I enjoy doing that.

Where will you be if I'm chosen? I think it goes without question — and I'm not saying that in a bragging manner — I have experience, I have experience in working with other agencies in mutual crime prevention strategies, I have experience in setting up crime prevention strategies within our department to take care of gang issues, narcotics issues, homeless issues, I work very close with business developers in our city in an effort to revitalize our downtown area, had great success in that, I understand the importance that public safety plays in economic development and I think sometimes that's overlooked, I'm comfortable in that.

You'll get a leader who leads with three primary principles, and I don't waver from these:

• I'm a firm believer that organizational and person integrity should never be compromised.

• I'm a firm believer that make the police feel valued and allow for their input whenever possible.

• I'm also a firm believer that you treat everyone in a fair and consistent manner, no matter what their rank, position within the department.

That allows for me as a chief to have more of a leadership style that's adaptable to different situations, different generations, different types of people, different people with different expectations. By keeping to those three principles I will also lead in a fair and consistent manner.

You'll get someone who will lead in the community, should have a voice in how they're made safe. I'm open to talking to community members, to talk to the stakeholders in the community. I strongly believe that they should have a voice.

I believe in forming with all the chiefs and partnerships prior to a crisis. When a crisis is hit, everybody that's wearing a uniform wants to be your friend to keep things calm, no matter what size the crisis. I'm a firm believer that those partnerships and those trust-based relationships need to be formed without a crisis being at hand.

I'm someone who encourages critique and comments from the community and department, as long as it's based on facts. That's a big thing for me.

And it's my responsibility as a chief and it's my officers' responsibility as members of a good organization to make sure that the public is provided with factual information to make those decisions.

What would my priorities be?

I'm not someone who's going to come down here and make changes for change sake. For those in the audience that are members of the Police Department, it's not going to be my Police Department, it's going to our Police Department, it's going to be one that we're proud of, it's going to be one that we sit down and talk about with community members, people from all levels of our organizations and city leadership and decide what kind of a department we want, that we can be proud of.

Any changes that are made — and there's going to be changes made at some point, we all know that no matter who gets this job — will be explained to every officer to the best of my ability. I'll explain why a change needs to be made, I'll allow some input, I will clearly outline my expectations that we're going to get from that change and together we'll set up a mechanism to review that change to make sure that it meets for us the criteria that we want.

For the first six months out, one of my priorities is going to be to know that status quo of this agency. And I know there's people up here with me that have a great head start on me on that, and I understand that. And all I can tell anybody, the naysayers, those people who maybe have a little doubt, is that I'm not going to pick up my family and move to Arizona to fail. You're going to get a hundred percent effort from me a hundred percent of the time. I'm going to expect that from my officers, and when I expect thus from them, they're going to have to see the best of me every day. 

And I'm going to take that initial time to get to know stakeholders in the community, get to know the city leadership, discuss with them their priorities and what they think the department ought to look like and I'm going to talk to the officers and see what their priorities are. I want to know what the Police Department thinks about the Police Department and what changes need to be made and ways that we can work together and make this department move forward.

Just because there's no problems in the Police Department, just because there's no issues in the Police Department, does not mean that there's not a need for some sort of change. It can remain stagnant, then you'll be stagnant. 

And I will tell you that the officers that I have talked to since I've been down here are very proud of their affiliations with the Police Department, they're very proud of this community and I reminds me as to why we all want to be law enforcement executives, is to have people like that work with us. So the community as a whole ought to be proud at least of the officers that I have talked to.


Priorities

• My big push that I think that this city needs with their Police Department is if you ask officers to combat crime and increase public safety, you have to make sure they have the tools to do the job. And one of my priorities will be to get real-time information to our officers so that that they have a start every day with the mission in mind.

You have to become more effective and more efficient as we're asked to do more and more things.

• The second leg of that stool would be community involvement. I really and truly believe that a police department cannot be good without the support of its community. And you cannot get the support of the community without becoming involved with the community, listening to what the community has to say and working with them to solve problems and long time issues.

• Third and final priority that I would have would be officer wellness. Our officers — I don't care if you're from Tulsa, Okla., New York City, here or wherever — are tasked every day with more and more responsibility with less and less resources. They're called upon to be drug counselors, marriage counselors, finance consultants, MMA Fighters sometimes, track stars at other times. And they're asked to do more and more things, and what that does is it has an impact on the officers.

So officer wellness, as trivial as that may sound, is a very, very big priority with me, because officers have to be not only physically fit but mentally fit and have the resources available to them to do what we ask of them.


What the other two finalists said
    Comments on policing philosophy and how a department should be run

(Posted Dec. 12, 2015)


Capt. Angel Leos

Commander of CGPD's Support Services Division, earlier career with Arizona Department of Public Safety 


We have a great department, we have a lot of dedicated, lot of talented individuals in civilian ranks and sworn ranks for the city of Casa Grande.

They go out daily to reduce crime, they go out daily to go out and reach out to the community. I don't think we show that enough for them, the appreciation for them. 

We don't have a lot of resources, so we need to strategically plan in an efficient way, having the data, having the intelligence for the police to let you know who is committing crimes, where they're at, what time.

I'm honored to be with this agency, I know what they need.

One thing I want to tell them (PD personnel) is that I will be very transparent. I think you've seen that already. I'm very approachable, I'm open to communication.

I've empowered my detectives, my patrolmen, I want them making decisions on the lowest level. They don't need to come to me, they need to make the decisions out there. I want to empower them.

Also, the civilian (department employees). The civilians are very important. I have the volunteers, that's one of the best things about my division is the volunteers. I'm going to expand their role, expand their role to take calls that traditionally police officers take to free the Patrol officers and go out there and concentrate on proactive work, those crimes that need immediate attention. The volunteers commit a lot of hours and we just need to expand their role.

I'm going to expect my officers and the civilians every day to come up with the department's mission.

We talk about community policing. Currently I think our PIO and our volunteers do that. Well, that has to change. Our patrolmen with the citizens that they contact need to sell the department, need to sell the city's mission. They need to be out there, go into the school, go into businesses, introduce themselves. (when filling in in Douglas, Ariz.) I made my patrolmen and my civilians go out there and meet with the citizens, the schools, introduce themselves so they could know who their officers are.

If my officers are going to be reassigned or if they want to be promoted, one of the things they have to be doing is showing me is what kind of community involvement they have with the youth. That is going to be something they're going have to do to get those assignments, these special assignments, or to get those promotions. They're going to show that they have given back to the community, given back to the youth. That way, they become involved with the community and really know them. The youth I think is something I'm really going to focus on, that's our future. If we're not there being their mentors, the drug dealers and the gangbangers will be out there doing that, taking our place.

I take a holistic view. Coming from the state Department of Public Safety I'm bringing a lot of resources, I'm bringing a lot of contacts that the city is taking advantage of now that I'm bringing and using as a division commander. I look forward to being your chief.


(Posted Dec. 12, 2015)



Roy Bermudez

Assistant chief of police, Nogales (Ariz.) Police Department


I see a lot of opportunity (in Casa Grande). By researching and talking to members of the department I see so much talent, internal talent, within the department to meet the goals that need to be developed.

My goal in Casa Grande is just like my goal in Nogales, is to develop my officers. My motto is to encourage education and promote excellence.

And how are we going to do that? We're going to do that by developing our officers by providing a career path so the officers will not leave. That's part of the retention program. Once an officer sees that there's a dead end, that they can't go anywhere — it's obvious that they have a family to feed, they have a mission, they have dreams, they have goals — and so they're going to leave and go to greener pastures.

My promise to you is that it's not going to get any greener elsewhere. My commitment to you is I'm going to try my hardest to retain talent here in Casa Grande, because the last thing I want is for this to be a training ground.

I know what it feels like to come up through an agency only to encounter robots. Those robots could be because of a lack of communication, lack of trust, lack of transparency. And that shouldn't be the case.

I'm a very trusting person. I'm a believer of accountability. 

My office was left open when I left and came to Casa Grande. My office is open because I'm a very trusting person, I'm a transparent person. Whatever is on my desk anybody can see, whatever is on my computer everybody can see, anybody that wants to see my phone (messages) I'll gladly give it them and they can see what I have in there. I don't hide anything, I'm very transparent with my relationships, and that's the way a chief of police should be — transparent with professional and transparent with personal relationships, not only with the officers, but with the community itself.

As a chief of police, I'm not one-dimensional. I like cooperation, because without cooperation we can't achieve anything.

When we get to the community, a community survives on economic development. And my responsibility is to make sure that I nurture economic development, sell economic development. 

I have a lot of experience working with a diverse population. Born and raised in Nogales. For the last 31 years in law enforcement I've had the opportunity to encounter two languages, two cultures, two economies and two nations.

We need to change the image of Casa Grande. Even though it's not a border town, it has a lot of border issues of drugs, burglaries, property crimes. That's where I specialize. I have already-set relationships with federal, state and county counterparts. We're rich when it comes to cooperation. We're surrounded by the tri cities, by Eloy, Coolidge, Maricopa and Pinal County itself, we're surrounded by three tribal nations. So cooperation is very important in order to survive, in order to make sure that we're consistent in what we're enforcing, we're consistent in our programs, we're consistent in economic development.

(CG News note: An explanation for the statement below of working for 13 chiefs is that Nogales at one time had the strong mayor form of government. Each time a new mayor came in he appointed his own people to run departments, such as police, ousting the former department head.)

I want to make sure that the Police Department is up to its full potential. I want to make sure that we manage the expectations of the public. One of the strengths that I have is that I worked for 13 chiefs of police, I worked with 14 mayors, and so I know the liabilities, the political liabilities, if you will, that are involved in that and the importance of building solid relationships with a city manager, with a deputy city manager, with the mayor, with the councilmen. And most important, with my own department.

I'm a firm believer that I need to lead by example, and I will never ask of my officers anything that I wouldn't do myself.

We've (as police) been leading all this time the wrong way. All these years — I've been in law enforcement, again for 31 years — we've been giving our community what we think our community needs. 

Everybody talks about community policing. What is community policing? It's to increase and better the quality of life for our citizens and diminish the fear of crime. That's fine, but that's a buzz word. Unless we implement it, then we're not doing anything for the community. We can use that to obtain money through grants or basically give our community lip service, but we're not doing anybody any favors. We really need to get into things, into these neighborhoods that nobody wants to go into.

Technology has been our best friend and our worst enemy, because nowadays we can tweet, we can Facebook and every other thing that you can imagine that I'm not familiar with but my daughters are. That's our failure, because we fail to go back to a foundation where we started, we fail to get out of our cars, we fail to handshake, we fail to find out what is it that we can do for you, are we up to par, are we meeting your expectations? If we're not meeting your expectations, then why, why not, and what do you suggest that we do to meet your expectations?

It's little things like that that's going to regain that trust that we're losing as a law enforcement culture right now,  especially right now with all animosity towards law enforcement in general. It doesn't make a difference if you're working in Casa Grande, Tucson or Tulsa, Okla., we're all bad people in the eyes of many. 

We need to build that great relationship with media, because media can be our best friend or they can be our worst enemy. And we need sell the city of Casa Grande, we need to make sure that positive things come out here, we need to cooperate with department directors. It's not only about the Police Department, because at the end of the day, if there's issues with our roads or issues with our infrastructure, you don't go back and say, well, it's the Street Department, or it's the Water Department or it's the Recreation Department. It's the city, and we need to change that perception, we need to change that image, because we're responsible as a whole.

As a police chief, my experience has been that the police chief is basically the leader of the department heads, because he has only so many resources. We need to cooperate, because we're the ones that go out there and talk to individual residents, businesses. We could come back and find out and share that information with our department heads as far as to is there a deficiency with our infrastructure, is there programs that we need to put in place, is there ordinances that we need to put in place to reduce blight, to reduce abandoned buildings.

I know that we're having a problem with Circle Ks closing and being boarded up. That's just a mess waiting to harbor criminal elements. We need to talk to these business people, business owners, property owners and find innovative ways to make use of that property.

I know that the (Casa Grande) mayor has talks with the faith-based organizations about homeless. How do we reduce crime? We reduce crime by being involved in homeless situations and adapting and cooperating with faith-based organizations, with civic organizations. We need to fight truancy, we need to help with unemployment.

There are so many things (as chief) I could do. I have so many talents that I want to bring. It's time that I put my talents to work and you will be the beneficiaries in the city of Casa Grande as a new police chief.


Public meet the chief search finalists session on Dec. 8 at City Hall

(Posted Dec. 3, 2015)


The city issued this announcement today:


Casa Grande will host a “meet and greet” event with the four police chief finalists on Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 6:30-8 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall, 510 E. Florence Blvd.

The event is open to all members of the community and will provide an opportunity for each finalist to introduce himself and address the public. Afterwards, attendees will be able to chat and visit with the finalists.

They are Chris Vasquez, interim director of police services for the Casa Grande Police Department; Capt. Joe Angel Leos Jr. of the Casa Grande department; Roy Bermudez, assistant police chief for the Nogales, Ariz.,  Police Department; Mark McCrory, deputy chief of police for the Tulsa, Okla., Police Department.


Four finalists -- two local -- will interview of police chief position

(Posted Nov. 25, 2015)


The city issued this announcement today:


Casa Grande has selected four finalists to interview for police chief position on Dec. 8 and 9 at City Hall. 

They are:

Chris Vasquez, interim director of police services for the Casa Grande Police Department since December 2014. Vasquez, served in the department for 20 years before retiring, also spent seven years with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office where he served as chief deputy, bureau commander, and as elected sheriff. He has a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix.

• Joe Angel Leos Jr., captain for the Casa Grande Police Department since March 2015. Prior to joining CGPD, Leos spent 26 years with the Arizona Department of Public Safety where he held several command positions and completed multiple assignments as interim chief.  He has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in science of human relations from Northern Arizona University.

• Roy Bermudez, assistant police chief for the Nogales, Ariz., Police Department since 2007. Bermudez also served as a patrol/investigations lieutenant and police captain since joining the Nogales Police Department in 1997.   He has a bachelor’s degree in public safety with a specialization in emergency management from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minn.

• Mark McCrory, deputy chief for the Tulsa, Okla., Police Department since 2005. McCrory joined the Tulsa department as an officer in 1982, where he quickly worked his way through the ranks to fill multiple leadership roles. He has a bachelor’s degree in administration of justice from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

The review committee evaluated 51 applicants prior to selecting the four finalists. The initial review process consisted of a writing exercise and telephone interview with a selection committee. The city manager hopes to have the selected candidate on board in early 2016. The police chief manages a $15.7 million operational budget and supervises 121 employees to serve more than 55,000 Casa Grande residents.


Police Department begins testing body cameras for Patrol Division officers

(Posted Oct. 7, 2015)


The Police Department issued this announcement today:


The Casa Grande Police Department has implemented a pilot program testing body worn cameras for use by patrol officers. 

The department, based on a successful completion of the trial test, plans to move forward with the purchase of body worn cameras to outfit the entire Patrol Division which consists of approximately 38 officers.

Over the past year, CGPD, along with city of Casa Grande Information Technology staff, has conducted research into different companies who make and sell body worn cameras for law enforcement. Recently, we outfitted two of our patrol officers with test cameras.

Our goal is to provide our training officers the opportunity to test the equipment for functionality and durability. 

The camera purchase will ultimately be for a total of 40 cameras, although due to current budget restraints we plan to make an initial purchase of only 10 cameras and then 10 more per year for the next three years. 

The first 10 cameras will be issued throughout various shifts and squads in the department in an effort to gain as much exposure to the officers and public as possible.

Interim Police Services Manager Chris Vasquez stated “Our overall goal is to provide transparency and accountability in our daily interaction with the citizens of our community. The cameras will record most interactions with citizens and can influence both the behavior of officers and those they encounter in a positive way, and as a result, reduce the potential for use of force and complaints.” 

All officers will be trained on the use of cameras and will be required to upload the videos to a cloud-based storage system using a docking station at the department headquarters. 

The CGPD will finalize all policies regarding body worn cameras and a strict adherence to those policies and state legislated public retention laws will be utilized for maintaining video in storage.


Once a policy is hashed out, Casa Grande police officers will get body cams

At left is the type of body cam worn in the Los Angeles Police Department.


(Posted Sept. 26, 2015)



A Casa Grande Dispatch story on what other area cities are doing about body cams is HERE. A brief mention is made about Casa Grande.



Back in April of this year, the Casa Grande Police Advisory Board was told that the Police Department was making a move toward equipping officers with body cameras, joining a trend across the nation.

Acting chief Chris Vasquez said the department had submitted a proposal, including funding, to bring in body cams over a five-year period.

He said that while final costs not not yet firm, "I think for the five-year cost it was $100,000 over a five-year period. If we were going to buy them just for Patrol officers all at one time it would be over $100,000."

Capt. Reginald Winston, who commands the Patrol Division, added that, "When we look at body cameras it takes a lot of research on our part in order to implement something like that, because we not only look at the system itself but the data storage, the cost involved and how it affects our community with that additional cost.

"It does take a lot of research to implement a new program and we don't want to provide something to our community members and find out six months later this isn't really what we were looking for, it's not serving the purpose."

Fast forward to now.

Although a grant has been received to begin purchasing the cams, studying all of the legal ramifications and other issues and setting a policy is still in progress, City Manager Jim Thompson said during an interview with CG News.

Among the questions are, what kind of security is needed, who in the city would be allowed to access the videos, what parts of them could be released to the public, how much will the storage of cam videos cost, given the massive amount of space they use, how long must they be stored.

"The biggest thing is to roll out a policy before we start instituting cams," Thompson said.

"I think that's the challenge, because there's been some recent rulings out of courts, in particular in New York City the courts intervened a little bit and had some discussion regarding them and we'll continue to see that, so we're going to roll out something that protects everyone's interests."

Among questions, Thompson continued, is "whether or not the officer can access that video at any given time to write his report or to do otherwise, should they be given access or should it only be held for an investigation or a review of an incident that occurred?

"And, when to turn them on, who has look-only ability and  to what level do they have that ability?

"All those questions are out there and I think that we're probably going to go more conservative, as we tend to, until we see how litigation rolls out."

Among areas still being studied, Thompson said, are:

• What can be released to the public and when?

• Storage issue is a cost issue, how much storage will be provided? Are videos store off-site, or on the cloud? On the cloud, videos must be encrypted. What level of encryption is another question. Will there need to be cloud storage, backed up by on-side storage or a separate off-site area?

• Do officers share cameras or are they assigned directly to an officer for his use only.

• On what calls do officers turn on a camera, when do they turn it off?

• Or, will they always be on?

• If officers are wearing cameras, are the on-board cameras in patrol cars still needed, or will both be used?

Privacy issues are a concern and need to be set into any policy.

"It goes back to what you can release and not release if there's an inquiry as to it," Thompson said, "because you've got victims that you don't tend to want to share that information, certain privacy rights that those individuals have. 

"You enter people's homes, and are you going to allow that to be released and to what level, or are you only going to allow what's releasable in the public areas and to what extent.

"If you're in a public area and now all of a sudden you're filmed, what's the expectation of the bystanders and other things, having their pictures and information released? Then you have to go in and redact things.

"So all of those things you try to contain, and the list goes on and on."

A well thought out policy is essential, Thompson said, "because that first challenge you have will be that gray area or the area that you didn't define and then you may find yourself in a bad situation where the law rules on the opposite side. And maybe you have a good arrest that you're going after a conviction and then all of a sudden something in your policy drove it to now be unsubmittable or otherwise unavailable to be utilized as part of your evidence, which is maybe your best evidence that you have.

"So, we want to make sure we do it as conservative as we can, but in an appropriate manner when we roll it out.

"I think that's a challenge, because it is somewhat new and so there isn't a proven system that's been out there for a few years. I think that's where the Police Department is trying to walk through now, walk through cautiously, so we do the best job we can upfront but knowing that it's ever-changing, it's a new technology and a new usage that we haven't seen and the courts will walk through that system, I'm sure, for us."

Storage, besides the cost of it, will also have to be outlined in the policy.

"You're probably going to end up having to retain it the same that you do for most of your public records retention associated with police activities," Thompson said. If you have a situation of a high level crime like a homicide or something, those are retainable for life. You have some things that you have to retain for a long period of time."

As Thompson sees it, "It isn't where we're not going to have body cameras. That seems to be where we need to be and that's the newest and best technology available to us. 

"We're moving down that. We have a grant to acquire them, but we don't have grant monies to do all the other things that need to occur. It's just another expense of doing business.

"But we're going down the path and we're going to make it happen.

"It's not too far off. I think within the next 30 days they should have the policy pretty well defined, maybe 60 days. They're working hard on it."

Police chief search will continue past Sept. 17 first review date

(Posted Sept. 21, 2015)


Although the recruitment material says first review of applications would be Sept. 17, that is not a final cutoff, City Manager Jim Thompson said.

During an interview with CG News on Sept. 17, Thompson said, "We haven't done any reviews or anything yet. That's the first cut off of when they're due. That doesn't mean we start reviewing tomorrow. 

"I know that question's come in in different ways, internally as well.

"I don't think we're prepared to start reviewing tomorrow."


Former CGPD chief Johnny Cervantes a finalist for Globe position

(Posted Sept. 10, 2015)


This was posted on www.silverbelt.com, serving Globe:


Globe announces finalists for police chief


Modified: Wednesday, Sep 9th, 2015


Globe — At Tuesday's Globe City Council meeting, city manager Brent Billingsley announced the two finalists for Globe's new police chief.

The two finalists are current Superior police chief Mark Nipp, and former Casa Grande police chief Johnny Cervantes. 

Cervantes was at Tuesday's meeting, and said he also worked for 23 years for the Scottsdale Police Department. 

One Superior Town Council member reached this morning had high praise for Nipp, saying "it would be a huge loss" if Nipp were to leave for the Globe job.

Billingsley said the city is in the final part of the "vetting process" and is finalizing background checks on the two candidates. 

Councilman Lerry Alderman said a special meeting will be held next week to announce Globe's new police chief. 

Lt. Rosann Moya is currently serving as interim police chief.


City reassessing how to go about searching for a permanent police chief

JULY 30 UPDATE: No decision has yet been made on whether to use a professional search company for a permanent police chief or to do the search through the city's Human Resources Department. A study was being run on whether it would be less expensive if HR handled the search process.

"While the final decision has not been made," Deputy City Manager Larry Rains told CG News today, "based on the estimated costs we have gathered to this point, it is highly probably we will be handling this external recruitment process through our HR Department versus an executive search firm."

When a chief was being sought in 2012 to replace retiring Bob Huddleston, the outside contract cost was 

$17,500, plus another $5,000 to $6,000 in expenses. Eight firms responded, with the highest bid being $32,000 plus expenses.


JULY 2 UPDATE: It was announced today that the city is still running financial projections on how much it would cost for the chief search and related expenses if handled by the Human Resources Department versus what it would cost to hire a professional search/interviews company.


Posted June 22, 2015)


The original announcement is HERE


The cancellation notice is HERE


Casa Grande is reassessing how it will go about the search for a permanent police chief to replace Johnny Cervantes, who resigned under fire last last year.

The city had posted a general request for proposals announcement seeking an executive search company to handle advertising of the position, initial interviews and other details.

The city has now posted another announcement saying only, "This notice is to inform all firms that the City of Casa Grande has canceled the RFP for Executive Search Services. The City has decided not to move forward with the search of a firm at this time. Thank you, we appreciate your interest in doing business with the City of Casa Grande."

CG News today asked Deputy City Manager Larry Rains if the cancellation notice means that the search is off entirely, or if Chris Vasquez, who has been acting chief with the title of interim police services manager, will be appointed without spending the money for a search.

"Neither, actually," Rains responded by email.

"We are evaluating the possibility of handling the search process internally through our Human Resources Department. If we elect to proceed with this format, there would be certain costs associated with an external search. However, they would likely be less than hiring a firm.   

"I anticipate a decision being made within the week."


Police Department still recruiting to fill vacancies, advisory board told

(Posted April 19, 2015)


Scroll down for earlier stories about officers leaving the Police Department



The Casa Grande Police Department is continuing its hiring following normal transitions and the departures of unhappy officer during the tenure of Chief Johnny Cervantes, who later resigned under fire about his handling of the department.

The department now has 73 sworn officers (including officers now in the academy), with six openings for officers and one for chief of police, the Police Advisory Board was told.

During the April 9 board meeting, member Rodolfo Calvillo said, "A concern that I had was when Chief Cervantes came and we had this exodus of some people and there were various overtures as to why and who, and so I was concerned, were we losing people or did we gain anybody?"

Board Chairman Mikel McBride asked where the department stands on recruiting replacements.

Capt. Reginald Winston, who commands the Patrol Division, replied that, "Currently, I have four recruits in the academy. I have one scheduled to start the academy on the 20th of this month. I have testing being conducted on the 24th of April. From that testing they'll do a physical agility, barring that they're successful on their written examination.

"From the written examination, they go to the physical agility test. If they're successful with that, then they're invited to an oral board. Once they are presented at that oral board, selections are made from those employees that we wish to continue to process with and attempt to send to the academy."

Transitioning from recruit to an officer patrolling without a training officer is a long process, Winston noted.

"One of the unfortunate parts about hiring new officers," he said, "is that after we hire them it's approximately 36 weeks to 40 weeks before those officers ware actually available to us, seeing that they attend the academy for 17 weeks and then they attend the FTO (field training) program where they ride for the next 18 weeks with a veteran officer who trains them in our approach to policing of our community and the things that we have to do as a police officer."

More departures from the department are on the horizon.

Winston said four officers are now in the Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP, which offer incentives to stay with the department for up to five years after normal retirement date. In addition, Winston said, "I have a total of seven officers that have exceeded the 20 years, so they are eligible for retirement, as well."


An explanation of DROP is HERE


Capt. Angel Leos, who recently joined the Casa Grande department after 25 years with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said the Legislature acted because the DPS and other law enforcement agencies and fire departments were looking at losing a lot of personnel because of the option to retire after 20 years.

"What would occur is I would retire today, but come in under that DROP program," Leos said. "I still have the same rank, my same salary, the same command. The only thing was, I was retired and my retirement was going to a special fund. That special fund is guaranteed so much percentage and I could stay up to five years. After five years, you would have to get out or lose any of that money you'd made during those five years.

"So it was a way to keep senior people on, the firemen and police agencies, because at that time was the recession, not a lot of hiring going on. I think they're still having that problem now. It's difficult for us to go recruit law enforcement people, not a lot of people want to do that any more, because it's the generation.

"That was just an incentive to keep senior officers on a little longer that had a lot of institutional knowledge or experts that they didn't want to lose."

Leos said the DPS still faces attrition problems.

"In the Department of Public Safety, which is way behind the 8 Ball there, we're losing probably a couple hundred patrolmen within the next couple of years. The first big phase was going to be in June, where I would have left, but I came to Casa Grande PD. We're losing totally our whole command, our whole command's leaving. And again in October we're losing a lot, the following year we're losing a lot more. It helps them for about five years, but they're trying to catch up with ones that are leaving."

Board member Diana Curtis asked if recruiting persons into law enforcement is still difficult.

"I know at CAC that criminal justice program is very, very popular," she said. "I talk to students, they all seem to want to go into law enforcement."

It just varies, Leos replied.

"I will speak through the Department of Public Safety that it is difficult We're competing with a lot of private industry. And if you become a DPS officer you may have to move, you may end up (anywhere in the state), you're not given that choice. A lot of individuals don't want to leave the Phoenix-Tucson area. A lot of them are married, don't want to leave the kids.

"My older son is a police officer. My younger son looked at being a police officer after he went to college. He said, OK, I've got to work weekends, holidays, might get shot, I get paid this much but I can get paid more money, have weekends off, holidays, incentives, I'm going there.

"So, you know, it's that option with young kids that don't look at that as being a career any more. It's a different attitude now."


Casa Grande cops train in how to handle active shooter situations

(Posted April 16, 2015)


The Casa Grande Police Department trains officers on how to react during an active shooter situation, such as those at schools, malls and other areas that have been in the news lately.

The question arose during the April 9 Police Advisory Board meeting when member Rodolfo Calvillo said he is at St. Anthony church until about four in the morning each Wednesday for Adoration. He noted that there usually are few worshipers there but that occasionally problems have been caused by "malcontents" who hang around a nearby liquor store.

Calvillo asked if police officers are aware of the layouts of buildings, such as churches, in order to respond to trouble. He also wanted to know if there is active shooter situation training.

"Active shooter training is conducted, yes," responded Capt. Reginald Winston, who commands the Patrol Division. "Actually, that's a continuous thing that we do."

As far as layout of certain facilities, Winston continued, "we do our best to have maps of facilities to use for rapid response. In particular, the schools are our biggest emphasis when we look at maps.

"We do do walkthroughs of the schools, especially with our new officers. That's part of the field training  program so that a new officer is aware of, say, Casa Grande High School and the layout. As a new officer in 18 weeks of training he gets a lot of information in a short period of time.

"But those maps are available. They have maps on video to be able to do rapid response and they can refer to that, look at the egress and entrances and exits of a facility."

Winston said he was not certain if St. Anthony's was among those maps.

Calvillo pointed out that St. Anthony's has a large community center and that the Mormon church where he made a presentation is also large.

"If something went on there, unless you had an understanding of the rooms, layout an officer could be in trouble responding to an active shooter," he said.

"It might be a good thing to start these new churches and churches that are around to submit a floor plan so that there is an awareness."

Acting chief Chris Vasquez said he believes that when a building is built or enlarged, a floor plan has to be submitted to the city Planning and Development Department.

"Those floor plans are accessible to us," he said. "If we have an active shooter, say, at Wal-Mart Distribution Center or at a church or whatever and we want to know what the inside of it is like, we can contact Planning and Zoning and get a copy of that for us. It's available."

A lot of that information is already available to officers, Winston said, adding that, "Unfortunately, we can't go to every facility in the city, but the training that is conducted on proper movement techniques builds on that for actual situations.

"Those officers are trained in a response and their training is geared toward real world situations and they're able to respond to that."


Busting of major Spice distribution ring badly underplayed, PAB told

(Posted April 17, 2015)


The busting of a major Spice distribution ring with links to Casa Grande should have been a major story in the city but was badly underplayed in the local newspaper, the Police Advisory Board was told during the April 9 meeting.

Both Chairman Mikel McBride and board member Rodolfo Castillo had comments critical of the way the story was handled locally.

At issue were announcements by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the Casa Grande Police Department outlining how the investigation started with the CGPD probing Spice sales activity at Convenience Depot of Cottonwood Lane, which then led to the major distributor in the Valley. 

"We as a community would like to thank the Police Department for taking those steps and getting that off (the streets)," McBride.

"It didn't get near the accolades it should have, in my opinion. It should have been out there more.

"I don't now if the community realizes how big of a thing that was. That was a huge, huge step in getting rid of the kind of 'okay' drugs, is what people think of them. But it's really nasty, it's up there with everything else. It's leading in to all the other harder drugs.

"I'd like to applaud you guys for doing that."

Both McBride and Calvillo were critical that the Dispatch story, rewritten from DEA and CGPD news releases and place on Page 2, left out information about the early efforts of Casa Grande Alliance in warning about drug problems. 

McBride said a Phoenix radio station "did a thing about it and they mentioned the Alliance and all the different agencies that were involved, which I thought was pretty good to get the Phoenix radio station talking about what happened. That stuck out there. The Phoenix market, it's not a huge thing for them but it is a huge thing for us down here."

Calvillo agreed.

"To me, it spoke volumes," he said. "We've seen the interdepartmental activities with one agency working with another agency and another agency, inclusive of DEA.

"I agree with Mike, that there was not nearly enough information, and it only came out in the paper today. And it wasn't that big of an article and certainly was not in depth enough to know what went into it and just how instrumental Casa Grande PD was involved in stuff. There wasn't enough credit given to Casa Grande Alliance. It was just a partial line."


CG NEWS note: Different news outlets have different methods of judging news, especially what they think is important locally.

The Dispatch chose to rewrite press releases, in the process cutting out the Casa Grande Alliance information included in the Police Department news release. The Dispatch did not post the press releases on its website.

CG News chose to post links to both the CGPD and DEA news releases, allowing the reader to see the full information. Those links were placed on the home page and also on the POLICE news page.


The DEA link is HERE. The PD link is HERE. The Dispatch story link is HERE.


Sensitivity training an ongoing requirement in Casa Grande department

(Posted April 15, 2015)


Although the Arizona board overseeing law enforcement officers does not require sensitivity training for officers, the Casa Grande Police Department does it as a matter of policy, the Police Advisory Board was told.

During the April 9 board meeting, Capt. Reginald Winston, who commands the Patrol Division, said that officers have also gone through a course called Respect Effect, covering building trust in a community.

"In addition," Winston said, "the supervisors are responsible for continuing that training within their Patrol briefings, providing that information to those officers.

"They also use a lot of media sites to conduct training from, incidents that have happened around the country, how to avoid being placed in those various types of positions, how to communicate with people.

"Not only do we have the formal training, but a lot of informal training is put into our relationship with the community in dealing with sensitivity issues.

"Specifically we don't look at race or color or anything like that. We look at the overall picture of how to treat somebody the way that you want to be treated."

Winston said the state Peace Officer Standards and Training board does not require sensitivity training after an officer leaves the training academy.

"POST only requires that we conduct a certain amount of training per year," he continued. "However, the chief can dictate what training we do throughout the year and our training supervisor is responsible for ensuring that that training is covered.

"Supervisors have a lot of responsibility and part of that responsibility is training to ensure the safety of the officers, to ensure the officers are well versed in changes in the law and things of that nature."

Board member Rodolfo Calvillo said officers, as in private industry, need to understand various cultures and what goes on within a culture, "because we don't want to be in a position where we may say something off-color, off the cuff, so to speak, and be offensive.

"When I look at the Native American community there are certain aspects where they could be put in a very compromising position merely by have someone interact and/or say certain things.

"And I think that as a Hispanic I know there are things about my community that I'm more hypersensitive to.

"It would be a situation where I would want to ensure that the folks that are out there serving and protecting know the worries of the communities so that we don't take someone for granted and say, well, you know, all you people do this …"

Winston agreed.

"I understand exactly what you're saying," he said. "From my perspective as an African-American male, with everything that's going on in the world today, I have a clear picture of what you're saying there. I understand your sensitivity to the Hispanic culture and each one of us has our own sensitivities, but the black males that are getting shot, whether they did something wrong or not, yes, I do want our officers to be aware of that, because personally it affects me. 

"So I have assured that that training is being conducted. That is one of my responsibilities, to ensure that the officers, that my Patrol officers, are aware and are sensitive to the members of our community. We have a very diverse community and it is our responsibility to insure we know how that community works.

"I have tasked my supervisors and my lieutenants to insure that our officers are aware of our community, of our community's makeup and the people that we actually work for, the people that we serve."

Acting chief Chris Vasquez told the board that, "since I've been with the Police Department I always make it a point to meet each new hire even before they actually start. I sit down and I have a one-on-one conversation to go over expectations of what they can expect from me and what I expect from them.

"The groundwork is set on how I believe we treat people in this community and how we respect people as far as their gender, their race and their ethnicity, how we have to respect that, and that we have to treat people with dignity and respect no matter who they are, or even the criminal element, people that actually would be out committing crimes. 

"We have to be up here," Vasquez said, drawing a head-level line with his hand. "The criminal element may be down here (drawing a much lower line) but once we lower ourselves with mistreatment we're no better than that criminal.

"I start setting that groundwork from day one, on the first day. And it continues on. Periodically, I'll go sit in on a briefing or I'll stand at the door and I'll listen."

As part of the training, Vasquez said, "We'll show video of certain officers in certain situations. Some officers handle it well, some don't. 

"I see that ours are doing a very good job of talking to his officers and staff, saying what did they do wrong, what did they right? How would you handle that? 

"And we talk about the use of force, we talk about how we treat people, we talk about that all the time. It's something that is constantly being put in their heads and it's a mark of how the direction of this department is going on how we treat people.

"We don't want to see Casa Grande PD on TV."

Calvillo said he also does not want to see negative media reports about how the department officers act.

"My feeling was get ahead of the curve before any of this becomes an issue, so that we know how well to speak to whomever is out there about our community."

Diversity comes in many forms, Calvillo said.

"When I think of diversity," he continued, "I not only think of ethnic diversity, I think of diversity of people by way of sexual orientation, I think of people who are disabled and/or have those issues and those issues with mental problems and the like.

"All of them certainly deserve, as you intimated, respect in how they're treated and interacted with. And I think that that comes down to recognizing that people are different and they bring different issues to the table."

Calvillo said he spent five years working in the court systems in Colorado and saw the advocacy for victims of a crime, but not for families of those who committed crimes.

"I never saw advocacy for the family of the perpetrators," he said. "They, too, have been victimized, and all too often when you have an individual who has perpetrated the crime you treat the family badly as if they were criminals, as well.

"And I'm not saying this department, but I'm saying the system has a tendency to treat perpetrators' families as if they somehow raised that person to be that criminal, that criminal element was part of a home environment. It may be in some occasions part of the home environment, but by and large more often than not it wasn't. 

"And when we begin to look at substance abuse, when we see how substance abuse as being in our community with our young folks, these young folks aren't being trained to be drug addicts at home. They're getting involved in issues with people and, again, I commend your for this situation with the Spice (Convenience Depot bust) because that's the kind of thing that affects our community. Those are the things that create the criminal element, because once you create that dependency and you have no means of earning money, you go do whatever you do in order to have the resources necessary to be able to do that."

Board member Anabel Bevan asked what happens when the department may be having an issue with an officer or is getting complaints from the community or another officer.

"We accept both internal and external complaints, whether it's from an officer or from a citizen," Winston replied.

"Each one of our complaints is dealt with in a formatted matter, whether it's at a level where that first-line supervisor can investigate that and conduct verbal counseling, additional training or if it's of a nature where it has to go forward and it could end in possible suspension or termination it's turned over to our internal investigation unit.

"Their recommendation and their report is submitted to the chief of police, who then provides that final determination as to the outcome of that."


Casa Grande police officers may be outfitted with body cameras

(Posted April 14, 2015)


The budget timetable is HERE


The buzz words across the country in the wake of fatal police shootings are "body cameras for cops."

They may be coming to the Casa Grande Police Department.

During the April 9 Police Advisory Board meeting member Diana Curtis asked if there are plans to outfit officers.

Acting chief Chris Vasquez replied that the department has submitted a proposal, including funding, to bring in body cameras over a five-year period.

"It's in the budget process," he said. "It's up to the city manager on whether he wants to do that."

Curtis also asked what the cost would be.

"A lot," Vasquez said.

He said that while final costs are not yet firm, "I think for the five-year cost it was $100,000 over a five-year period. If we were going to buy them just for Patrol officers all at one time it would be over $100,000."

Capt. Reginald Winston, who commands the Patrol Division, added that, "When we look at body cameras it takes a lot of research on our part in order to implement something like that, because we not only look at the system itself but the data storage, the cost involved and how it affects our community with that additional cost.

"It does take a lot of research to implement a new program and we don't want to provide something to our community members and find out six months later this isn't really what we were looking for, it's not serving the purpose."




      The type of body camera used in the Los Angeles Police         Department 


(AP photo)


Veteran officers happy with changes in department, advisory board told

(Posted April 14, 2015)


After long turmoil in the Casa Grande Police Department over the aloof management style and lack of attention to detail of then Chief Johnny Cervantes, the situation is being turned around.

Cervantes resigned under fire, one of his captains left under mysterious circumstances still not explained by the city and the second captain he had hired cleaned out his office the same night as did Cervantes, both departing.

Chris Vasquez, a former department lieutenant and former Pinal County sheriff, was appointed in the interim.

The exodus of officers for other departments because of Cervantes has stopped, helping stabilization of the department.

The situation was touched upon by Police Advisory Board Chairman Mikel McBride during the April 9 meeting.

"I've spoken with a few of the officers I've known over the years and they're more than thrilled over the way the change has been made within the last several months," McBride said. "They're very happy about it.

"They said they feel it's just like the burden is lifted off.

"Things are changing. The communication between the officers is changing. There was lots of strife back and forth between officers because of all of the turmoil that was going on throughout the department. They said things have just kind of eased off."

McBride said the comments he has heard are from seasoned officers.

"It goes to show that the department's moving in the right direction," he said.

Board member Anabel Bevan said that was evident at the annual department awards banquet.

"You could see it, you could feel it, you didn't have the tension, everything they went through," she said.

"It was very pleasant and you could tell that it was a relief."


CG Police Department demographics close to that of city as a whole

(Posted April 13, 2015)


News reports about police shootings, often of minorities, across the nation have sometimes pointed out that the policy agency involved was heavily white.

That led Casa Grande Police Advisory Board member Rodolfo Castillo to ask for an ethnic breakdown of the Casa Grande department.

During the April 9 board meeting, Capt. Reginald Winston presented a report he said shows the racial breakdown among officers is fairly close to that of Casa Grande as a whole.

As the meeting opened, Calvillo said he asked for the report because "in view of the activities that have been going on across the United States with police activity and contact with the public and those things, I thought it would be something better for us to get ahead of the curve, so to speak, … an awful lot of what's happening, what we hear nationally on the news is that most of the departments that have been highlighted have shown a disparity between officers of color in the department and gender, male and female."

Prior to the presentation, Chris Vasquez, who carries the title of interim police administrative director but is in actuality the acting chief following the resignation under fire of Johnny Cervantes, told the board that the statistics are as close as can be, given that federal law prohibits asking race or age on job applications.

"It's only voluntary," he said, "and usually on applications a supplemental insert says if you want to fill it out you can, but it's not required. Some fill it out and give their race and ethnicity. Actually, more often and not they'll leave it blank.

"Some of this is as close as we can get, based on what we know. It isn't going to be 100 percent accurate, for that reason, but it's close."

Winston broke the information down into two parts.

"The first category is sworn personnel," he said, "those personnel that are certified by Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training to be a peace officer in the state of Arizona.

"Currently, we have 73 sworn peace officers in our employment. We have five females and 68 males. The breakdown on that is 6.8 percent female and 93 percent male. Of those employees, 51 are white, 20 are Hispanic, two black. The breakdown on that is 69.9 percent are white, 27.4 percent are Hispanic and 2.7 percent are black.

"If you've done your research, and I'm quite sure all of you have, and done the research on our community and the makeup of our demographics, you will see that these numbers are in line with our community. So I'm proud of that point that in the Police Department, with no discerning race, color, creed or whatever, we are trying to hire the best applicants out there. And I think the makeup of our department really shows that."

    

See charts below for city ethnic and gender breakdown and school district ethnic breakdown


"We have a total of 21 supervisors," Winston said. "Two of those are female, 19 male, so the breakdown is 12.5 percent female and 87.5 percent male. 

"Ten of those supervisors (corporals and sergeants) are white, six are Hispanic.

"When I look at upper level supervision, the breakdown of lieutenants and captains, which is a total of five, all five are males, which give us a hundred percent makeup of our command staff is males. Two are white, which is 40 percent. Two are Hispanic, which is 40 percent. And one black, which is 20 percent." Acting chief Vasquez is also Hispanic.

Winston also had a breakdown of non sworn, or civilian, personnel.

"I have a total of 48 employees that are non sworn," he said. "I have 28 females and 20 males, so the breakdown is 58.3 percent females. Twenty nine of which are white, 16 Hispanic, one black, one Pacific Islander and one Native American. The supervisory breakdown of six supervisors, four of those are female, two are male. Five of those are white and one Hispanic."


Casa Grande Union High School District receives students from Casa Grande Elementary School District, St. Anthony of Padua, Sacaton Public Schools and Toltec Elementary School District.

Angel Leos is Police Department's newest captain, ending vacancies

(Posted April 7, 2015)


Capt. Angel Leos, left


The Casa Grande Police Department's newest captain was introduced to the City Council during Monday night's (April 6) meeting.

Angel Leos, a 25-year veteran of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, is heading the Criminal Investigations Division.

His appointment ends the search to replace the two captains hired under the tenure of Chief Johnny Cervantes, who resigned under fire for his handling of the department and officers. Both men were his acquaintances. One left under mysterious circumstances still not explained by the city, the other when he and Cervantes cleaned out their offices at night and disappeared.

Reginald Winston, an experience CGPD officer who was passed over for promotion to captain when Cervantes hired the two, was named a captain after Chris Vasquez took over.

Leos was introduced by Vasquez, who although he has the title of interim police administrative director is in actuality the acting chief.

Referring to the tan uniforms worn by DPS officers versus the blue in Casa Grande, Vasquez said, "We're teaching him how to dress in the right colors and understand that there's more to law enforcement than just traffic.

"He spent 25 years with them and he does bring, actually, a wealth of information or a wealth of expertise to the Police Department, especially when it comes with canine. He's probably one of the most renowned canine experts, not only in the state of Arizona but nationwide, when it comes to drug interdiction and other areas of canine usage, so he does bring a wealth of expertise in that area."

Vasquez said Leos also has experience as an acting police chief in Douglas and with the Capitol Police Department, "so I think we're blessed to have him on board."

Speaking to the council, Leos said, "I'm ecstatic to be here. Born and raised in Pinal County, Picacho-Eloy area, very familiar with Casa Grande. I look at some of the growth we've had here and remember working in the cotton fields back in the '70s, '80s, now they're all businesses.

"Very ecstatic. Very good agency. I'm looking forward to coming on board and bringing some of my expertise, some of my experience, my leadership experience, to the officers here and to the agency.

"Very happy to be here and, again, thank you for giving me this opportunity."


Remember the men and women out there pushing those patrol cars
up and down the streets, new captain Winston tells advisory board

(Posted Jan. 13, 2015)


Reginald Winston, an 18-year-plus veteran of the Casa Grande Police Department, was passed over for promotion to captain during the nationwide search that eventually brought two friends of former Chief Johnny Cervantes, neither of whom had extensive command experience.

Both of the captains are now gone, one under mysterious circumstances, the other resigning in November at the same time as Cervantes, both men cleaning out their offices late at night without notice to the department.

                  (Scroll down page for earlier stories)

Because of the circumstances surrounding Cervantes' appointment of his two friends, Winston filed an Equal Opportunities Employment Commission complaint, a move still not resolved at the time Cervantes departed.

In December, it was announced that Winston had been promoted to captain. That was shortly followed by another announcement that it was actually only an appointment as acting captain.

During last week's Police Advisory Board meeting (Jan. 8), acting department manager Chris Vasquez announced that Winston's promotion is now permanent.

"One of the most important things that I did or that's happened that was really a morale booster that I'm excited about is the promotion of Reginald Winston to the rank of captain," Vasquez told the board, noting that Winston started as an officer and worked his way up through the ranks.

"But not only that, he's a great leader in the military. He was a Marine -- and being a Navy man I don't hold that against him. After the Marines, he went into the National Guard. Sometime ago (the city decided) that they would like to see the command staff, not just the PD but citywide, have a college degree in order to hold any executive level position. He took that to heart and he obtained his bachelor's degree and his master's. He took that in the military and he went to Officer Candidate School and became a second lieutenant. He didn't stop there. He's been promoted to first lieutenant and now he is a captain in the military. 

"He is a decorated officer; he isn't just an officer, he's a decorated officer. He's a very modest man. I talked to him about his accomplishments and the awards he's received. He's led men into battle, he's got the Bronze Star for leading men into battle, for his leadership. He has a Meritorious Service Medal. This is something to be proud of. 

"So for those skills alone, how can you pass this guy up and not make him a captain? 

"I'll let him take that same leadership in this department and lead these men into service for our community."

Winston, who commands the Patrol Division, told the board that after Vasquez promoted him, "he gave me a lot of responsibilities and duties. He kind of talked about some of the things that I've done throughout my career here in the Police Department and in the military. And I can't take credit for all of those things. All I can say that is I was surrounded by great people, wonderful people.

"And on that note, those men and women of the Police Department are the ones that will make me successful in this job."

During his comments to the board, Vasquez had pointed out the successes the Community Response Team has had in combatting crime.

Winston added that, "I'd like to give credit to my Patrol officers, those guys, those men and women that are out there pushing those patrol cars up and down the streets, making traffic stops, those one you slow down when you see.

"Those are breadwinners, those men and women are the backbone of our department. And without them we will be nothing.

"So everything, every effort we make within that Police Department is to support those men and women pushing those black and whites up and down our city streets."

Vasquez had also commented on how department personnel and command staff were coming up with good ideas now that they have been freed to speak out.

Winston agreed.

"I have a good staff working with me," he said. "Lt. Kent Horn, Lt. Scott Sjerven, Lt. Frank Alanis.

"We've kind of made comments that I think I'm going to have to keep my office door closed, because Chris pointed out that the bridle is off and the ideals, the enthusiasm, motivation to do the work and make this this a better community is what it's all about.

"And I get five or six new. wonderful, great ideas every day. And with those, we make decisions on what best fits the department, what's best for the community and overall how does it benefit our citizens, our service population and our community members that live here.

"So my hat is off for the support that I've received from the Police Department since my promotion, the support I've received from the lieutenants, the sergeants and on down the ranks. And most of all, the guidance, direction Chris has given me to go out and do my job."

Winston said he intends to gradually bring officers before the board for introductions.

"I know you see these police officers on the street and you see them in their cars," he said, "but I want to get them in here so that you know who's out there protecting your streets. 

"Those officers are your officers and I think they need to know you and you need to know them." 


Police Department will be run as team, interim manager tells advisory board

(Posted Jan. 12, 2015)


Scroll down page for earlier interview with Vasquez after he was selected



The Casa Grande Police Department will be run as a team, interim manager Chris Vasquez told the Police Advisory Board, relying on the training, talent and ideas of personnel.

Vasquez was named to the interim position last month following the November resignation of Chief Johnny Cervantes, who was under fire for the way he operated the department for a year and a half.

Addressing the advisory board at its Jan. 8 meeting, Vasquez said he grew up in the department, starting as an officer in 1976 and retiring as a lieutenant before moving to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office where he was later elected sheriff.

"I have been here less than a month and I'm seeing some tremendous things of the men and women at the Casa Grande PD," Vasquez said. 

"These are men and women that you can be proud of to call your law enforcement officers, men like Lt. (Kent) Horn and Capt. Reginald Winston, Lt. Scott Sjerven, Sgt. (Dave) Engstrom and many, many others. I could go on down the list.

"And I'm just amazed that if you just take the bridles off of them there's great things that they're going to do for you and they're going to do for this community. I'm finding out the longer I'm there and more I interact just how much.

"With everything we're going through in law enforcement across the United States, I'm seeing in this agency right here how much these people really do care about their community and the people that they serve."


Look to the future

Vasquez said that when he took over and started talking with department personnel, "I told them the worst thing that we can do is look to the past and dwell on the past. Were mistakes made, can we point fingers, can we blame and can we dwell on the past? Yes, we can, but that's not what we need to do.

"What we do is look to the past, we look at the mistakes that were made, we learn from them. We look at the things that were done right, the things that were done good. We build upon that. We look at today and we look to the future of this Police Department for tomorrow or even five years from now, 10 years from now, where do we want this PD to be. And let's build upon that. Learn from the past, but let's build for today and for the future.

"They've taken that to heart. And we are moving forward."


Open communication

Vasquez said that not many changes have been made since he arrived, "but one of the biggest changes that we're making is we're opening up the lines of communication.

"This department is going to be led and it's going to be run not from the top down, but from the top and the bottom and inward. And we're going to run this department together.  

"There's so much talent in this department that it's just mind-boggling and one of the worst things we can do as administrators is not tap into that resource."

Vasquez said that early in his management career he read a book written by a Navy captain who had taken over a dysfunctional ship.

"No one could make a decision," Vasquez said, "decision had to come from the top down, no one was empowered to do anything. So the ship itself was in sad shape.

"And finally he looked down at his people and said, listen, this is your ship, you make the decisions, you do what you need to do, you're well trained, you think outside the box, you do what you need to do to stay within budget, you do what you need to do to fix this ship and run this ship, it's your ship.

"And they started doing things, because he empowered them to do what they needed to do to run the ship."

Vasquez said that is also his belief and philosophy.

"That's one of the first things I told my command staff and I told me sergeants and supervisors at the Police Department: This is your department, I'm not going to make your decisions. You come and tell me this is the problem and then you tell me how we're going to fix that problem. I'll give you the tools you need to accomplish your goals, to accomplish the tasks before you to solve that problem, whatever that problem may be.

"And we're seeing some great results. I've seen guys just thinking outside the box to be creative and do some creative things.

"When it comes to be solving crimes, the Community Response Team is just going crazy, they're doing some great things. They're making arrests, every time we turn around they're doing a search warrant and they're putting bad guys in jail. They're solving crimes. They're just doing an outstanding job. It's their shift, they're going to run with it."


Participatory management

It's not a new concept, Vasquez said, but hasn't been used all that much because "most law enforcement administrators don't like doing it because it means you're giving up a little bit of power, you're relinquishing your authority to the people that you work with.

"We're instituting a program called Shared Leadership. As I said, it's nothing new, it's been around forever, called participatory management, it got its start in Broken Bow, Okla., a study done in conjunction with the university there." Vasquez said the study was brought to his attention by Lt. Sjerven.

"Basically what we're going to do," he continued, "is we're establishing a shared leadership team. This team is made up from every cross section, every member within the department, from one member of the command staff to chair it, to sergeants, to a corporal, to officers, to detention officers, to a dispatcher, to a records clerk, to an Animal Control officer. It doesn't matter where they work, it's going to be a team.

"And they're going to develop an agenda and they're going to tackle things, such as they're going to make recommendations on policy, on new programs, on budget issues, on training issues, basically anything to do with the running of this department they're going to help me in the decision making on how we do things.

"Now, does that mean they're going to have full authority to do things? No. The final decision rests right here with me. They're going to make a recommendation. If it's a policy change or if it's a new program they want to go with or if it's a change in how we do shifts or how we do coverage, promotional processes, training issues, they're going to make a recommendation and for the most part, unless there's an overwhelming reason, we're going to go with that recommendation.

"They're going to have a true say in how this department is run.

"There are two things that are off the table that they cannot make a decision on or they cannot address: one is disciplinary issues -- that is dealt in policy with another panel -- or any issues that are dealt with or outside of our control through the city, through city policy or city ordinance -- evaluations, pay raises, things of that nature.

"But outside of that, everything else is on the table for them to discuss, to develop new ideas, to make recommendations how we make this a better place in order to work. They're finally going to have a voice in how this department is run."

Vasquez said he was surprised -- "I shouldn't have been" -- that when nominations for the team were requested, more than 50 came in. Those names will be voted on by personnel to decide who should be on the team, he said, adding that from those elected he will appoint three or four from each work area.

"It's a good start," Vasquez said. "And I think it's going to lead this department into the future. I think it's going to be a buy-in, it's going to empower them to truly believe that this is their department and we're going to run it together."


Board member comment

In later comments, board member Rodolfo Calvillo said, "I applaud this process of participatory management, but let's hope it's something that our permanent chief embraces. He or she may come in and decide that they have a new policy they want, which may make that go by the wayside. I hope that it doesn't necessarily happen, with the understanding that if this is something that rank and file is embracing, and it seems to be, that there be some continuing of it, as long as it's successful and it truly reflects the personnel and the direction it needs to go for the future."


Let them do the job

Vasquez told the board that, "I've told my command staff and I told the sergeants just stand back and let them work. Let them go on to do what they've been trained to do. I put all my faith and trust in this command staff to make the decisions they need to make. They in turn need to do that all the way down. 

"And we're seeing a tremendous jump in just the morale, the camaraderie that I'm seeing. It's phenomenal. We're seeing some great things. And I think you're going to see some really great things in this department as the future goes down."


Police Advisory Board wants to be part of selection of new chief

(Posted Jan. 11, 2015)


Scroll down page for background stories on situation in the Police Department



The Police Advisory Board will request to be a part of the selection of a new city police chief to replace Johnny Cervantes who resigned in November under fire for the way he chose to run the department.

During the board meeting Thursday night (Jan. 8), member Roger Vanderpool said, "I would strongly urge that the chairman and at least one member be a participant in that process."

Vanderpool, a former Pinal County sheriff and former director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said he would not want to be part of the selection, given that his term expires next month.

Vanderpool urged that the board send a letter to City Manager Jim Thompson asking to participate.

"That's what we did last time (the hiring of Cervantes)," he said. "He had no problem with it, they even asked for some input on some possible questions.

"That's a vital role for the board to be involved in that."

Member Rodolfo Calvillo agreed that the board should have participation.

"I think that as an advisory board we certainly need to be able to support whatever it is our department is doing, whomever it is that's chief, or interim chief, for that matter," he said.

"I think it's critical that we not be considered just a board that is a feel-good situation with no real activity."

The city's description of the board says it, "works with the Police Department and public to identify public safety and law enforcement issues of concern to the community or portions of the community. It provides recommendations to the Police Department regarding how issues should be addressed."

Calvillo continued that, "I think that the majority of us probably feel that we want to be active members, we want to be active board members doing something to support our department.

"There's going to be some change, there's no question about it. 

"I think that this board, and I don't how many, needs to be a part of the process. I think irrespective of whether we are or not, we still have voices as citizens of the community to be able to ask the questions. I just think there needs to be more inclusiveness."

Member Johnjaline Culley said she would like to see the entire board take a part in the selection, "whoever decides to participate rather than just selected people.

"And I would like to see us be involved in the process from beginning until the final selection is made."

Chairman Mikel McBride said he believes having the entire board involved at one time would actually constitute a board meeting, meaning there would have to be an agenda and have it open to the public to comply with state open meeting laws.

"I've involved in interview processes within the department and it's not that huge of a group of personnel that's doing the questioning," he said.

Vanderpool said that during the process that led to the hiring of Cervantes more than one panel was convened.

"They had participation from city government, several of the department heads, quite a bit of participation from the department, which was very good, it was good to see line staff on the board," he said.

"We really fit in, I think, as the role of the citizen involved on there."

Vanderpool asked that the board send a letter to Thompson "requesting and offering the assistance of members of the board to assist in any selection process."

The board unanimously agreed.


Winston named acting captain to fill one of two department vacancies

UPDATE: Capt. Winston's promotion has been made permanent.


(Posted Dec. 16, 2014)


Reginald Winston, who has served with the Casa Grande Police Department for more than 18 years, has been named acting captain, it was announced today.

Winston had been supervisor of the department's Professional Standards Unit and now will head the Patrol Division.

He is the first acting replacement for two captains brought in by former chief Johnny Cervantes, both of whom resigned with no reasons given. Cervantes also resigned in November under fire for his methods of running the department.

Winston had been passed over during the selection of those two captains, both acquaintances of Cervantes, and had filed an Equal Employment Opportunities Commission complaint with the city. That was still being considered at the time of Cervantes' departure.

One of the captains, Todd Hanley, departed this October. A terse email sent to department employees and some city officials said: "Effective October 17, 2014, Captain Todd Hanley will no longer be an employee of the Casa Grande Police Department." No details were given.

The other captain, J.D. Parrow, resigned the same day as Cervantes quit.

Both positions had remained vacant.

"I've got some options I'm looking at," Public Safety Manager Chris Vasquez said in an interview with CG News last Friday, Dec. 12. "I'm going to sit down with staff, sit down with the city manager, weigh the options, but those will be filled. We're not going to wait for the new chief, whoever that may be, we're going to fill those as soon as possible.

"If we're going to succeed, we have to."

The appointment of the two previous captains brought in by Cervantes caused the three commanders at the time to be demoted to lieutenant, later being informed that they would have their pay cut.

One resigned, two of them filed complaints with the city. Those were being discussed at the time of Cervantes' departure.

A letter from their attorney is HERE



(CG NEWS NOTE: Although a city press release identified Vasquez as interim police chief, he told CG News that his actual title is public safety manager.)







Chris Vasquez, named public safety manager, holds a plaque given to him in August when he left after three years as a department volunteer police aide.

An interview with interim chief Chris Vasquez

(DEC. 16 NOTE: Vasquez has since clarified that a city press release identifying him as interim police chief was in error. He said the actual title is public safety manager.)


(Posted Dec. 13, 2014)


Scroll down page for earlier stories about problems in the Police Department.



Veteran law enforcement officer Chris Vasquez begins his job as public safety manager with the Casa Grande Police Department on Monday (Dec. 15) with an eye toward solving some of the problems created by his predecessor, including low morale and officers leaving for other agencies.

Vasquez, a 20-year veteran of the department who retired as a lieutenant and then became chief deputy of the Pinal County Sheriff's Department and later sheriff in his own right, later spent three years back with the department as a volunteer aide, retiring again this August. He was appointed as interim chief on Dec. 5, replacing Chief Johnny Cervantes, who resigned under fire in November.

CG News held a long interview with Vasquez, asking what he intends to do in the department.


Active Management

One of the complaints from former and present officers was that Cervantes was rather remote, not really getting involved with officers or with issuing clear command decisions.

It will be different now, Vasquez told CG News.

"I don't manage from behind a desk," he said.

"I know when I worked for Sheriff Roger Vanderpool and I became his chief deputy, he gave me full authority, really, to run the Sheriff's Office for him so he could go out and be sheriff.

"Because I don't manage from behind a desk, I was constantly out and about, talking, communicating, actually in the work area of the various departments of the sheriff's department that he complained that he never knew where I was, so he gave me a cow bell so he could find out where I'm at in the department."


Shared leadership

For success in the department, Vasquez said, ideas, beliefs and policies cannot come exclusively from him as interim chief.

"It's got to be a shared vision, it's got to be a shared mission," he said. "We all have to become involved in the running of this department and we have to get buy-in from the bottom up, from the top down if we're going to be successful.

"And the only way that we can do that is to have a good, solid communication top down and bottom up."

Vasquez said he is studying a successful program originating in Broken Bow, Okla., known as Shared Leadership.

"It's nothing new, really. It's an old version of participatory management. That's something I've always used, but it just takes it to a different level.

"It's called Shared Leadership."

The condensed explanation, Vasquez said, "is you put together a committee or a group of people made from all aspects of the Police Department, from officer to supervision to civilian, whether Dispatch and Records, and transportation officers and volunteers to Special Ops.

"They're elected by their peers to be part of this committee. There's also going to be what you call chief's appointments to make up part of this committee.

"They will address almost every issue, change and practices that we will encounter on how we do business within the Police Department, whether it would be a policy change or a process of how we do things.

"They will come together, they will research it, they'll work it out. Their job is to take it out to the rest of the department, not just amongst themselves. They're to take it out to the rest of the department to get their input, their ideas on a particular issue that they're facing to get buy-in."

The finished product will then be presented to him, Vasquez said.

"It can't be an absolute, because the final decision always has to rest with the chief," he continued, "but for the most part, if it's a good idea the odds are that the chief will go along with that recommendation.

"In doing that, that kind of empowers all of the employees that at least they had a voice, they had input and they have a say in what we're doing as an agency."

The only way a plan could be absolutely vetoed, Vasquez said, "is if it's illegal, immoral, unethical, totally violates policy or creates a huge liability for the city if we were to do that recommendation. And it has to be cost effective, it's got to be within the budget that we can afford it.

"Outside of those reasons, there's no reason why the chief cannot go with that recommendation and implement it and make it work."

Not everything is up for discussion, Vasquez said, noting that, "There are certain things that cannot be on the table for them to discuss, off limits: salary, employment issues, discipline or anything that could be a liability. When it comes to discipline or evaluations or certain things along that line, those are off the table and they can't be addressed. They can be addressed in another manner, a separate manner than this. They'll have their own little board or committee to go by."

Vasquez said the Shared Leadership program was passed to him by Lt. Scott Sjerven. "I gave it to Lt. Kent Horn (who was named acting chief after Cervantes resigned) and he's going to meet with Lt. Frank Alanis.

"They're going to look at it and they're going to educate themselves on it and then when I start Monday, we're going to sit down and we're going to discuss how we can make this work, see if we can implement this in such a way that 1) it works and 2) that it's really understood that it's a recommendation, it's not an absolute. And they have to understand the final decision does rest with the chief.

"But barring those things I just mentioned there's really no reason why we shouldn't follow that, those recommendations.

"I think that will improve the communication within the department.

"We lost some good officers, some good people, they had good expertise and good knowledge, whether working narcotics or traffic, just were good officers. We lost them.

"I'm hoping that we can create an environment, create a buzz within the department that not only do these guys come back, we start attracting good officers from other departments that want to come to a good place to work."


Officer retention

One reason for leaving the department some former officers gave during interviews with CG News was that complaints or suggestions from the lower ranks never seemed to make it to  former chief Cervantes' office and decisions from the chief often didn't get filtered down to the lower ranks. There was no continuity in the system, they said, noting that what was policy from Cervantes one day might not be his policy the next day.

Cervantes was asked by the City Council for his views on why officers were leaving, many to the Pinal County Sheriff's Department. His answer, in brief, was better pay and opportunities. He did not elaborate to the council on whether he had investigated why the departures came about.

Vasquez has his own views on why officers might leave a department.

"There's only two or three main reasons why an officer goes from one job to another," he said. "Economics is one of them, they'll go for higher pay. Or they're not satisfied or happy where they're at, with the working conditions. And there's no lateral or upper movement, or very little for them. They're going to go where the working conditions are better and they have better opportunities, either for advancement or lateral movement within the department to maybe work in specialty units.

"I can think of maybe seven guys that left the department while I was there (during his recent time as a volunteer aide) that went to an agency that paid less. So it was not about economics, it wasn't about better pay. It's about working conditions.

"And that's one thing that I want to focus on. 

"One of the worst things that a manager or a leader can do is be cumbersome and get in the way of the guys that are doing the work, putting so much bureaucratic stuff on them or just getting in their way, hindering them from doing their jobs.

"All these officers on the street, all they want to do is come to work, put that uniform on, put that badge on, put that gunbelt on, hop in that car and go out there and be a cop.

"My job as the chief is to stay out of their way.

"Of course, I've got to make sure they're doing it right, that's a given, but my job is to stay out of their way, give them the tools that they need to do their job, so they can go out and be police officers."

Law enforcement officers, Vasquez said, "truly care and they have a passion for what they do. And they want to go out there and truly make their communities a safe place to work.

"It's going to be my job as head of the agency, working with command staff, to ensure that they have the tools to go out and do their jobs and then get out of their way and let them do it. Let them go out and do it, let them work.

"And creating an environment where they enjoy their jobs, they have input on how that job is done."

Providing that environment in a department, Vasquez said, reduces turnover.

"The four years I was sheriff," he continued, "I had about 6 percent turnover rate or less, sometimes 4 percent. That's fairly good. When you start getting 10 percent or higher, then you've got an issue. 

"You have problems and you need to sit down and find out why are these people leaving. Is it because of money, is it something we're doing as an agency that's upset these people and making them leave. Or are we just firing a lot of people? There's various reasons why people leave.

"But when it starts getting up around 10 percent or higher, you need to start taking a serious look what those reasons are."

During one session on officer retention with the City Council, former chief Cervantes, who took office in May 2013, was asked how many people are in the Police Department.

"A hundred and 20, give or take," he replied. "I think it's 120. I think we have 80 sworn officers."

Between January and August of this year, nine sworn officers had departed, higher than 10 percent.

"Are we going to have a zero turnover rate at the Police Department?" Vasquez said during the CG News interview. "No, we're not. We're going to have a turnover rate. The people will  leave either because of for economic reasons or because they just don't want to be in law enforcement or they have to move because of family. There'll be reasons why they leave.

"But my goal is that if they leave it won't be because of something that we are doing as a command staff. It won't because they're not happy. When they leave it's going to be because it's something out of our control. It's going to be a good environment."

Former chief Cervantes told the council that he did not do exit interviews when an officer left. That is handled by the Human Resources Department, he said.

If an officer or a civilian employee leaves while he is interim chief, Vasquez said, he will want to know why.

"If there's an issue and you don't ask about it, you don't research it, you don't find out why, then you don't know that you have a problem," he continued. "If you don't sit down with them and talk to them, then how can you realize if you have an issue or you have a problem?  You can't fix it if you don't ask."

Vasquez said he intends to sit down with new hires to get to know them and outline his expectations for them, be they officers or dispatchers or records clerks or other positions.

"And if they leave (the department)," he continued, "I want to meet with them again, ask them those very same questions: why are you leaving, is there anything that we're doing that caused you to leave?

"And if they no, I will ask them what are we not doing that we can do better, where can we improve. Even if they say, well, no, I'm happy, it's great place to work, I still want to ask that question: Where are we lacking, what can we do better?"


Looking to the future

"Working under Chief Cervantes (while a volunteer aide) and seeing some of the things going on there first hand, I'm very much aware of, not all of the issues, but probably most of the issues that the officers faced there that they complained about with the former chief," Vasquez said.

"When I start Monday I'm going to have a meeting with them. 

"And it's not going to be my intent to stand up there and bash or criticize Chief Cervantes. That's the past.

"What we need to do, and I'm going to express to them, is look at the past, learn from it and look at today and move to the future. Do those things that we can do to fix, to learn from the mistakes that were made and move forward, not as individuals but as a collective group as an agency.

"It's not about me, it's not about one individual with the department. We all need to learn to think service before self. We're in this to provide a service to the public. That's the motto that's on our cards, To Protect and Serve. Service needs to be very important. Sometimes we do the protecting very well and we forget about the service. 

"It's more than just law enforcement. It's more than putting bad guys in jail. It's communicating. If we can communicate well with the community, all levels of the community both economic and social, racial, we have transparency within the Police Department.

"It's just like (today) they had Coffee With a Cop (at Villago shopping center). We used to do things like that, we get out in the neighborhoods, we knock on doors, we speak to people. We treat them well with dignity and respect. We listen to them."

That helps head off troubles, Vasquez said.

"What happened in Ferguson and St. Louis and now in Phoenix will not happen here, or hopefully won't happen here," he continued. "God forbid we have to take the life of an unknown person.

"Could that happen? Yes, it's very possible. But hopefully if we establish a good relationship -- and that's the key word, relationship -- with all aspects of this community and have transparency with them and educate, what's going on in Ferguson and Phoenix and St. Louis and New York hopefully will not happen here."


Changes coming

"Even though I'm only coming in as the interim chief, it's not my intent to come in and keep the seat warm for whoever does it full-time, whether that be me or somebody else," Vasquez said. "That's chair's not going to be warm just waiting for him to come in.

"We're going to make changes. We're going to move this department forward as a team, as a collective effort. If change needs to be made, we're going to make that change. We'll make all the improvements that we can.

"My goal is if it's not me that's permanent but a new chief comes in, when he comes in the past mistakes are fixed, they're taken care of. He's coming in to a well-oiled machine, a very well run department with high morale and good working conditions, with a good, solid foundation.

"It has a solid foundation, anyway, even under the former chief. He didn't crack that foundation. There's some good people there that really care about the job, they care about the profession that they're in. So that foundation is still solid. But there's going to be some building blocks that are going to be put in place so the next chief can continued building, building upon, in order to continue moving the department forward.

"The department always has to move forward, it always has to have new thinking, new ways to do things. When we think we've arrived and we stop trying to improve, even though something's working very well, if we stop trying to improve things then we become stagnant. And then we start moving back.

"We always have to keep looking at different ways, better ways, to improve what we're doing in providing the service that people expect."

Some previous officers interviewed by CG News said they lost faith in former chief Cervantes because he never seemed to want to take responsibility if something went wrong, preferring to blame someone else.

Vasquez said that if something were to go wrong during his tenure, "Just stand up and say we had a policy failure, or we have a training issue or whatever the issue may be, this is what happened and this is what we're going to do to fix it, we're sorry, and go on."


Captain positions

When Cervantes was appointed as chief he reorganized the department, demoting the three lieutenants from the command staff just under him and bringing in two captains, men he previously knew, to be his seconds. The City Council approved a $250,000 appropriation for that.

One of the captains, Todd Hanley, departed this October. A terse email sent to department employees and some city officials said: "Effective October 17, 2014, Captain Todd Hanley will no longer be an employee of the Casa Grande Police Department." No details were given.

The other captain, J.D. Parrow, resigned the same day as Cervantes quit.

Both positions remain vacant.

"I've got some options I'm looking at," Vasquez said. "I'm going to sit down with staff, sit down with the city manager, weigh the options, but those will be filled. We're not going to wait for the new chief, whoever that may be, we're going to fill those as soon as possible.

If we're going to succeed, we have to."

In the meantime, Vasquez said, he will rely heavily on the lieutenants.

"I've got three lieutenants that are very capable of doing their jobs," he continued.

"There was a disconnect, I think, between the former chief and those lieutenants, he wasn't using them to their full extent of what he could use them for. We're going to do that. They're getting a paycheck, they've got the bars on their collars.

"They want to. Trust me, they want to go out there and be command staff, they want to be leaders in there. And so, they're going to.

"We are going to have a good, solid management team that shows unity, that shows that we're on the same page, that we're not going to be disconnected.

"When your first line employees and first line supervisors see the disconnect in the command staff and they see rifts, they start losing trust. They start losing trust not only in them, they also lose trust in the chief. They have to see that we are united and we are working together as a team.

"I'm going to put my faith and trust in these three lieutenants and the two captains, whoever they may be, that they're going to do their job and we all have a shared mission for this job. And we're all going to work together as a unit, as a team -- there's not going to be individuals.

"Once the officers see this, the civilian staff sees this, I think that'll bring them in and there's some great things we can do for the department and for the city."


Clear-cut instructions

Another complaint from former officers and some still with the department was that Cervantes was much of the time not specific in what he wanted done, along the lines of "well, let's do something like this." The lack of specifics continually caused confusion, often being garbled on the way down to the lower ranks, they said.

It will be different now, Vasquez told CG News.

"When we come out of a meeting, we want something done, it has to be clear cut," he said. "It will be clear cut instructions or understanding on how that has to be carried through. And it's got to be done in writing so it takes away any ambiguity, takes away any misunderstandings, it's there in black and white.

"If we come up with an action plan to accomplish a certain goal for a certain project or whatever the case may be, that's got to be put in writing, not just verbal, so it's in black and white. If they don't do it, you come back and say you're not doing it right, look, here it is.

"It doesn't have to be a big novel, either. It can be short and sweet and to the point. And it's in writing for all to see. That way there's no misinterpretation, clean black and white.

"Whether that did happen with Chief Cervantes or he just didn't communicate well or he communicated and forgot what he communicated, I don't know. But it very well could be part of what the problem was, they communicated to here and by the time it got to there it got changed because it wasn't interpreted the way maybe the way he interpreted it.

"Hopefully, we can eliminate that."


Officer evaluations

The Police Department has a computerized system known as CompStat that tracks crime and predicts where trouble spots may arise. It also tracks which officers have done what.

Some of the former officers said it was not fair to choose officers for special assignments or other recognition solely on how many traffic tickets they had written, how many arrests they had made, for example. They said officers on day shift have a lot more activity than do those on the overnight graveyard shift, but Cervantes apparently chose to go by statistics only.

Vasquez told CG News that while he was a volunteer aide "one of the complaints I heard was, besides doing that, CompStat was being used to evaluate employee against employee, or shifts or different things along that way.

"What I want to do is take that part of it out. 

"I want to use CompStat for what it's intended for, to address problem areas within the community, make sure it's a safe place. That's what it's designed for, keep CompStat for that.

"In my interview for this job, I kind of addressed that issue. And that was brought up to me that it was used, based on the stats, for who gets the best shifts and stuff like that. We need to kind of stop that."

In evaluating an employee, Vasquez said, "you don't evaluated him pitting him against another employee. Different people, different personalities, different shifts. They all have different things.

"You can't compare someone who's working day shift and compare that with someone who works graveyard when the city's folded up and went to sleep, and say OK, why aren't you doing what he's doing? And they punish him on the shift because his traffic, for example, that he's working is different, it's not the same. 

"It's just like when you look at crime stats for a community. One of the worst things you can do is compare your crime stats with another community. They used to do that in the past, by communities that are the same size you are and compare your crime stats with them. Well, there's other factors. What affects this community may differ in the personality, the demographics, what's around it, what we're going through, the economy, our ethic breakdown and everything else is different than, say Maricopa or Apache Junction. Different issues, so you can't compare. It's like comparing two kids to each other, you can't do that, different personalities.

"What you do is you compare that employee or the city to themselves, how they're performing from how they performed a year ago to this day. Did they improve, are they doing better, is it getting worse.

"You look at that employee and you get a baseline on him and you compare him against himself in his own job performance. To me, that's a fairer way to go, check them against himself or herself.


Officers on Patrol

Another complaint from former and some present officers was that while they wanted to try to maintain five or six officers on the streets during a Patrol shift to cover a city of 50,000, Cervantes would take some off Patrol to fill slots in his special projects. At one point, one of the former officers said, Cervantes told them he didn't think the city needed more than two officer patrolling during a shift.

Officers also complained that Cervantes had closed the four-unit traffic enforcement detail, or Motors Unit, taking officers from there for his projects.

As Vasquez sees it, all areas of pubic safety need to be taken into consideration, not pulling from one to augment another.

"You can't forget one aspect of law enforcement and start that on others," he said. "You can't put it on the backs of Patrol to carry out traffic detail, because they're busy handling calls for services, running from one call to the next, how busy they are, they may not have time to work traffic.

"So you've got to have that specialty unit there, that's all they do is address the traffic issue, be it one motor unit or two motors. We've got to have something there to address the traffic issue or we'll be having accidents, fatalities, gratuitous fatalities, it won't be a safe place to drive.

"One of the things that we need to look at, because we are a full service law enforcement agency, is besides catching the criminal side of it, it's got to be number one, first priority, to make sure that the city is a safe place to live.

"We've also got to make sure that it's a safe place to drive. This noontime driving up Florence Boulevard, Pinal Avenue, the downtown area is quite congested, almost like being in Phoenix and the West Valley.

"I don't know if we'll go back to the full complement of what we had on Motors, the traffic unit, but at least have something.


Vasquez's future

Are you going to apply for permanent chief? CG News asked Vasquez.

"I want to," he replied, but pointed out that he actually doesn't now work for the city but for a consulting firm. "I work for the consulting firm, they're the ones that are really my employer, the city is the client.

"If the city asks me or asks them to allow me to apply, I will.

"I can't solicit the job under the terms of my contract. But if the city goes to the guy that I work for and says we would like for him to apply and he gives me permission to apply, I will."


Former sheriff Chris Vasquez selected as interim Casa Grande police chief 

(DEC. 16 NOTE: Vasquez has since clarified that the city press release below identifying him as interim police chief was in error. He said the actual title is public safety manager.)


(Posted Dec. 5, 2014)


The city issued this announcement today:


City Manager Jim Thompson announced today that Christopher Vasquez will lead the Casa Grande Police Department on an interim basis effective Dec. 15. Vasquez replaces Kent Horn, who served as acting chief since former Police Chief Johnny Cervantes resigned in November.

Vasquez is no stranger to Casa Grande or Pinal County. 

He previously served as Pinal County sheriff from 2005-08 where he was responsible for planning, organizing, and directing more than 800 public safety employees with a $47 million dollar annual budget. 

Before serving as sheriff, Vasquez worked for the Casa Grande Police Department for 20 years. He began his public safety career in Casa Grande and worked his way up to lieutenant, where he developed and coordinated community-based policing programs and provided instruction and training to police officers.

“Chris has more than 35 years of experience in law enforcement and is very familiar with Casa Grande,” said Thompson. “I trust that he will do an excellent job of leading the Casa Grande Police Department while we look for a permanent replacement.”

Vasquez was recommended by an external recruitment firm that conducted a search for an interim leader. The city of Casa Grande will begin a national search to actively recruit for the position of Chief of Police, which can take several months. 

Vasquez will lead the police department until a chief of police is selected.

Vasquez has a bachelor of arts in management and a master of arts in organizational management from the University of Phoenix and is a graduate of the National Sheriffs’ Institute Command School. 

He lives with his family in Casa Grande.


Another change coming in Police Department's management?

(Posted Dec. 4, 2014)


Rumors began flying Thursday that yet another change in the Police Department is imminent.

Take your choice of the rumors:

• The morning talk was that Kent Horn, a department veteran named interim police chief after the resignation of Johnny Cervantes, would either be appointed permanent chief or was to be forced aside for someone else.

• The afternoon talk was that former Pinal County Sheriff Chris Vasquez would be appointed, to start on Jan. 15, although it was not clear whether as another interim chief or permanently.

A statement to CG News from City Manager Jim Thompson on Thursday said:

"No decision has been made yet; my intent is to make that decision either tomorrow or Monday."


Department moving ahead, tackling problems, interim chief tells officers

(Posted Nov. 21, 2014)


Lt. Kent Horn, a 26-year Police Department veteran named acting police chief on Tuesday, has sent the following message to department officers to make them aware of what will be happening after the resignation of former Chief Johnny Cervantes. Some of the items are ones that officers had complained were not being taken care of under Cervantes.


This copy was forwarded to CG News by one of the officers.


-:-


The Horn message:

 

It has been a whirlwind week and I have no doubt that I have let a couple of things slip through the cracks but we are getting a lot accomplished:

 

• We are processing 19 employee evaluations and I am in touch with Human Resources for a list of all that are outstanding. If you are aware that yours is overdue and you haven't seen it, please talk to your supervisor. We are working to put closure to several other personnel matters and the affected employees have been advised.  

• Lt. Alanis has been appointed chairman of the Discipline Advisory Board and I appointed Sgt. Gragg as the chief's selected sergeant. Lt. Alanis will be sending out requests for nominations for the remaining positions early next week. The DAB still stands in policy and we will utilize it. 

• Lt. Sjerven, Lt. Alanis and myself attended the CAD/RMS (computer-aided dispatch/records management system) Steering Committee meeting yesterday and I am very impressed with the progress made since I last attended one. My congratulations to Becky Curtis and Mike Brashier for their work. This is a million and a half dollar project that will greatly enhance the way we are able to do our business. I anticipate Becky putting out some time-lines to everyone in the near future. 

• Congratulations to Detective Reyes and Detective Duran on their selections to CID (Criminal Investigations Division). 

• Lt. Sjerven has made it clear that we will be adhering to existing written policy regarding patrol staffing levels. 

• We are going to a five district operation, dividing the existing "Charlie" district in half. We have long been aware that Charlie had twice as many calls for service and existed of a greater service population than any other district. Lt. Sjerven had done the research and has had the plan ready for some time now. Mike Brashier is projecting a Dec. 1 date for CAD to go live. There is a lot that has to be done behind the scenes with GIS and CAD for this change so I appreciate Mike's ability to expedite the project.  

• Please welcome Gator the Therapy Dog back into service representing Animal Control. 

• Command staff will be reviewing applications Tuesday and appointing a sergeant to function as the Special Operations Sergeant. 

• Sgt. Palmer will be coming to Patrol Nov. 20, where he will complete a two-week field training program. He will then take a prescheduled and well deserved vacation before taking over patrol sergeant duties at shift change. 

• Speaking of shift change, Lt. Sjerven has put out the dates and included a proposed revised schedule that will be voted on. 

• Supervisors will all be attending a staff meeting next Wednesday morning, so make sure they bring your concerns and suggestions for improvement. 

• I am going to ask Chelsea to look at the calendar to schedule the EOC room the first couple of weeks in December for three sessions of all employee meetings to accommodate as many of us as possible. My intention is to have good representation from the supervisory group at each session to discuss what is going on with the department and field questions. I have no illusion I will have all the answers but at least I will know the questions by the end of the last meeting. 

• The second annual Awards Banquet is in the preliminary planning stages.

• Lt. Alanis and I are going to devote some time next week drilling down into the budget so I will have some information about where we are at by the end of next week.

 

Well, as I said at the beginning, I'm sure as soon as I send this I will remember something I meant to include but that just comes with age. In closing I would like to especially thank Chaplain Cornelius for the inspirational message he sent to all of us. I wish he could somehow know all of the support I have already received from all of you. Other City Departments have reached out and I have received literally dozens of calls and emails from our community.  

I don't mind admitting that I felt some apprehension stepping into this position but at the same time I had the utmost confidence in the team around me and that confidence has been proven correct this week.  

Thanks to everyone!

KH


CG NEWS note: An officer in the department forwarded this response to CG News regarding the Horn message above:


This is the kind of email a chief/leader sends out. It is unfortunate that, for whatever reason, we did not see more of this over the last year. It is clear that you and Sjerven have been chomping at the bit with common sense ideas, all the while being restricted. It is comforting to know that we will not just coast into limbo.









Charlie District will be divided into two, creating a fifth patrol area.


A message to personnel from the department's chaplain

(Posted Nov. 21, 2014)


The following message was sent to Police Department personnel by Bob Cornelius, the department chaplain:


A NEW BEGINNING


Consider this a New Year’s Day message sent early like this year’s Black Friday. This week we are starting fresh. The challenges are great but we have a lot of great people in our department. Suddenly members of our leadership team have been moved into new responsibilities and we all have new opportunities to excel. We know what our mission is. We know what our principles are. We know what our core values are. A few years ago we started using the word “Team.” Now we have an opportunity to demonstrate to our city how great a team we are.

As human beings we are constantly challenged by the tension created by “status quo” and change. Most of us are comfortable with things as they are, even when we dream of what they can be. Now is the time to  honor our “NEW BEGINNING” a month early. For now let’s make this a “HAPPY NEW YEAR.”


Dr. Bob Cornelius, Chaplain


Police chief Cervantes, captain resign; Lt. Kent Horn named interim chief

(Posted Nov. 18, 2014)


Casa Grande Police Chief Johnny Cervantes and Capt. J.R. Parrow resigned today.

The announcement from City Manager Jim Thompson said:

"Today, I received notices of resignation from both Chief Johnny Cervantes and Capt. J.R. Parrow. As a result, I have appointed Lt. Kent Horn, the Police Department's highest ranking senior officer, as Acting Chief. My office, along with Human Resources, will begin the process of a search for an Interim Chief by hiring an outside firm. This process is expected to take up to 30 days. 

"Subsequent to the appointment of the Interim Chief, we will begin actively recruiting for the position of Chief. This process may take up to six months. 

"As we proceed with these steps, I ask that each of you continue to perform your duties at your highest professional levels to help your departments as we navigate through this change in leadership."

Cervantes took over as chief in April of 2013. Parrow was hired in February of this year.

Cervantes' resignation comes after a multitude of complaints from both former and present officers about his management style.

Complaints include an aloof manner toward officers; more interested in his own image than in that of the department; not being specific in his orders, causing lower supervisors to not always understand what he wanted; word not getting down to officers in the field about policies or directives; what was policy one day was not policy the next; pulling officers off of patrol duties to fill such details as the Community Response Team; arguing with lower supervisors about the number of officers needed on a patrol shift, indicating that no more than two a shift were needed; discipline in the department was uneven, favoring those the chief liked over those he didn't; Cervantes had one supervisor as his spy, reporting to him what officers were saying.

An initial list of the complaints was sent to Cervantes by CG News, asking him if he wished to comment. No reply was received.

Because of officer complaints and unrest, a mediator was apparently called in to discuss the issues. The city has remained quiet about the progress of those negotiations.


Scroll down for earlier stories about complaints and department changes. Those are complaints only, not the result of any formal investigation.


A background story on what the four final police chief candidates told the public during the hiring process is filed under Archives.


The official city announcement is HERE


Initial story about hiring of Cervantes is HERE


J.R. Parrow background is HERE


Todd Hanley background is HERE


The department has been dogged by other issues since Cervantes arrived in April of last year.

It was decided that there should be two captains in the command structure rather than three division commanders.

Two men, J.R. Parrow and Todd Hanley, were hired for the positions, bumping the former commanders down to lieutenant. The first announcement was that the move was not a demotion but merely a realignment.

Then it was announced that the men dropped to lieutenant would also have their pay cut, something not mentioned at the start.

One of the men resigned, the two remaining officers hired an attorney and are in legal discussions with the city.

Another officer, passed over on his application for a captain slot, hired an attorney to press an Equal Opportunities Employment Commission complaint, also now being negotiated with the city.

Another complaint from officers is that both of the new captains were longtime friends of Cervantes from when he was a commander in the Scottsdale Police Department and were selected on that basis, not on merit.

Officers said that the performance of one of them, Hanley, was such that he had to have his probation period extended.

On Oct. 13, a terse email circulated within the department and to some city officials saying, "Effective October 17, 2014, Captain Todd Hanley will no longer be an employee of the Casa Grande Police Department."

No further details have been given by the department or by city management.

No details have been released about Parrow's resignation.

The search for a new chief to replace Bob Huddleston drew 77 applications, narrowed to four who were brought to Casa Grande for interviews. They are Cervantes; Andre Anderson, a commander in the Glendale, Ariz., Police Department; Christopher Cotillo, chief of the Seat Pleasant, Md., Police Department; and Charles Padgett, interim chief of the department in West Allis, Wis.

That was later narrowed to Cervantes and Anderson.

Officers said Anderson was more of a "cops' cop.' Officers said that while Anderson visited the department and rode along on patrol to get a sense of the community and what officers were facing, Cervantes spent his time at City Hall and attending City Council meetings. His appearances at City Hall began months before the formal application process began, they said, leading them to belief that he had the inside track as the favorite of City Manager Jim Thompson.

During the public presentations by the four applicants, one said privately that he had just overheard someone from city management say that Cervantes had already been selected. That meant that the appearance by the four before the public was a sham, he said.


Communication from the top down continues to be a problem, cop says

(Posted Nov. 7, 2014)


Complaints from present and former officers have contended that word from the top in the Police Department does not always make its way down to officers on the street, or that by the time it reaches them it is sometimes garbled.


It must be understood that what officers have offered to CG News are complaints of things as they see them, not the result of any formal investigation.


Chief Johnny Cervantes has been invited to comment on officer complaints to CG News, but has not done so.


This comment was received Saturday from a cop:


I have been following this and seen where there are numerous references to sergeants not communicating Cervantes' direction or orders.

I do not wish for any more misunderstanding, as I have been in those meetings where any question is answered by a question and the shouting of "Are you on board or not?!" or "That decision has not been made yet!"

Supervisors are chastised for speaking up or asking questions and talked down to. Once identified as not following blindly they are placed on a blacklist. 

It is true that questions are answered with questions or outright rage. 

Supervisors can all sit in the same meeting and leave to congregate in the hallway to ask, "What did he just say?" No wonder the line level troops are confused.

It seems line level blames supervision but supervision are excluded from whatever it is he is trying to do. 


Another officer outlines his reasons for leaving CG Police Department

(Posted Nov. 6, 2014)



Another former police officer has talked with CG News about his reasons for being among those leaving the Casa Grande Police Department, saying he took a $500-a-month pay cut to go to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

As with the two earlier stories about police officer complaints, it should be kept in mind that these are complaints, not documented investigations. 

A list of earlier complaints, without officer names, was sent to Chief Johnny Cervantes, asking if he wished to comment on them. He has not done so.

The latest complaints are:

• Contrary to a statement to the City Council by Cervantes that his department does not do exit interviews, the officer said he had, in fact, sat down with Cervantes and told him exactly why he was leaving. He said he also had a face-to-face session with City Manager Jim Thompson.

• The officer said one of his reasons for leaving was the feeling of low morale in the department because of changes Cervantes has been making. Nothing really got done, he said, adding that, "my morale was not going to stay high very long."

• Officers have called in sick because they did not want to come to work in that situation, he said.

• When several officers left for the Sheriff's Office at about the same time, he said, former Capt. Todd Hanley told other officers that the departing ones were lazy and that the department could do without them. 

Hanley has since suddenly left the department, with no reason given.

A terse email sent within the department and to some city officials said only that, "Effective October 17, 2014, Captain Todd Hanley will no longer be an employee of the Casa Grande Police Department."

• There was a major communications problem within the department, he said, as have others, with "word not getting down (to line officers), different things thought by different squads."

During a presentation to the City Council, Chief Cervantes outlined the Community Response Team he started, pointing out that it was designed to go into neighborhoods where there were problems, such as on the west side of the city, knocking on doors and meeting people. He said the team was having success.

The departed officer said that was not always the case. The team began on the west side, he said, but was also in areas where there was not a heavy crime problem. Also, he said, in some areas of the city rather than knocking on doors the officers merely drove up and down the streets.

Cervantes told the council that members of the team were chosen from among highest performing officers.

The departed officer said, as have others, that that was not always true, that in at least one case the officer chosen was at the bottom of his squad in productivity, yet was assigned to the team.

The departed officer, as did others interviewed, said that officers were pulled off of patrol duties to fill the team, shorting the number of officers on a shift.

To help fill the gap, the officer said, officers assigned to the state immigration and gang task force were taken away from the group to go onto patrol duties,

Chief Cervantes told the council that as part of his incentives program, an awards banquet was held to honor outstanding performance in the department.

The departing officer, though, said that the winners were chosen by Cervantes himself and not always from the list of nominations made by fellow officers.

The officer said he told the chief that he did not come to the department looking for incentives, but simply to do his job, something he was doing long before the incentives program began.


Scroll down for earlier stories that include comments made by Chief Cervantes during his presentations to the City Council.


Answers about Police Department mediation needed, Councilman Montoya says;
Councilman Powell urges patience, allowing the process to work its way through

(Posted Nov. 3, 2014)


Some further answers are needed about what is going on in the Casa Grande Police Department, especially about the mediation sessions between officers and Chief Johnny Cervantes, Councilman Karl Montoya said at the end of Monday night's City Council meeting.

That was echoed by Councilman Matt Herman. 

Councilman Dick Powell, however, called for patience to let the mediation work itself out.

Montoya, addressing City Manager Jim Thompson, said, "I'm still thinking that still a lot of unanswered questions with the police mediation process, especially from council and I'd like to see some process of answering those questions we left here last time come forward. 

"I'd like to see some plan or some timeline come forward to see where we're at, see what we're doing. 

"I'm still concerned about some of the things that are going on, I'm still getting phone calls from citizens, as well. The customer service portion of this is really dragging on. 

"I mean, I've come to you with some questions and concerns about that and so I'd like to just see a lot of things answered and put some timeline on this. 

"I mean, it's sad to say that we can put four guys on a fire truck but we can't put four cops on the street. I mean, that's the common theme out there and it's sad to say. 

"We need to get on top of this and I think just a better communication to us, to the community would be very welcomed."

Staffing on police shifts has been an issue with some officers, who have told CG News that at times there could be as few as three officers and a supervisor on a shift, down from what was once the standard of five or six officers and a supervisor. Another officer told CG News that at one point Chief Cervantes had said he felt that two officers on a shift would be adequate. Cervantes has not responded to the CG News stories about officer complaints.

Neither the city nor the Police Department have made statements about the mediation and what issues are being discussed.

Councilman Dick Powell took a different view than Montoya.

"I just would say I think that I'm really happy that we have the kind of process going on that we do right now between the president of the union for the police officers and with the chief for the city with a mediator there and trying to identify," he said.

"I think the Police Department has been pretty well visited with initially and they'll come back and do that. So I think that it's certainly a really good effort and I hope for people to have patience while they're going through that, because I think it's going to prove to be very rewarding, hopefully, results from the mediation."

Councilman Matt Herman said he would like to echo Montoya's request.

"I'd really like to see the results of what's going on," he said.

At that point, Mayor Bob Jackson said he didn't want to cut off the conversation but was getting warning looks from City Attorney Brett Wallace.

"Better or worse, if it's not on the agenda we can't discuss it," Jackson said.

The statements from the three councilmen came at the end of the meeting during the time allocated for reports, questions or requests. An issue may be brought up, but if it is not on the agenda it cannot be discussed at length.

State law covers that, enacted so that a council cannot suddenly start discussing or acting on something that wasn't on the agenda and the public knew nothing about."

There was no comment from City Manager Thompson.


Scroll down for earlier stories about Police Department issues, including a Police Advisory Board story outlining unhappiness of officers at a meeting they thought would be for mediation but turned out to be to discuss the department's strategic plan.


OCT. 26 UPDATE

(Posted Oct. 26, 2014)


After the initial story on Casa Grande Police Department officer complaints (below), two more officers have contacted CG News.


As noted in the original story, these are complaints, not findings from an investigation.


The complaints are:


1. Concerning officers who have departed: Cervantes never took time to find out who the officers in the department are and what experience or capabilities they have. He does not know our policies or history. Appearance is more important than substance or quality. 


2. When special details such as the Community Response Team were set up, that meant officers were taken off of patrol duties to fill the slots. A complaint is that at one time the policy called for five or six officers and a supervisor on each citywide patrol shift, now often reduced to perhaps three cops and a supervisor. That creates safety concerns among officers.


Complaints from some Casa Grande cops compiled;
no response from chief on offer for him to comment

(Posted Oct. 24, 2014)


Following talks with present and former Casa Grande Police Department officers about officers leaving the department for other agencies, CG News compiled the main complaints those officers had about the department. 


Protocol for the department is for the media to work through the public information officer on issues concerning the PD or requests to Chief Johnny Cervantes. That is standard procedure in many departments.


The list, below, was sent to Thomas Anderson, the PIO, asking if the chief wished to comment.


As of today's requested deadline, the department has remained silent.


The original emailed request is below:

The list of complaints, with one name withheld until records can be checked, is below.


It should be kept in mind that these are complaints, not documented investigations. That was the reason for requesting comments from Chief Cervantes.



1. Biggest complaint heard is that directives from the chief do not trickle down to officers on the street in a clear and concise manner. Officers said that many times people passing the orders along said they believed that is what the chief wants, but he wasn't clear. Sergeants are saying what they're passing on is how they interpret the rather vague orders from the  chief.


2.  There is a general communications issue within the department, seeming because of lack of leadership and lack of movement.


(Scroll down to earlier story titled "Council comments about Police Department losses aren't all favorable" for comments from City Council and Chief Cervantes about communication within the department.) 


3. (Name withheld by CG News until the records can be examined) falsified his time card for Operation Stonegarden, a federal grant program, and doctored other records to make it look like he was working, such as traffic stops, citations. Even with all that, he was allowed to resign. Officer Christofferson, however, was fired after the department strung together a list of non-fireable offenses to make a case of it.


4. The department is getting bogged down by finger pointing and blaming, with no one seemingly willing to accept responsibility.


5. Chief doesn't seem to want to go to briefings to personally lay out what he wants. Rarely appears.


6. Chief is not that involved with CompStat (a computerized policing and tracking program), telling officers that's your project, decided long before I arrived.


7. If an officer talks to a City Council member, the chief wants a written memo on what was discussed.


8. Officers are afraid to speak up for fear of repercussions.


9. If the chief is questioned, he answers the question with a question, doesn't seem to want to discuss officer concerns. 


10. The feeling among officers is that if you come in with a complaint, you'd better have a solution or you will be brushed off.


11. Chief flies off the handle at times and will storm out of briefings.


12. Chief is extremely sensitive about his own image, seemingly more interested in that rather than the overall image of the Police Department.


13. The chief has one person who carries tales to him, feeding him information about what officers are saying or complaining about.


14. The number of internal affairs investigations over what are minor incidents has shot up. A private attorney was hired for an investigation of one officer.


15. The Community Response Team was said to have been staffed with officers who have the highest stats, least public complaints, but officers who had even higher stats were not chosen. Some who were chosen had a higher number of complaints. 


16. Four out of five of the departing officers were on the Community Response Team.


(Scroll down to story titled "Incentives and recognition important factors for retention, chief says" for the chief's comments about the Community Response Team.)


17. There is no use in having a departmental discipline matrix if it is not enforced evenly. Officers feel it is often overridden by the chief in favor of certain people he likes.


18. There is some hard feeling over the "pick your shift" preference for higher producing officers. Not all of the cops wanted to change to another shift, others did not want to give up the shift they had had for years.


(Scroll down to story titled "Incentives and recognition important factors for retention, chief says"  for the chief's comments about the pick your shift plan.)


19. There is a culture around the chief of overbearing secrecy; nothing is said about anything unless he absolutely has to.


20. The two captains were hired because they are acquaintances of the chief, rather than on merit. Capt. Hanley's performance was such that he had to have his probation period extended.


(CG News note: Hanley has now left the department. No announcement for the reason has been given and a CG News request has not been responded to.)



UPDATE:

A list of complaints and observations from present and former Casa Grande Police Department officers during conversations with CG News has been sent to Chief Johnny Cervantes to see if he wishes to comment. The deadline for comment is Oct. 24. If no comment is received, the story will run without.


After nine months, captain leaving CG Police Department

(Posted Oct. 13, 2014)


Todd Hanley, one of two captains brought into the Casa Grande Police Department in February as part of Chief Johnny Cervantes' reorganization, including implementing the strategic plan, is departing.

The terse email sent today to department employees and some city officials said:

"Effective October 17, 2014, Captain Todd Hanley will no longer be an employee of the Casa Grande Police Department."

No further details have been given.


Reports: Strategic plan update meet didn't go well

(Posted Oct. 11, 2014)


Story on tabling of letter of support for police chief follows this story.

Earlier stories about the strategic plan update and officers leaving the department are below that.


The two meetings at the Police Department were supposed to be sessions to discuss the police strategic plan and whether it needed to be amended or updated.

It didn't work out that way, the Police Advisory Board was told Thursday night.

"To be quite frank, it did not go very well," Chief Johnny Cervantes told the board.

Board member Rodolfo Calvillo said, "I felt the sense of haphazardness, if you will, for lack of a better word."

Board Chairman Mike McBride said, "There was a couple of factions that were unhappy with each other and they brought their opinions out in that forum, which didn't quite seem like the right forum. No one quite had any ideas or put out anything that was very useful, at the end of it."

It was reported earlier that the morning session was to be with those people who worked on the original strategic plan in 2011 to discuss how that plan fits in with today's department, with the afternoon session being to discuss issues within the department.

Those meetings were not open to the public or media, including CG News.

They were the outgrowth of two strategic plan updates presented to the City Council by Cervantes.

(See those stories below)

As Cervantes recalled it to the board, "I presented an update to the strategic plan and there was six strategic focus areas that I was going through. At the end of that meeting there was a lot of questions regarding retention. And so they requested another study session and based on the questions that I was receiving I believed that they wanted to know more about the retention issue at that study session, so I did update them on the retention issue.

"And there was some discussion about those issues as I presented them, and so from that it was determined that we would bring in an individual to talk about updating the strategic plan, because there was a question about whether this was the direction that we intended for the strategic plan, if I'm quoting that correctly."

That person was Carl Neu, the consultant who oversaw the original strategic plan.

"And he came in and that's when I invited the board members to attend, and I do know that two of you (Calvillo, McBride) did take up that offer to attend," Cervantes said.

"The morning session, I was not allowed to attend that session and so I believe both of you were in attendance at that. I couldn't speak to that because I was not in that session. There was an afternoon session that I believe that Mr. Calvillo also attended."

The point of the sessions, Cervantes said, was to update the strategic plan, or at least talk about the plan.

"To be quite frank, it did not go very well," Cervantes said. "There was a lot of dissatisfaction with the plan. I understood there was a lot of dissatisfaction with the person (Neu) that was attending and facilitating the session, at the afternoon session.

"Essentially, it didn't go very well, just to put it politely. It did not go very well as far as the planning process."


Little got done

McBride said the morning session he attended with Calvillo was much the same.

"There was a couple of factions that were unhappy with each other and they brought their opinions out in that forum, which didn't quite seem like the right forum," he said. 

"Most of the people said they had no idea why they were there. They said it had nothing to do with the strategic plan. That was the gist of what I've gotten out of it."

McBride continued that, "We did talk about the strategic plan, we attempted to address some of the issues, the main issues of the strategic plan, and see what had gone right with it, what hadn't gone right with it and we really never got to those points. It just never developed. They all agreed to disagree, pretty much toward the end.

"No one quite had any ideas or put out anything that was very useful, at the end of it."

Calvillo said he was "taken aback by it all.

"The process, to me, was haphazard, almost. It did seem that most people had little, if any, awareness. And there was a lot of complaint and voicing of we didn't know this was coming, we just got a day or two notice and, boom.

"First it was this and next it was that. I felt the sense of haphazardness, if you will, for lack of a better word."

"What I gathered from the body of people there, there was a group that basically said that, you know this strategic plan was happening in 2011 through 2016 and there's nothing been done and it's the situation where why all of a sudden are we talking about it now and it appears to be a political football, if you will, and somebody is stirring the pot."

Calvillo said there was also complaint about it not being the department's strategic plan in the first place. That apparently stemmed from Neu bringing to the 2011 beginning sessions the strategic plan for the Sierra Vista Police Department, which he also facilitated.

Nothing was wrong with that, per se, Calvillo said, given that examples of other plans are often brought to planning sessions to show what other agencies have done.

However, "I think I gathered from some of the officers that the feeling was this was a document that they tried to provide us as our strategic plan. And the feeling was, we're not Sierra Vista, we don't have the same issues. We may have similar issues, but those are not our issues. And the feeling was that whomever it was that was recording (writing suggestions down) and that should have been documenting input ineffectively recorded the information.

"And then rather than to record what was being said by the participants, officers, etc., that person just said, here, this is what went on, using the Sierra Vista document, which then left an awful lot of the officers feeling, where's our input, it never came out. There were officers saying we had input but it's not here, it's not in this document."

There was also the question of why Neu was back for the two sessions, Calvillo said.

"Then there was overtures about there is some kind of cronyism going on," Calvillo continued. They were trying to pin him down as to how are you here, why are you here, who is it that you were called by, and when was the notice going out that we were going to have this? 

"And he intimated that he was here because he was here on another matter or would be close by and he had told the city manager that I can be available at this time, therefore he would be here."

Calvillo continued, "In my conversation with him at the second meeting, after he was basically called to the carpet and there were overtures made about him, he said, you know what -- and he told me personally -- I'm going to tell the administrator here for the city I'm not going to do it anymore, I do not want to be a part of it, I don't want to move forward with it, they need to find somebody else, because they're making it look like I did a bad job and I'm not going to be saddled with that bad job. We did it with good intent, we did it with normal practices, etc., etc., and there were others who didn't."

Calvillo said Sgt. Dave Engstrom was at the afternoon session "and basically, I think, decided to nip it in the bud and said, you know what, we're not talking about what we're not talking about. There are those who have issues and there are those who have other issues and this is not the forum, this is what (Neu) was brought here for.

"And it was just like there were issues being brought up that were not relevant to the process and moving the process forward."

A strategic plan is needed, Calvillo said.

"Any corporation, any entity, has to have a map of where you're going," he said. "If you haven't a map of where you're going, then what are you doing? Just sliding out.

"You're going to come in every day and have your staff meeting and let the officers go. They have to know how they're expected to be measured.

"And there are others saying the measurements are not there, that they're being forced into doing things that they wouldn't normally do.

"I just found a lot of discord. I'm sorry, but that's kind of what it was."


Cervantes clarification

At that point, Cervantes said he wanted to clarify a few points.

"I got hired in April 2013 and the strategic plan that was in place was the plan that had been started by Chief Huddleston, and that was approved," he said. "It certainly was the plan that I had the understanding that this was what we were going to take forward.

"And I know (CG News) did a whole piece on the strategic plan update in which several council members expressed their concern about the plan implemented. 

"In fact, council member (Lisa) Fitzgibbons actually talked about how it is important for me as the new chief to understand how much money was spent on this plan and a big piece of it was that they wanted action and accountability.

"At one of the council retreats shortly after I got here several council members expressed that, hey, this is the plan and we expect that the chief implement this plan.

"And so fast-forward to today, that's what I was doing, was implementing the strategic plan."

(Details of the two study sessions are in the stories below)

Cervantes said that after the second study session, "there was some direction from the city manager, from Jim Thompson, my boss, that we were going to do this strategic plan update by Mr. Neu. That's the one I invited you to.

"We did that update (meetings) and at the conclusion of that, as I mention and as we're intimating here, it didn't go very well.

"The only thing I could tell you at the conclusion of that, Mr. Neu indicated that we had our work cut out for us and that he was going to report back to (city) council members about that session. So he did, from my understanding, report that back to the council and at that point in time there was some direction to the city manager about next steps. That part I can't talk about because I wasn't privy to that information."

If Neu did brief the council it was done in private. He has not appeared during a public City Council meeting.

Cervantes said the next thing was "I received direction that we were going to bring in a second individual in the process as a mediator.

"Once again, the information that I have is very limited. All I know is this was an agreement between the city manager and, I believe, the (cops) labor organization to bring in this individual. I have no knowledge of who this individual was. I was pretty much told that, hey, we're were going to bring a second individual in to mediate.

"I don't know what the issues are. The only issue I know, according to Carl Neu, that he reported to council, was that people were dissatisfied with the strategic plan, and that the second component was that before you can implement a strategic plan there was some deep-rooted issues that need to be addressed.

"Those are the two things that I'm aware of. And right now we're in the process of going through this other individual that was hired to come in and work through that."


What deep-rooted issues?

Board member Johnjaline Cully asked if the chief was told what those deep-rooted issues are.

"At that point in time, I was not," Cervantes replied. 

"Again, we're still going through the process. The only two issues I was pretty clear on were that, according to Mr. Neu, that that's what he reported to council, was that the strategic plan was not be able to deal with until the department addressed whatever these deep-rooted issues were."

Calvillo said what concerned him was, "and it was said by many, this started in 2011 and here we are 2014. And to me, if there was dissatisfaction with strategic plan as it was purported to have been from and with the department representing them, what happened in that lapse of time that they didn't bother to discuss it or bring it to the city manager and say, hey, listen. this plan really does not reflect our input, how could anyone have presented and ratified it, and why did they wait until 2014 to all of a sudden say, what are you doing, make it appear that this is your plan? This was the way I took it."

McBride said that, "In the first session we were both at, there was someone who actually sat there and said, I was part of the planning for the first one and when they brought the plan back to us and we read it, it wasn't what we had discussed. They said this was not the plan that we had put over and done, but then they implemented it anyway."

Cervantes said the strategic plan was one of the things that attracted him to Casa Grande.

"It was a very assertive and a very progressive plan," he said. "And to me, I thought it was a good plan in terms of those six strategic focus areas."

Those six areas are:

• Reduction in crime and increase traffic safety.

• Increased departmental productivity and proactive performance.

• Highly effective communications and organizational alignment.

• Innovating use of technology, facilities and organizational elements.

• Exemplary recruitment, selection and retention of human resources.

• Enhanced training and organizational development.

"Now, we can all have the objective of different goals and how to achieve those focus areas, but that's one of the reasons that I came here, from reading that that was the plan," Cervantes said.

"And based on the coverage that (CG News) did, yeah, that's the direction I got: that this is the plan, understood that 40 members of the department from across the board came together and said that this was the plan that we want to implement, this is our mission, this is our vision, these are six strategic focus areas and these are the objectives and the goals.

"And so clearly, based on that, I felt that that message was clear, that this was the department's plan. We put that out to the community, we put that on our website. And that's what I've been doing, was trying to implement that plan and that's why I was giving the updates (to the council). I gave specific details as to what I was giving and I never got to complete it (time ran out) but then it went off in a different direction and that's kind of where we're at right now. 

"I didn't complete (presenting) the entire plan and it was clear that there was an area of concern that council had was retention, and rightly so, I fully understand that, and so we focused on touching on, OK, let's talk about that, let's talk about what is going on with retention.

"At the conclusion of that, that's when the other direction was given to me and that's where we're at right now."

Calvillo said another thing that bothered him was, "It seemed to me, and there was an issue that was brought up in the meeting in the morning: where is the chief and where are the two new commanders? Why aren't they sitting here in this process? 

"And then someone said the chief was here but he was asked to leave. Someone asked who asked him to leave? Mr. Neu is hearing all this but he's not saying anything that he asked him to leave.

"It was kind of like my feeling was if that's what we're here to talk about it, who better to do it than you (Cervantes) and command staff who's going to have to be accountable for its implementation.

"He never would say why he asked you folks to leave.

"I said, well, I didn't see the chief but I did see Todd (Hanley), a commander, and I hadn't seen J.R. (Parrow)," the other commander.

"So I thought, well, this is strange."

Calvillo continued that, "It was heated, it was lively. And bottom line, it seemed to me that rank and file felt like this is not our plan.

"Neu said if you'll go to Harold Kitching's (CG News) website, he has the real deal, he has what was  discussed, he has what was put on there. He said you can read it for yourself, he has it."


Apology from Cervantes

Cervantes repeated that he was not at the morning session, "but I do understand that there was, from the accounts that I've heard, some unprofessional behavior and I apologize for that, because we had two (police) board members, community members, in there. That's not the organization that we need to have at the Casa Grande Police Department. For that, I do apologize.

"But to me, that was what the plan was designed to do, to have more accountability, have a more professional organization, and once again I apologize. 

"That carried over into the second meeting in the afternoon, and obviously I had to stand up and say, hey, this gentleman here (Neu) is not at fault, he was brought here by city leadership to work through this strategic plan update.

"To be quite frank, I was not happy with the conduct in that room that day."

As Calvillo sees it, "They wanted to tar and feather, basically. They really did. They were looking for a rail to put him (Neu) on.

"And it went as far as to make overtures of cronyism. And it was kind of like, what credentials do you bring to the table that you could do this, and then why did you bring Sierra Vista's to the table and say here it is?

"The invitation was somewhat convoluted as to what was going to happen in the morning, what was going to happen in the afternoon. It appeared that it was going to be identical presentations, then then at the end it was kind of like, now it's going to be different. So that's when I decided I'm coming back (to the afternoon session)."

Later in the meeting, Calvillo told Cervantes, "My feeling is, I happened to be there and I happened to hear the discord.

"Your apology is unnecessary, for you to apologize for the behavior of those who act it out as they will. I've seen children act differently.

"My feeling is it reflects on the department. But more than that, it reflects on the officers."

Calvillo commended Sgt. Engstrom for saying during a session that enough was enough, that the session was not concentrating on why it was called.

"I commend you for saying that in front of your fellow officers," he told Engstrom, who was in the audience.

"It was basically to either put up or shut up. This was not the forum of what it was intended to be."


Officer retention

Board member Cully asked if there is an issue with officer retention.

Cervantes replied that as he had mentioned to the City Council during the study session, "I think there's a variety of factors that impact retention.

"This is not a department issue, this is an organization issue, a city issue, it's a Pinal County issue, and so there's a lot of factors that impact retention. That's what I presented and obviously we're trying to figure out why we keep good people, that's the whole point.

"But as far as I'm concerned, the plan that was implemented was there to try to address those issues, it's already covered in the plan as one of those six strategic focus areas (listed above).

I looked at this document and I said, well, obviously these are the list of issues that the city wants to address from their Police Department. Otherwise, I wouldn't have stated them out.

"So those are the issues that the department was facing at the time and long term, because those never go away, you're always going to be doing those issues. So that's what we've tried to implement, that's what we were trying to focus on.

"Obviously, you're never done with it, you're just coming up with different objectives and different goals as things evolve and as things change. What may have been relevant in 2013 may not be relevant in 2016, depending on the environment and what's going on in terms of crime.

"That's kind of how I took it: these are the issues, this was the plan to solve those issues, and that's what we're moving forward."

Later in the meeting, board member Diana Curtis said a story in the Casa Grande Dispatch pointed out that the Pinal County Sheriff's Office is also losing personnel to large agencies such as the Phoenix Police Department.

"And I guess they in turn were raiding from the local CG Police and Florence," she said. "So there's where a lot of your folks are going."

Cervantes responded that, "Yes, and that's a really good point. We talked about it that night (study session), as well.

"It seems like our officers migrate to the county when there's opportunities there and then it seems like officers migrate to some of the Valley agencies from the county."

During the study session, Cervantes said, "We talked about Phoenix PD, they are going to be hiring 300 police officers in the next three years, so on a per year we are going to probably lose officers to them, there's that potential. It's not just here, this is throughout the Valley, the Scottsdale PD, Chandler PD, Gilbert PD. 

"It's a natural phenomenon that occurs within law enforcement when these opportunities become available, because the smaller agencies can't compete with the pay and the benefits and the opportunities that these bigger organizations provide. 

"And I think to some degree we're probably going to have to get used to the fact that Casa Grande might be the training ground for some of these bigger organizations. 

"It's no different than in the teacher field, in the teaching professions. And we're seeing that. There was another article about that recently, about having to hire international teachers because they can't get enough qualified teachers from the United States to come here to teach. So those are opportunities.

"So anyway, you're absolutely correct. These are some of the dynamics that are going to be challenging for not only the Police Department but the city and overall Pinal County. That's just going to happen."

Calvillo said he had heard about people leaving the Police Department "and my feeling is, anyone who has a job -- unless they're run out -- they have the opportunity to say I'm going to leave. Secondarily, if an opportunity presents itself, like it did to you (Cervantes, to apply to be chief) and you want to put your hat in for it and if you're accepted for that position, be it Pinal County, be it DPS or whatever other law enforcement agency, there's nothing that you as the chief can say I'm sorry, you can't take that position. That's not your call; it's their call.

"If you're looking for something different in your career, that's what you do, you go seek that opportunity, particularly if it presents itself. Do you let that opportunity go by? No. I mean, not if you really wanted a career change, or if you're dissatisfied (with present position).

"Irrespective, the window and the door is always open. You can either climb out or you can walk out."


Police Board tables letter of support for police chief

(Posted Oct. 11, 2014)


A suggestion for a letter of support from the Police Advisory Board for Police Chief Johnny Cervantes was tabled Thursday night until the request can be discussed with the city attorney as to its legalities.

"My feeling is just that there needs to be one," board member Rodolfo Calvillo said. "If anyone and everyone is comfortable with it, I will provide next week a sample, because I think it requires a letter that all of us sign saying we support the chief.

"I'm going to do one, irrespective.

"I think as a board member here who brought on to provide input and insight, I want to let (City Manager Jim) Thompson, let the mayor and let the council know what I've seen and what my feelings are, and they're not influenced by other officers or what they're feeling. 

"There are issues, I believe, that perhaps are real and I'm not going to denigrate those issues, but the thing is I have to deal with what I know and what I've seen and what my interactions have been with this board and with you (Cervantes) and your officers. And I've had good relationships."

At that point, attorney Denis Fitzgibbons, who represents the statewide police officers association and also some Casa Grande police officers who are having disputes with city management, attempted to speak.

He was told that he was not on the agenda, but public comment time is provided toward the end of the meeting.

Fitzgibbons responded that, "Typically, if an item is on the agenda people that want to speak to that item can speak to the item. I do some public law. You might have a call the public at the end, I could speak there, too, but typically if we're talking about this specific item I think it would be more productive for the board if I spoke here, if it would be OK, Mr. Chairman."

Chairman Mike McBride was hesitant. "Let me refer this back," he said.

Fitzgibbons said, "Mr. Chairman, you are the chairman of this board."

McBride answered, "I understand, sir, but I'm asking for a little guidance on this."

Several board members then began talking at once, the essence being that until there is some legal guidance from the city attorney the board should table the request.

"Table the whole thing until you have the city attorney," board member Roger Vanderpool said.

"I think we need to have city attorney. I would have made a motion anyhow to go into executive session, because there's a couple of questions I have that I would want to pose to the city attorney. And without the city attorney here, we can't into executive session because he would have to be in it. I think we ought to table the whole issue until we can consult with the city attorney.

"Now, obviously, citizens and individuals on their own as a citizen can do whatever a citizen can do, whatever a citizen is allowed to do. But given we're a body that is appointed by the City Council and the mayor, there's questions I had that I think we need to ask, I would like to ask, the city attorney to get some feedback. And I would have asked that we went into an executive session to do that."

No date was given for bringing the request back before the board.

When call to the public was announced, Fitzgibbons came back before the board.

"I've had the honor, the distinct honor, to represent police officers for probably over 15 years," he said. "I'm the attorney for AZCOPS, which is a union of law enforcement officers; we have members here in Casa Grande, we have members from Pinal County, we have members throughout the state.

"I appreciate the fact that this board tabled the letter of support, and I'm not saying that because I don't support the chief. I think Chief Cervantes has done a lot of good community outreach and I think that has been a very positive part of his administration.

"But there are issue problems when you have nine, now 11, officers that have left Casa Grande Police Department to go to the Pinal County sheriff."

Fitzgibbons said he disagrees with the statement by Cervantes earlier in the meeting that "to some degree we're probably going to have to get used to the fact that Casa Grande might be the training ground for some of these bigger (police) organizations."

Fitzgibbons continued that, "I don't believe Casa Grande needs to be a training ground. It has never been a training ground for law officers. I think some of the men in this department have started their career and ended their career (in CG department).

"It has always been, from my perspective, one of the sought after positions for the county for years; people always left Pinal County to come to Casa Grande.

"I don't believe in my 15 years of representing officers I've even known of nine Casa Grande police officers to leave Casa Grande to go to Pinal County. It's always been the other way around. 

"I think a lot of these men left for lower wages, so I think that tells you that there are some issues. And I think those issues are trying to be dealt with through this mediation process, so we appreciate the fact that you saw to it to not issue a letter of support."

If the board should later decide to issue the support letter, Fitzgibbons said, "I think you could also hear from the officers because, obviously, as the Police Advisory Board I think you represent not only the citizens of Casa Grande but I think you represent not only the administration but also the officers with boots on the ground, the men and women that go door to door and do their jobs very, very well every day.

"Casa Grande has always had an extremely good and effective department. And I'm not saying that has been lost at all under Chief Cervantes' administration. I'm saying that there has been acute people leaving, and that's an issue."

Fitzgibbons said he believes the Tucson Police Department did a study a few years ago showing that it costs that department between $100,000-plus and $150,000 "to train an officer, to take him from the training school … and get him onto the streets.

"So when you're losing over a million dollars for this experience (amount of money times number of officers who have left), that's an issue.

"And I think it's the fortitude, I think it's the insight of the city administration to try to get to the bottom of it. 

"We appreciate the fact that they have been willing to allow this process to go forward. I hope everyone proceeds in good faith through this process and hopefully that the administration and the men can resolve it. 

"But I think it should be resolved there and obviously not in front of this board."


Mediation sessions

Oct. 12 update: It was reported today that what officers were told would be Oct. 2 mediation sessions about complaints turned out to be discussions on the police strategic plan, which may have caused the confusion referred to in the strategic plan update story above.

(Posted Oct. 1, 2014)

It was reported on Wednesday, Oct. 1, that issues within the Police Department would be the subject of special mediation sessions on Thursday, Oct. 2.
Such sessions are closed to the public and media.


Council comments about Police Department losses aren't all favorable

(Posted Sept. 18, 2014)


This is the last of five articles looking at personnel leaving the Casa Grande Police Department.


CG NEWS note: Every story has more than one side. Following earlier articles on the way Police Chief Johnny Cervantes sees the issue of officers and others leaving the department, this article covers what the City Council had to say. Efforts are being made by CG News to reach out to present and just-departed officers for their views.)



The City Council had several comments, sometimes cutting, after Chief Johnny Cervantes made his special study session presentation about personnel leaving the Police Department.


Matt Herman

Councilman Matt Herman said that while he is "really proud" of some of the things the chief has done in the department, he is still concerned about the retention issue.

"You talked about empowerment and motivation and people expressing their opinion and I see all these things that you've done," Herman said, "but communication in any relationship, be it personal ones or in an organization, is the most important.

"When you're going through these things, do you think the officers are feeling empowered to open lines of communication? There's a lot of top-down stuff here, is there good bottom-up communication so that we know what this issue is?"

Cervantes responded that, "One of the challenges that every organization faces is try to get that communication from the bottom up and then from the top down.

"And we're always going to be able to do better, always, and we do need to do better.

"And I'm doing all that. At these monthly meetings we spend a lot of time talking about different issues, in terms of whatever the issue of the day is, and hopefully that gets communicated back down to the troops.

"But we recognize that because there's areas for improvement that we are going to implement something called the Chief's Cabinet. What we're going to do is get a representation, and we sent out an email to try to solicit people that are interested in that.

"What we're going to do is get individuals to meet on a monthly basis with the staff and bring up whatever the issue may be so that we can communicate with that line-level group of individuals. We're going to have some first-line supervision there, but we're going to have some line-level employees as well, both sworn and non-sworn, to try to address and improve and enhance the communication.

"And this is something we always wanted to do, it's just with everything else it's so difficult. That's the main point, and we struggle with that at times."

Herman asked if employees feel like they are in a safe environment to be able to ask questions.

"Do people feel free to express their opinions and be successful at the top of the organization and all the way down?" he asked. "Do you think it's easy for them to get to that."

Cervantes replied, "Yeah. And like I said, I think there's always areas we can do better.

"One of the challenges, that people forget, is we're a 24/7, 365-day operation, and it presents challenges on being able to do that. You'd love to be able to be out there every single day and talking to everyone and communicating with everyone, but that's why we have a structure that we have, is to promote that. And hopefully that communication does get down.

"I do think we have that ability in the briefings. Like I said, we just went around a couple of weeks ago and talked about some issues. And, yeah, they are free to express themselves and they do.

"Like I said on the one issue regarding the staffing levels, believe me, people are not afraid to express themselves. And we do encourage people every time we do that. The captains do it, I do it. We constantly tell people, hey, come and talk to us, come and talk to us. We do try to encourage these people."

Herman said that in looking over the budget, a lot of money is spent on training, "so it concerns me what's going on. Not just for the money, but for the advantage (of keeping officers) and everything else, just as a community.

"When we invest in someone, a new recruit, it could take a year essentially to get someone in, and a lot of money on the part of the city. We want to have them here for 20 years or 30 years."


Ralph Varela

Councilman Ralph Varela asked Cervantes to explain his open door policy.

"I know it is paramilitary," Varela said, "so I know there's processes in place, but I also know there's a way to have an open door. Maybe discuss what you do in terms of open door policy that kind of mitigates the down communications."

Cervantes replied that, "We do have an open door policy, but the hope is that the communication starts at the first-line supervisor level. That's really where it all begins, is that relationship. They're with these employees every single day and so if there is an issue that arises we're hoping that that communication do occur and then when we meet on a monthly basis we're hoping that information comes up in those meetings. And it does.

"Like I said, is it perfect? No. But the process is simply that we try to encourage everyone if they want to come and see us, they can. If it's a significant issue, we would rather them try to address it with a first-line supervisor because they may be able to address it at that level and then bring it up through the chain of command. As long as they notify them first and then come up and talk to us about it."

Varela asked how many employees are in the Police Department.

Cervantes answered, "A hundred and 20, give or take. I think it's 120. I think we have 80  sworn officers."

Varela said the reason he asked is that Pinal Hispanic Council, where he is director, has about 100 employees "and a lot of the cases that you've been talking about in terms of attrition and retention are all discussions that we've had with our board. Sometimes, you know, the attrition rate increases and sometimes it decreases.

"I think part of the difficulty is you've got a vision that's a year and half old. We Hispanic Council) struggle sometimes with a vision that we have that's almost 24 years old.

"And part of it is, I think, the employee buy-in, the supervisory buy-in, the communications process on how to structure."

Varela continued that, "From my opinion, what you presented is a very sound description of what you're facing, and also in terms of the solution part of things that you're looking at. I think part of the other thing is, the paradigm shift and how important it was in terms of what you're doing.

"And I think the other thing you talked about is really for our area here, as well as for our employees. Sometimes it is a training ground for metropolitan (departments), because an employee will come here and they'll get a year or two years, which is what they need, and then they realize that a salary in Phoenix and Tucson may be a 10 to 15, 20 thousand dollar difference.

"So I think part of what you've done is being able to kind of tease out everything that goes into the retention and attrition process.

"I think it takes awhile to get everybody involved, because a) you're buying into the vision and b) you've buying into the leadership. It's not an easy thing to do. I've heard, well, it's been a year and a half (since the chief was hired). You know, sometimes organizationally a year and a half, people think it's a long time, but sometimes it's not a long time.

"I commend you for what you've done and I appreciate it. Thank you.


Mary Kortsen

Kortsen said that because of a crime issue in her neighborhood, "I personally experienced the increase in the community, communications and presence. And most particularly the presence.

"In the past 12 months, the response is much larger. And not only that, but they came in afterwards, explained how we helped, how we can continue to help, and that.

"I actually have people that stop me and compliment me on the visibility and communications and reactions back and I appreciate that."

Kortsen also said, "There's always when you have had an organization where you had leadership that's been there for a very long time, there is a natural getting used to some of these new ways of approach.

"Not only that, you (Cervantes) were given basically orders from us saying we need to spend money and time on this (response to the ICMA audit) and this is your job, this is what we expected of you, and if we hired you this is what we expect.

"There's good people and talented people, but some people just don't want, change doesn't work with them."

Kortsen said she was also happy about increased training in the department.

"I would be very interested in knowing how many sworn officers who have left Casa Grande in the last 18 months were here for five or more years," Kortsen said.

"It would be interesting to me to see, because it's natural for some to say I don't want to be a piece of this, this is not working for me. I think that would say something to me about what's going on there."

That request led to the attempts by the city, described in the first story in this series, to obtain that data.


Lisa Fitzgibbons

Fitzgibbons, whose husband's law firm is representing other officers in their disputes with the city, has been vocal about what she says is a bad situation in the department but has not said publicly what the complaints are about.

After Cervantes' presentation, she said, "Chief, I appreciate going into this, but we don't know where the big issue is and some of the concerns. I know a lot of us have talked to you. So I appreciate going through this and us taking the time.

"There are some great things going on. but it is a big agency, it is a large agency. You're tasked with doing the whole thing and making it successful. You spent a lot of time on the strategic plan, that's why we're here, and like Mary said, we gave you the task of coming in and moving forward with that plan."

However, Fitzgibbons continued, "I disagree, with all due respect to Councilwoman Kortsen, that people don't want to change and people who've been in a certain position and they don't want to. I really disagree."

Fitzgibbons said she appreciates efforts by police officers. Pointing to present and past officers in the audience, she said, "I mean, these are the faces of our department, right back here. We're doing our job to make sure that you have a safe environment and that our community is safe. So I really appreciate you guys, all of you who are taking the time to come and visit. This is our community and it's important to be here.

"So, I think that people want to make it a better place. Chief, they're passionate about their jobs.

"You talk about the internal and external factors that you have to face as a department, but these factors are everywhere. These factors are in Phoenix, they're in Chandler, they're in Gilbert, they're in Chicago. These factors are everywhere.

"So what are we going to do to make it a great place to live, work. And are we doing it?"

Fitzgibbons continued that, "I don't want to use these excuses why people are leaving. I don't see just being paid more. A lot of people take reductions in pay to be in this community. You know, these are passionate people, you know, we moved here, got less pay and everything because we're passionate about the community.

"So I don't like that excuse. I don't like it that there is all these other things going on.

"What are we doing to make it the best place to work? 

"When you talk about training and all the tools and team building, they're all professionals, they've been in the field for a long time. So why aren't they seeing that this is good? Why isn't this the reason that they're staying, then? 

"Is it better at the county, is it better with the Sheriff's Office? I don't think so.

"I really want to see what is at the bottom of it and what can we do to keep these people here."

Fitzgibbons then first said, "I have a problem with using these excuses," but then added, "not excuses, but as far as these factors."

She also wanted to know about communications within the department.

"I think it is key, both up and down and I would like to see a little bit more specifics and what you're really doing to get that," she said.

"Are people really feeling comfortable? The Chief's Cabinet, do people feel comfortable expressing their concerns or are they afraid of retaliation and being known as a complainer or that type of thing.

"So what are you doing? 

"There is the hierarchy. So how is what we want being communicated to your captains to your sergeants and down? What specifically are you doing to make sure that there is a truly open forum of communication that people feel comfortable?"

Cervantes replied that he was glad Fitzgibbons retracted the charges of excuses.

Fitzgibbons said, "That was a word that I did take back. No excuses. But it's listening to people. You might not think that, but there's a miscommunication there."


Mayor Bob Jackson

Mayor Bob Jackson then broke in, saying, "You know, Lisa, the first step in solving a problem is identifying it. The way I took Johnny's presentation was he was saying we're identifying, here are the problems, we're working on the solutions. While I understand you kind of backtracked on the word excuses, I do think we need to be aware of what the issues are so that we can all work to solve them.

"Some of them, we're not going to be able to solve. As Matt pointed out, we've got budget issues, we're not going to be able to give them any more money.

"And so I don't know what the answer is. As I look at the comments, I look at it as, OK, we're identifying the problem and that's the first step to solve it."

Cervantes responded that, "One of the things that we try to do is develop the supervisor level, because that's important, especially the first-line.

"One of the first questions I got hit with was this rotational policy (mentioned in an earlier story) that we have, and that addresses special assignments. We've always had it, but it wasn't always enforced. And every group I went to and every opportunity, people wanted to know, what are we going to do about that? And I knew it was a landmine.

"And, yes, as the chief I could have made that decision, but I didn't. What I did was, I got our supervisors together, sworn and non sworn, and I used what's called collective IQ and I used a participative process to try to make this decision.

"As chief I can evaluate it and make a decision based on what I think is best. Well, I have that old professional opinion on rotation, but I didn't want to do that. I felt that I had to respect the organization, had to respect the people who that have been there for a long period of time. As you say, they're valuable employees, they certainly know more about the culture than I did coming into it. And so I value that.

"So what did I do? I got them all together in a room, we discussed the rotational policy and we asked, what is best for the organization, what do we want to do? Let's talk about the pros, let's talk about the cons. I mean, just like that. And it was a great dialogue.

"I could come in as an autocratic leader and just say, we're going to do this. That's not what happened. What happened was, we spent all that time exchanging ideas and then what I did was exactly what happens here (at council decisions), all right, let's vote. Went around the room, what do you think, what do you think, what do you think? And the vote was we thought it was best as an organization to rotate people out of special assignment after five years.

"Now, that has an impact on people, clearly. I know if I was on special assignment I would want to stay there forever, but as an organization of our size, how do we develop more people?"

But was the reasoning for the change passed down through the ranks so employees would understand?

"The answer to that is, no," Cervantes said. "I don't know the exact reason. Maybe it wasn't clear, maybe nobody asked, I don't know.

"But the point of the matter here is, we are expending a lot of time trying to develop and trying to encourage participative processes.

"When you're talking, just like we're doing now, we're bringing what our concerns are, and that's what this process allows us to do."

The same process has been used during other discussions, Cervantes said.

"We had to address the supervisor level of rotation. And some people have been in these special assignments for quite a long time, and deservedly so, they earned it.

"All right, here are the issues. Our policy says this, what do we want to do? Everybody wants to know my opinion. I'm not going to give them my opinion, because this is their organization, and I respect that. And not only do I respect it, I encourage the input. 

"And once again, we used the same process and once again the organization determined that it was in the best interest of the many, not of the few, to rotate supervisors out of these special assignments.

"I wish I had the answer to why that stuff doesn't come downward, but we're working on it. We're continually talking about how important that is."


Karl Montoya

Montoya was also critical.

"I kind of agree with Councilwoman Fitzgibbons, excuses are floating around," he said. 

"People come and go in all organizations, but I can't remember when five people went to the same organization (Sheriff's Office) at one time in any of the city's history.

"I had dinner with the sheriff Thursday night and he's still entertaining phone calls and you would lose more people if he could offer even two dollars (more in salary). Two dollars more, you would lose a lot more people in rank with five-plus years. It would be a big hit to the department. 

"We heard from the city manager, hey, nobody's stopping by and telling us why. Well, the last group did stop by, because we made sure they stopped by so we could get the message to say, hey, what is going on, when are we going to elect to fix the problem.

"I think we want to fix the problem, but I think we've got to understand it."

Montoya continued that, "A minute ago, you said, well, I don't know why that communication didn't happen. But I would think it would be your responsibility to know why and to fix the problem, because the buck stops with you. I mean, if you don't know why, your front-line supervisors aren't going to know why and it's just a bottleneck, and that to me is troublesome."

Concerning staffing, Montoya said, "I don't believe you'v been fully staffed since you've been here. We've given you eight seats and I don't think you've been there yet.

"And to say ICMA says 14, well, the critical ones on ICMA we filled. And we slowly chip away at your recommendations to get that way, so I think as a City Council we've been working on that. We got the crime analyst and other positions in there to help your department move along, and I think it has helped you quite a bit.

"But I think there's an underlying problem here, because I sit here and listen to you say, you know, rewards and incentives is why we keep our team, the team was made. But on the other side of that, I look at your department and go, OK, look at all the incentives we could have, is there any way to get them at this moment? We've got a position that probably could be open, another guy is leaving here shortly, and that's probably two positions. We've got motorcycles parked, that's more incentives, that's more positions.

"I mean, there's a lot of things you can offer to move this thing along. And so I think there's some underlying problems."

Montoya continued that, "As I said, I had dinner the other night with the sheriff and if he wasn't hiring jailers right now, you'd lose a lot more. And I hate to say that. I'm saying that because I think there's a common theme with the people who have left, we've got one sitting out here (in audience). 

"The common thing is, they didn't go anywhere, they love living in Casa Grande, they have families here, friends here, they're still staying here, and so I think that sends us kind of a powerful message. They don't want leave yet. I mean, it's not about more money, they're going to the county for less.

"And so I think take responsibility, say, look, let's identify these things and see if we can move this thing forward."


Dick Powell

"I'm concerned if we lose people under five years or very tenured or anybody in between unless we understand the reason why," Powell said.

"I have employees, and I tell mine anytime you can better yourself, get a better position, make more money, and a lot of them are college kids, I expect you to do that. But I don't want to have anybody leave angry or upset without understanding what it is and why they did this.

"You have people that have left early that might of stayed until the finish, to their retirement. The tenured people bring such a community and cultural aspect and an asset for the Police Department, because they know just about everybody everywhere in the community, know who to go to and they can get information other people can't. It's a kind of deal you earn through being around for awhile.

"The young ones, we put money in and we certainly don't want to see them leaving us, unless they feel like they're going to a place where they have more chance to advance. That's one of the things that really bothers me."

Powell said that perhaps the Human Resources Department should start doing exit interviews, saying that method might be less intimidating. "I know it's intimidating to sit in front of somebody that may do a future evaluation for you if you get a call from another agency or whatever," he said.

"Some way to find out, you're leaving, what was the reason. (Maybe) it's not any reason I'm leaving. I'd just would rather go there, work there, whatever; that's fine.

"If we can identify things, I think it helps everybody. It helps the chief, it helps council, it helps the officers understand and identify what some of the problem areas are.

"I know communication and am respective about communication, that's always a challenge for everybody. Change is a scary thing and you have to have everybody understand what it is and why and how to implement it and become comfortable within that change that takes place.

"We're concerned about seeing people leaving and we really don't understand why they did, when they did, or why they did, period. I think we need to continue to work to try to discover what some of those issues are and give Chief Cervantes the information he needs to work on and let the people that are being affected by this contribute theirs."


Mayor Jackson

"I guess one of the advantages I have," he said, "is because I have an office in City Hall I'm probably closer to this than many of the rest of you are. And that's why I wanted to give you all the opportunity to ask the questions and let the chief respond to them as best he can.

"I think, at the end of the day, what I always tell people wanting to do big projects that it's really helpful sometimes to go back to where you started and figure out how we started down this road.

"My recollection was we had an ICMA audit that wasn't very flattering about our Police Department. We had a group of employees and supervisors and I believe even some citizens that sat down over the course of almost a year under the prior police chief to come up with a strategic plan that they thought would help move the department forward.

"Organizationally, I've worked for communities over a hundred thousand people and I will tell you that you go through growing pains, and we've talked about this before. And growing pains are always hard to do.

"But I think what I'm hearing from the chief is, I inherited this strategic plan, I was told the strategic plan was done by a group of employees, citizens, all the involved parties. And I guess at the end of the day if that's not the strategic plan that we want, then we need to change it, because that was what we asked him to do when we hired him, is implement this plan."

Because it has been a few years since the strategic plan was drawn up, Jackson said, perhaps it's time to look at it again.

"But, again," he said, "that's the plan we have and that's the direction we should be going."


(CG News note: The department held two sessions on Wednesday, Sept. 17, to discuss the strategic plan with the outside consultant involved when it was drawn up. It was reported that City Council members, in groups of two so as to not constitute a quorum that would trigger the open meeting law, met with the consultant on Thursday, Sept. 18, to inquire about what was happening.)


Later comments

Council members Herman, Fitzgibbons and Montoya brought up the retention issue again during council reports at the end of the regular meeting that night.

"I just want to say we just want everybody to succeed, that's what our goal is up here, and we just want the best for our community, making the right steps to identifying those problems," Herman said. "So that's just where we need to keep going, getting together and getting it done."

Fitzgibbons said, "I, too, want to kind of echo what Matt said. We grew up here, we want it to be the best place. So we just want to identify what it is and see what we (council) can do to help."

Referring to the latest police officers to leave, Fitzgibbons said, "I had to look at their wives when I was at a little going away party and it was sad. I saw the sadness in their eyes. 

"So that's it, it's really to try to identify and see what we can do to improve, there's always room for improvement, like you said, chief."

Fitzgibbons did not say if any of the officers told her why they were departing.

Montoya said, "I also want to thank the chief and captains for coming out. I know it's a hard subject. Change is good but change is, like you said, very stressful and very hard sometimes. 

"I think that all of us and the community will grow together, one way or the other. We may bump a little bit but I think everybody wants the same thing. And I think that shows the passion for everybody on the council, we want the same thing. We can have serious discussion, but I think at the end of the road we can all shakes hands, the goals are the same."


Incentives and recognition important factors for retention, chief says

(Posted Sept. 17, 2014)


This is the fourth of five articles looking at personnel leaving the Casa Grande Police Department.


CG NEWS note: Every story has more than one side. This article is the third of three about how Chief Johnny Cervantes sees the issue of officers and others leaving the Police Department. The next story in the series will outline what the City Council has to say. Efforts are being made by CG News to reach out to present and just-departed officers for their views.)



"One of the challenges of management is how you incentivize employees and how you reward them," Chief Johnny Cervantes told the City Council during a special study session on why officers are leaving the Police Department. 

"That's a struggle that we all have strived to do, and we're always coming up with different ways to do that."

One way is offering special assignment work, such as the Community Response Team, a special unit turned loose to fight crime, the chief said, adding that, "We're really striving to reward these individuals that give that 110 percent.

"The way we identify these Community Response Team members is we meet every month to go over the data, crime data and performance data, and there's just some individuals you could see they're always that 110 percent. And so how do you reward them?

"One of the ways was we decided why don't we put them on this team and allow them to go off and do what they love to do, without the hinderance of the radio calls. Yeah, it creates some challenges, but it also creates some opportunities, as well.

"That's what we did. The point was, we wanted to reward hard work but this is on a rotational basis, as well. I think we're doing three to four, five months, something like that, where they rotate in and out so that we can include more people in that."


Importance

"This is important," Cervantes said, "because they would not have an opportunity to do this, like if they're newer. 

"They're developing some amazing skill sets. They're learning how to write search warrants, which they wouldn't be able to learn, wouldn't have access to do it until they'd gone into Criminal Investigation Division. They're learning how to execute these search warrants.  They're learning interview and interrogating skills, they're learning how to gather intelligence, their interpersonal skills with the community, surveillance techniques.

"These are all the skills that they're learning. Not only are we providing them and rewarding them opportunity wise, we're trying to develop them at the same time. And that's always a great feeling, when you develop people."


Other incentives

"One of the other areas that we're using to try to incentivize and promote is the performance-based shift selection," Cervantes said.

"The way it's done normally is based on seniority, so we were trying to find a better balance between seniority and recognizing that there are some people that may not ever have an opportunity to get into the better shifts, for example, regardless of what they did.

"I'm not saying we have achieved that balance, I'm just saying that this was a method to do that. And that's what we did. 

"Let's just take day shift: we reserved two of those position for those individuals that were going out and are consistently producing at the highest level. We allowed them, based on that. It was only two spots on the different shifts. The rest of the positions were seniority based, just like normal. You're talking about 10 positions total. We pick twice a year."


Video recognition

Cervantes played a short video, The Chief's Corner, for the council outlining what an officer did to help solve a problem at First American Credit Union.


You'll find that video HERE


"The reason I'm showing this is because employees want to be valued," Cervantes said. "It's important. We had an employee up here talking about what he did and how he solved a crime in our community working with the businesses.

"This is the first of others to come. We're going to highlight all of our employees that do this. And wait until you see next time, it's a phenomenal amount of work that this individual did, and I'm excited about it. But that's what this is all about.

"I could sit there and explain to them how much I value them, I could sit there and praise them, but nothing speaks louder than to putting them up front and center, putting them out there and saying look, tell everyone what you did. Again, trying to address the newer generation's expectations. 

"Is it going to solve everything? No, it's not. But it's part of the efforts that we're doing to try to keep people, to highlight what they do and value what they do."


Banquet recognition

"I guess some years ago we used to have an awards banquet and for whatever reasons -- I'm not sure what happened -- it didn't continue," Cervantes said. 

"I believe that's a great opportunity to recognize individuals throughout the year for some of the phenomenal work that they've done. It's the department, not just sworn officers, an opportunity to recognize everyone. And we did. We had a chief's banquet, it was very successful. I think we had 95 percent, roughly, attendance rate. Obviously, we had to leave some out on the street to perform the duties that are needed.

"We gave out 16 different categories of awards."

There are also quarterly awards for those involved with the CompStat, the computerize crime tracking and predictions system, Cervantes said.

"We bring people in and thank them for doing such a great job and providing them with a certificate as a reward for their efforts," he said.

Cervantes said he also gives gift cards to highly performing personnel.

"This is for some work that's just so outstanding that it's hard not to recognize individuals for doing that," he said.

"And just for the record  it's my money, not city money, I want to make sure that's clear."


Training

"In any profession training's a big deal," Cervantes said, "but there's something about it in law enforcement, like they see it as like a reward when they receive this type of training. And that's a great thing. We're trying to address that by increasing the amount of training.

"When I first got here, there were a lot of requests for different things, and one of them was training. And our field training program is an important program for us, because that's training our new people that we hire to come in and learn how to be police officers. They had not been to any kind of training in quite awhile.

"Through our connections, we got ahold of National Association for Field Training Officers and asked if there any way that they could come and put on this class here. We have some great facilities in exchange for some free seats. They came here, we sent our guys for half cost and we got some great training, up to date training.

"We've increased our training by 364 hours. It's going to increase more."


Building teamwork

"The other thing about trying to address the retention issue is simply dealing with issues as they come along," Cervantes said. "And team building is important.

"When I first got here, I met with all the divisions and there were some issues, at least from the perspective of employees, that the sworn officer supervisor and the communication supervisor were having some challenges. And so we had to address those issues. We figured, how do we deal with that? Bring them together and let's air this stuff out and find out what are the causes and implement so strategies. Sounds simple, but it doesn't always happen in an organization. But we have to continue to make sure that when there's issues arise that we try other things to resolve these issues.

"In this case, they came together, they aired out their issues, they've become an exchange program where the supervisors from communications would ride with the officers or the sworn supervisors and vice versa. And so we believe that we mediated some of those issues. This is going to be ongoing."


Officer safety

Cervantes said that during a meeting with the department's prisoner transport officers, or PTOs, one of the biggest concerns was safety.

"As you know, that's a very important part of this career is officer safety," he said. "They deal with some of the worst, because they're transporting them from Point A to Point B, such as from here to the county (jail).

"What they expressed was at times they weren't being checked on by dispatch. Not because of any fault in Communications. It's a very stressful job and they're multitasking all the time, depending on how busy it is. So sometimes they forget. When a prisoner transport officer checks out they don't call them and ask are you OK. They call it a security check.

"Our technology allows us through our computer-aided dispatch system to put a what we call a timer. We weren't utilizing the timer. What it does is it reminds dispatchers that if this person is checked out, they've been out there for 20 minutes, for example, but haven't been heard from they can come back and check on them and make sure they're OK. And that's a big deal. 

"When we grow as an organization and you have multiple officers and people, it's very difficult to manage all those different resources out there, so this is vital. It wasn't turned on.

These are simple things, but we have to do them, so we did, we got it turned on."


Bottom line

In summation, Cervantes said, "These are the efforts that we're doing to try to address the retention issue. It's not perfect. These are always going to be ongoing, but we're confident that in the future it's going to make a difference, it's going to make a difference."


NOTE: Cervantes ran out of time before he could complete his presentation. Additional areas are listed in the link, above, to chief's presentation.


NEXT: Comments from the City Council, not entirely favorable.


Chief's view: 'The first thing we have to do is implement the vision...'

(Posted Sept. 16, 2014)


CG News has been informed that the Police Department is holding morning and afternoon  two and a half hour sessions Wednesday, Sept. 17, to discuss possible updates to the department's strategic plan.



This is the third of five articles looking at personnel leaving the Casa Grande Police Department.


(CG NEWS note: Every story has more than one side. This article is the second of three about how Chief Johnny Cervantes sees the issue of officers and others leaving the Police Department. A later story in the series will outline what the City Council has to say. Efforts are being made by CG News to reach out to present and just-departed officers for their views.)




If the Casa Grande Police Department doesn't want to see personnel leaving, what is it doing to try to retain them?

As Chief Johnny Cervantes told the City Council during a special study session on the issue, "Well, the first thing we have to do is implement the vision."

"And that's what we've done," Cervantes continued. "The vision is extremely important … because this is telling everyone who we are and what we're about. And I think that's important, because if you want people to come here (to the department) and be a part of it, we have to tell them that. And that's what we're doing, by posting this and adopting it.

And we're saying that we want to be leading. I think most people want to be a part of a leading organization. I know I did.

"We also want to be progressive. 

"I think when we tell people this is what we're about, how can we not want to be a part of that?"


Unified

"The issue of the unified part, I think that's important," Cervantes continued, "and I think that's where some of the disillusion comes in. As good as we are, sometimes we're not as unified as we would like to be.

"Again, this is a vision. Are we going to change that every single day? Probably not. But we're just like any family or any organization where you're going to have challenges and strokes. But people want to belong to a unified organization, and believe me, it's very difficult to try to achieve that on occasion, for a variety of reasons, and so when we talk about that we have to demonstrate that every single day.

"And also I really believe it's important, because people do want to be inspired by excellence.

"I can only speak for myself, but that's one of the reasons I wanted to come here, because we look at this vision and you say, wow, that's an amazing vision. That's important for us to implement.

"And then we say, who are we going to partner with? Obviously, we do want to partner with the community. And so to me, by implementing this vision that's telling everyone who we want to be, how we want to get there and what we're all about, that's going to really impact our attrition rate."

That is going to take time, Cervantes said, adding, "It's not the only answer but it's part of it. I think we've made great, great progress in doing that."


Tools for officers

"First and foremost, we want to provide more tools for the officers in the entire department, especially technology," Cervantes said, using the installation of a mobile field reporting system as an example of making the job easier for both cops and support personnel.

"I think most of us understand that a police officer's car is like their office, that's where they do everything. So we try to equip it as best we can to make sure that it helps facilitate their job and make their job easier."

Prior to his arrival, Cervantes said, the department had spent $32,000 in about 2008 for the mobile field reporting program but had never implemented it. Implementation came after he learned about the program, he said.

"Prior to acquiring this software," Cervantes said, "the officers would write their report by hand in their car or they would write it onto a Word document and then save it to a thumb drive. When they came back to the station, they would print it out, give it to their supervisor, make the corrections they needed and then they would turn that over to Records and Records would process that report."

More accurately, he said, Records was entering only part of the report.

"There are two parts of the report," Cervantes continued. "There are the fields, which are the little boxes -- and there's probably 120 to 130 of those individual boxes -- and then there's the actual narrative.

"The boxes include stuff like the report number, the date and time of the incident, date and time of occurrence of the incident, location, the reporting party's name. And there's the actual written narrative part, such as on this date and time I was dispatched to Mrs. Jones' residence for a burglary, I contacted Mrs. Jones, she explained it."

Before he had the software program implemented, Cervantes said, "all the Records public safety clerks were entering was just the fields, not the actual narrative.

"When I came in April 2013 I discovered that there was always 1,300 reports a month behind in those entries. That's significant issue, because part of our business model is using data-driven approaches to deal with issues. So if you're 1,300 reports behind every single month, that's not going to be very helpful in utilizing that data to allocate the resources and address issues.

"Obviously, there was some issue here. So we talked about it and I discovered that this software was a solution for that, and we had had it since 2008. I couldn't understand why it wasn't implemented. So regardless of why, we made efforts to make sure we got this implemented and we did.

"So for the first time in our history, not only do we have this data from the fields, we actually have narrative directly entered into the records management system. That's a very key component."

And what does that have to do with retention rates?

"We're trying to make our employees' jobs easier," Cervantes said.

"To enter that data just for the fields was five to 30 minutes, depending on the type of report it was. We implemented that program, 9,225 reports were entered.

"On the low end, if it took five minutes, it was 769 hours of additional staff time that we saved just by implementing the software program. On the high end, 4,614 hours of staff time. That resulted in a savings of $11,535 on the low end -- and, by the way, I'm using entry-level public safety clerk salaries to calculate that -- and on the high end $69,210."

Before implementing the program, Cervantes said, the low end cost $33,000, the high end was $207,000."

"I don't want to look at it just from a efficiency standpoint in dollars and cents," he continued.  "This actually has impact on our employees' stress levels, they're doing multiple tasks, multiple tasks. Now Records is free those hours to do other things.

"On the officers' side of it, they now have the ability to do inquiries from the street to help them do their jobs more efficiently. If they want to look up a suspect in the data base they can, from their cars.

"And that's an important aspect when you say what are we doing to address attrition. Like I said, we're trying to make our job easier by implementing this software. I know it's 20 years old, but it's still better than how we were doing it before."

The department is trying to add more technology, Cervantes said.

"We're increasing that technology to apprehend criminals," he continued. "We just purchased additional tracking devices, we purchased some tablets that we can use out in the field to track, for surveillance. They work and they have worked and we're having a higher success rate at apprehending individuals.

"It costs a lot of money to put people out in the field, but with leveraging these tablets, which we're going to do and have been doing, it really helps improve our ability to apprehend individuals and identify them and reduces the cost in providing the survive. Once again, it's providing more ability to make our officers' job easier."


NEXT: Offering incentives.


Chief says external, internal factors contributing to departures

(Posted Sept. 15, 2014)


CG News has been informed that the Police Department is holding morning and afternoon two and a half hour sessions Wednesday, Sept. 17, to discuss possible updates to the department's strategic plan.




This is the second of five articles looking at personnel leaving the Casa Grande Police Department.



(CG NEWS note: Every story has more than one side. This article is the first of three about how Chief Johnny Cervantes sees the issue of officers and others leaving the Police Department. A later story in the series will outline what the City Council has to say. Efforts are being made by CG News to reach out to present and just-departed officers for their views.)

                                             

                                                                                      -:-


There are both external and internal factors contributing to attrition in the Police Department, Chief Johnny Cervantes told the City Council during a special study session.

"Some of the external factors that impact our attrition rate -- and this is not just our organization, this is every organization, in my belief -- is the economy," he said.

"I would say that is the number one thing that impacts our attrition rate, and that's an external factor.

"One of the things about our profession is the ability to specialize. There's so many aspects of the law that allows specialization. For example, driving under the influence enforcement, criminal investigations, whether it's a sexual assault, criminal investigation or violent crimes.

That's the beauty of our profession.

"But sometimes, the economy limits our ability to do that, especially an organization our size, so that's a significant factor.

"Sometimes there's a perception that there's better opportunities in other organizations, especially larger ones. And it's true. If you look at Phoenix PD, that's a tough organization to compete with with that framework in terms of all the issues. Specialty units. So that's an example of that impact of our attrition rate."

A down economy has meant that the department hasn't been able to hire all of the officers recommended in an International City/County Management Association’s Center for Public Safety survey commissioned by the City Council and completed in late 2010, Cervantes said.

"When I first started (April of 2013), one of the things that I did was I went around to all of the different divisions, both sworn and non sworn," he continued. "I tried to get around as much as I could to talk to the different work groups.

"And one of the biggest things that always came up was staff."

The ICMA report is continually discussed during department management meetings, Cervantes said.

"As we were talking through this in one of the briefings," he continued, "one of the supervisors said the ICMA report also said that 14 more positions were warranted. Our response is, we understand that but it's due to the economy. If we had the resources to to hire more people we probably will do that. I'm sure there's other departments that we could speak to that also have those same needs.

"That is one of the issues I think that creates a lot of stress, not only for the sworn but also for the non sworn in the department. And so it's a common thing. But we do try to explain why that can't happen right now. Our revenues are flat and we just don't have those kind of resources to address those needs.

"From the perspective of the employees, they're doing more with less, but now they feel it's the city's turn to provide that part that the ICMA recommends. Again, this is just from the employee perspective, so that does create stress."

Salaries paid in larger departments are also a factor in luring officers away, Cervantes said.

Unmet expectations are another, he continued.

"I do have discussions with individuals and I had one the other day with one of our officers," Cervantes said. "He was getting into the job for a lot of reasons, such as benefits, pay, retirement.

"But I think he was disillusioned a little bit about what it would take. It's a very stressful profession, both when you're out in the field and just a lot of the day to day things that come up. Just like any organization, we have internal politics and those kind of issues.  It's stressful, and so they're kind of disillusioned, but depending on how long they've been on they're in conflict, because it creates an issue for them. So that creates stress, which may lead to them leaving the department."

In addition, generational expectations have changed, the chief said. That is noticeable in Police Departments that are basically paramilitary with rigid structures.

"The newer generation, their expectations are instant gratification, they want things now," Cervantes said. "We kind of all do, but that's a common theme with some of the new workforce, that they want these issues now. 

"The issues are in our department that we're not always able to provide those opportunities, and so that creates conflict. When there's opportunities elsewhere, that's one of the factors that address this.

"Some people get into this to meet their basic needs. But the workforce has changed, to where they want more than just supporting the family. They want to be able to call themselves police officers, they want to be empowered to do things" such as problem solving.

"It's gotten a lot better over the years, we've evolved over the years, but that is a significant challenge for some of today's workforce."


Organizational culture

"I think organizational culture is a very good thing for getting us through some of the difficult situations that we deal with," Cervantes said, but it also has a downside to it, as well.

"And when I talk about the culture," he continues, "I'm talking about our belief system. We have our own language, we have our own symbols, we have our own beliefs. And although we share a commonality with the profession across the board, some of these are unique to individual organizations. We have a very strong culture here, and like I said, there's some good sides and there's some bad sides.

"On  the good side, I think that we're very, very good at doing more with less. The boys have done a phenomenal job at doing that, because we've had to.

"And the downside is it's not a very open environment on occasions. And I've heard this from not only sworn but non sworn."

As an example, Cervantes said, "The other day I was having a conversation with one of our dispatch employees. They're really upset about the culture. And because of that, we may lose that person. I do my best to explain, hey, we're evolving, we're changing, we're making a lot of progress.

"It's an issue that if they're not in, they're out.

"And again, the people aren't inherently bad, we're just like any other profession, you develop cliques. I was trying to explain to them openness, let's work through it.

"But I don't think they heard. And I know they're actively looking to apply in other organizations."

Similar instances have arisen with sworn officers, Cervantes said.

"I talked to one that told me specifically when I asked him why are you leaving that he was in a very bad place in his life a year prior, he overcame that and he doesn't want to go back there.

"He's flat out told me that he just feels that there's an element of negativity in the organization at times and he didn't want to be a part of that."


NEXT: The chief's view of what's being done to combat departures.


(Posted Sept. 14, 2014)


This is the first of five articles looking at personnel leaving the Casa Grande Police Department.



Controversy about departures of officers, many with little time in the organization, continues to dog the Casa Grande Police Department.

Stories -- and rumors -- range from lack of chances for advancement to being overworked because of not enough officers on the streets to lack of direction from the top -- or that direction not filtering down to the troops. 

Pinning down fact from fiction is hard, given that no officer or former officer has appeared before the City Council to give a firsthand account of problems or perceived problems.

On the other hand, Chief Johnny Cervantes, having the job since April of 2013, acknowledged to the council that he is aware of some of the discontent and has been taking action.

It's a slow process to change the culture of a department. 

In this case, it is centered around major changes being brought about because of a highly critical 144-page management study of the department by the 

International City/County Management Association’s Center for Public Safety. The study was completed in late 2010 and the department filed an action plan shortly thereafter. The department has also filed a five-year strategic plan, updating the City Council from time to time about progress being made.

During a study session about the attrition, Cervantes presented these statistic about Police Department departures, both officers and civilian personnel:

• 2014 (through August)

16, broken down as nine sworn officers and five civilians.

(That apparently does not take into account two new officers who failed to pass their probationary period. The department total is 18 includes 10 resignations, four retirements  and the two probation failures, the Human Resources Department statistics show.)

Overall in the city, 38 employees had departed through August.

• 2013

13, broken down as six officers and seven civilians.

• 2012

8, broken down as three officers and 5 civilians.

• 2011

16, broken down as seven officers and nine civilians. (That conflicts with the HR Department total of 18.)

In the past, the city tracked only how many personnel had departed, not reasons for leaving. 

Human Resources Director Dawn Jett, hired in November 2012, said in an email to council members obtained by CG News, that she became aware of the incomplete tracking in mid 2013. Because the system is still mostly manual, a complete search would involved pulling archived files, a costly process that might or might not show additional details, she said.

The statistics she supplied from July through December of 2013, not broken down in the Police Department by sworn officers and civilians, are below:

The 2011 and 2012 total city departures, before tracking of reasons, are below:

One question from the council during discussions was: "Is there a standard protocol to do an exit, to find out what motivated you to leave our department, so it keeps you apprised of what the issues might be that would motivate some officer to go to another department?"

Chief Cervantes said the department does not do that. Mayor Bob Jackson said that every departing employee in the city has an opportunity to do an exit interview with City Manager Jim Thompson.

"In fact," Thompson told the council, "they're given a form that they can fill out. It asks what do you think about your coworkers, your department, working relationships within the department, with other departments. All of those things are asked. Some submit it, some don't. 

"And then they have the opportunity at that time to say either they want to meet with me or they don't. 

"We're in the process of looking at that entire portion of it, because it was kind of one of those things where they were told that the information would not be shared. 

"And it's challenging, because you see something and immediately you want to go over to that department and say what's going on. 

"The other thing we find is that some employees, whatever their reason for leaving, they just don't do it. I'm leaving, I'm out of here, I really don't want to share, I don't want to burn any bridges, I'm not going to say anything negative, so a lot refuse to do it."

Chief Cervantes told the council that there are several reasons why police officers leave their department, including the perception of better opportunities and pay elsewhere.

That happens not only in Casa Grande.

A story in the Casa Grande Dispatch by reporter Melissa St. Aude (found HERE) notes that so far this year, according to spokesman Tim Gaffney, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office had lost more than a dozen experienced deputies to other departments, all citing better pay. He said 21 present deputies are testing for other departments.

Chief Cervantes told the council that, "Everyone is different, everyone has different motivations for getting into a certain field. One of them is salary."

He also said that the departures of Casa Grande officers could increase.

"The challenge we're going to face," he continued, "is Phoenix PD just announced that they're going to be hiring 300 new cops in the next three years. That's a hundred cops a year. That's new cops, that doesn't include replacement officers that leave for retirement or those kind of things. 

"So that's going to be a significant challenge for us. Not just us, but throughout the Valley, I'm sure."


NEXT: What Chief Cervantes says the department is doing to stem departures.


Strategic plan updates will continue in September

Because the strategic plan update presentation is 99 pages long and only an hour had been allotted for his presentation, Chief Johnny Cervantes will be back before the City Council in September for further explanation. This series of stories will continue after that. Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons, noting that the original strategic plan had 11 goals, said she would like an explanation on how the department is working toward all of them.

Computer data, human minds teamed to analyze stats, plan war against crime


(Posted Aug. 14, 2014)


You'll find the original strategic plan HERE


An explanation of Compstat and how it is used is HERE



Computers and enhanced software are important parts of fighting crime, but the data spewed forth would be essentially worthless if there weren't humans analyzing it and using it effectively.

Compstat, a computer program that, in brief, can track and help predict crime, operates in the Casa Grande Police Department, collecting that information. It's also used to post the daily reports that residents can find at www.crimereports.com.

"It's information, it's data that we try to utilize to allocate resources," Chief Johnny Cervantes told the City Council during the latest updates on what the department is doing to achieve its strategic plan.

"But it's more than that. It's a paradigm and it's a mindset about how we approach everything in law enforcement. It's a mindset about police management, it's a mindset about police work, it's a mindset about our philosophy and our technology.

"When we talk about this mindset, what exactly are we talking about? It's almost like its a business-minded approach to law enforcement, is the best way I can put it. It's about accountability."

That puts it in line with the strategic plan and the department's core values, Cervantes said.

"When our core values say we want to be responsible and why, this is why," he continued. "I'm not sure who came up with deciding to use the Compstat model, but somebody did and I think it fits right in line with our strategic plan."

The decision to initiate Compstat was made before Cervantes was appointed as chief.

"It's about accountability, it's about strategic and timely identification and response to management problems," the chief said. "Not just crime, but within the organization, and so you use the data to do that, make those kind of approaches in responding to that information."


The human element

"Another key component," he told the council, "is when we get together in a room with all our sworn and nonsworn supervisors, think about all the expertise that is in that room. The goal is to leverage all that expertise and input of all personnel. We meet once a month and that's what this paradigm is allowing us to do.

"The other part here is, it's continuous organizational restructuring or reengineering. That means you're always trying to figure out how to evolve to address those crime issues. Just like the community response team (see story below). I mean, when you looked at information it became evident that we have a core group of people that have this knack to try to catch criminals and so we evolved in that.

"Now, it could change a few months from now, depending on the environment. But that's the whole point here, that we have to be more nimble, especially with the budget constraints that we have and this model allows us to do that, because you're continually examining it.

"It allows us to communicate. Which is, again, right in line with our strategic plan, because to solve any problem you've got to have dialogue, you've got to have that communication process. And to me, that's the first step in solving problems. And clearly, you have to have interdivision communications."

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen asked if the uniform crime category reports that go to the FBI are handled by Compstat.

"When we talk about information," Cervantes replied, "that's exactly the information we use and analyze to make our assessments on how to use our resources.

"What we do is we put out that information, all those reports that we receive and then we put that up on the screen to see where is it occurring, how is it occurring, and we analyze that. 

"This an evolving process. We're always continually evolving to improve our approaches.

"One of the things that we incorporated was to develop an action plan template and assign action times for our top calls for service locations. We deal with location and we deal with people. In this case, we had to develop an action plan so that we can all be on the same page.

"And what I mean by action plan, it's talking about a template that everyone operates from. It's the same information, it's a set format. It's still evolving, but the action plan allows us to assign an area of responsibility. For example, we assess and if there's an area that has a high number of calls for service, then in that Compstat meeting we'll assign that to a supervisor and say, hey, here's the plan, you're responsible for this area.

"We talk about a detailed problem statement. What is the problem here, what are these calls for service, how many number of reports have been taken there, what are the types of reports, what are the most frequent reports? It's a consistent way of developing a strategy to go after and address these issues."


Reviewing the department

"We review all areas of the department on a monthly basis," Cervantes said. "We can't get to everything at every meeting but we do have it and readily available to look at and assess.

"Another thing we wanted to emphasize was educate and promote the department's mission, vision, strategic focus areas and values. You have to talk about it constantly, over and over again, so that everyone understands what we're about, where we're going and how we're going to get there and what we stand for.

"We try to promote a culture of cooperation between divisions, squads and units.

"One example we had is the motor unit wasn't handling the minor accidents, and so that was brought up as a concern. So we said, well, why not, and talked about it and then we said let's make that happen.

"These are the kinds of communications that are occurring. We're trying to continually promote the culture of cooperation."


Working with others

Partnerships with other agencies are essential, Cervantes said.

"If you remember," he continued, "we came before you to ask you to approve the intergovernmental agreement with the Regional Child Abduction Response Team. And that's a team that was designed specifically to respond to a missing child. There's certain protocols, and these are experts throughout the state that come together to make sure that within that first 48 hours, 72 hours that we have a coordinated to try to locate individual missing kids.

"We're partnered with the Casa Grande Alliance.

"We want to participate and attend and hold joint training sessions with our partners. And we've done that. 

"Social services was a key component to our strategy, because not everything is something that the Police Department is equipped to address when you're talking about the substance abuse, the mentally ill. We have had Cenpatico come in through our lunch meetings, asking them why don't you come in and present to the officers what you can offer, what type of services you can offer, and then putting a name to a face and recognize them? We've been to their crisis response training.

"We just recently had our Arizona Department of Public Safety Border Patrol task force come in to our briefings, again for the same process.

"We want to recognize our partners that help us do some amazing work. And we have a really great rapport with two prosecutors that are assigned to this area. We are lucky, because they are really good prosecutors and they're invested. In this case, we nominated a number of prosecutors for narcotics prosecutor of the year and Jill Sosin was selected."


The line-level view

Councilman Matt Herman asked how the line-level officers are reacting to the strategic plan efforts.

"Those are our first people out there that most of the community has to deal with," Herman said. "What do you honestly think the buy-in is? Are they liking the plan, are you moving in the right direction with it? What's the buy-in with our troops out there, the officers?"

There have been some big changes, Cervantes responded, adding that, "when you come up with a plan together and you say this is who you want to be and this is how you want to go, I think you're going to have mixed. Some people are totally on board, some people may not be on board. It's a scary thing to have this kind of change.

"When 40 people came together and they developed this on their own and said this is the way we want to be, you make the assumption that there's buy-in. More important, this is what we tell people we're to be, because this is posted.

"I think that there are some challenges, because there's people that are resistant to change. That's human nature, you don't always want to change. I think you're going to have some that are for it, some that aren't so for it, some that are kind of in the middle."


What's ahead?

Councilman Ralph Varela asked what has been the biggest shift over the past year and what is the biggest priority for 2015.

"I think the proactive measure, going out there, not just responding to crime. It's a tough thing, because the first thing that comes up is reasons we can't. They're legitimate reasons, but that doesn't change the fact that we have to be proactive. Otherwise, we're never going to move forward. 

"Take the community response team, that was a big change but it was necessary and you see the results. I think that's the biggest challenge, that proactive, just recognizing that we can't just continue to go to the calls and respond 20 times or five times or 10 times without analyzing and figuring out how do you get to the heart of it and then trying to implement efforts to reduce that.

"For the future, the six strategic focus areas don't change. That's where we're headed. But technology is going to be a key component."


 Community Response Team formed to carry the war to criminals in the city

Members of the Community Response Team, above, have been carrying the war against crime to criminals in the city. Some results of their efforts are at left.

(Police Department photo)


(Posted Aug. 13, 2014)


The original strategic plan is HERE




As Police Chief Johnny Cervantes sees it, some cops just have a knack for ferreting out crime and criminals.

Ergo: Assign them to a special detail to do just that.

"We want to be proactive," he told the City Council during the latest strategic plan update. "That's the goal. We're always trying to be proactive. At some in point in time, maybe we get enough information that we can predict when crime is going to occur. That's the goal: to stop if from happening. We're not there yet, but this is a first step in that attempt to do that.

The Police Department created what is called a Community Response Team.

"It became evident after we reviewed information on a monthly basis that you have certain individuals that just have a knack for finding criminals and just have a knack for good police work," Cervantes said. "We have very good officers, but there's just some that I don't know what it is, they just have that instinct. And it became evident.

"So we asked, what would happen if we just allowed them to go out and do their job, without interference from the radio? When an officer comes in on shift, they're responding to the radio. They get a call for service and they have to respond to that.

"What if we took out one resource from every area and said let's let them go do proactive stuff and see what would happen? It was based on their performance and their ability to do just that. That's a very unique concept. So that's what we did."

Part of the strategy -- an important part -- involves just listening to people, the chief said.

"When you're out in the community, you hear things," he continued. 

"We were out at the neighborhood cleanup and this individual came up and we got to talking and he was really concerned about his neighbor and said he believed his neighbor was doing drug trafficking and drugs. He said his wife was very upset for talking to me. He began to explain that he's taking it very seriously, he fears for his family's safety.

"So I thought, well, here's a guy that's willing to come and talk to us. If we hadn't been there, he wouldn't have called us because of that fear.

"I asked him, what can we do to get the community together to help us identify what the issues are in their community. I said, if we set up a meeting, would you come out? No. No way."

So, how does the department reach out to those who are either reluctant to come forward or who are just plain fearful?

"I told the supervisor here's what I want: I need you to go door to door," Cervantes told the council. "And he's looking at my like I'm crazy, what do you mean go door to door? I mean, just that. Go door to door. You don't have to get a call, just knock on the door and let people know that you're there. 

"It'll do two things: One, it'll send a message to the good people that we care, that we're there even if they didn't call. And it'll send a second message to the bad guys that we are going to find you, we're going to work with our community to do that."

The strategy benefits not only the community but also the patrol officers involved, the chief said.

"A lot of times they don't get the opportunity to develop, because there's only so many positions in the Police Department. And so these patrol officers now have the opportunity to develop skills sets that they wouldn't get anywhere else unless they go into Criminal Investigations Division, for example, and there's not always that opportunity.

"So by doing it this way, they're getting to learn how to communicate with the community, they're learning how to write search warrants, they're learning how to use proactive strategies to deal with crime, and interview and interrogation. Interview and interrogation are two different things and it's an art. You don't just go up and say, hey, did you do it?"

As part of the strategy, Cervantes said, the team has held five community intervention meetings, ranging from a neighborhood burglaries spike to a school break-in.

In the neighborhood burglaries, he continued, "We had no leads, zero leads. We knew a crime occurred and we went into the neighborhood. By talking, we identified who the suspects were. It was simply talking to people, the grapevine we call it, and the grapevine can be used for that and by doing this strategy it helps us do that. 

"That's a key to our proactive strategy, but it's not just the Patrol, this is also in our Criminal Investigations Division."

The department conducts crime suppression details in high-frequency crime areas, the chief said.

"We took a group of detectives out for a four-hour suppression detail and just in those four hours we had 75 total contacts, 75 door to door contacts," he said.

"We want to mitigate the opportunity; not just the enforcement.

 "We handed out burglary prevention handouts, how to keep from being a victim. 

"It resulted in seven field information cards (brief summaries of contacts with individuals), four drug arrests and nine warrant arrests, seven for misdemeanor and two felonies."

The key to the strategy, Cervantes said, is defining a career criminal and what he does.

"It may not sound like much, but it is," he continued, "because there's a theory among law enforcement that a small percentage of criminals commit a large percentage of the crimes. And so if we're effective in identifying those career criminals, the theory goes that we're going to impact crime in a positive way. By defining it, you're allowing your officers to focus in a certain area."

It's an evolving process, Cervantes said, not fixed in stone. "It's going to continually improve and evolve as we go along as an organization," he added.

One benefit:

"There are some members in this community that create a lot of issues for us," Cervantes said. "This approach allowed us to have 14 indictments on several of the members of this group. So this is an important step in the right direction for how we going to be proactively trying to reduce crime."


Understanding the definition of crime; looking at some local statistics

(Posted Aug. 12, 2014)


The original strategic plan is posted at http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/files/2013/06/strategic-plan.pdf



Before one can understand any strategy to fight crime, there must be an understanding of what crime is and the factors contributing to it, Police Chief Johnny Cervantes told the City Council during the latest strategic plan update.

Earlier in the session, the chief had outlined how the Police Department has been working to meet and partner with the community, integrating that into its strategy.

"Obviously, we want to do more than just partner with the community," Cervantes said. "I mean, we want to implement some proactive crime fighting strategies. That's going to help us achieve our strategic focus areas."

"Let me talk a little bit about what that means and how crime occurs," Cervantes continued, placing a triangle graphic on the screen.

"This is what they call the crime triangle," he said. "Essentially, it covers three different areas. For crime to occur, you have to have an offender that has a desire to make that happen. And then he or she has to have an opportunity and then you have to have a target, or victim.

"And so what we try to focus on, a lot of our focus is on the offender part. But we do focus on the mitigating part and the education part, to try to not create opportunities. I think it's important to understand."


Crime factors

"There's a lot of factors to crime and what impacts crime," Cervantes told the council, while bringing up another graphic (above). "These are the factors that the FBI has brought forward.

"The two I have highlighted here (in bold) are the two that the Police Department can control. All these other factors, we cannot control as a department.

"But that doesn't mean that we don't have a significant impact on the level of crime. We do. But these are the two factors: effective strength of law enforcement agencies and administrative and investigative emphasis on law enforcement.

"So this strategic plan is talking about all those things that we have control over. And our plan is right in line with what they're saying: Yes, we don't control all those things, but we do control these two things."

Crime reporting categories

The FBI has a standard crime reporting system, the same for each law enforcement agency in the country.

"The FBI categorizes them in two parts: Part I crimes and Part II crimes," Cervantes said. "The Part I crimes are the most serious crimes. 

"Part II crimes are all the other types of crime that we report. These aren't any less important, because to me a lot of these fall under quality of life of our community, so we also focus on all these crimes."


Cervantes showed a chart of Casa Grande's violent crime rate over the past two years and so far this year.

Councilman Dick Powell noted that there was a spike earlier this year.

"It kind of spiked there," he said. "I was just curious if there's any identifiable reason or if it's just the way things are going right now."

Just the way things are, Cervantes replied, adding that, "It's hard to pinpoint. It's really hard to say. We haven't identified any particular reasons for that spike at this point in time."

Councilman Ralph Varela asked what types of crimes, such as aggravated assault, caused the spike.

"I would have to break it out for you, and I can do that," Cervantes responded. "I just kind of wanted to give an overview. But if that's some information you want, we can certainly provide it at a later time."

Mayor Bob Jackson said Varela's question should perhaps be rephrased to would it be possible to show Part I crime by categories over those same three years.

"We do do that on a monthly basis," Cervantes said. "We can break that out and provide it at a subsequent meeting."

Cervantes will be back before the council at a later date to finish his presentation. It is 99 pages long and the hour allotted for him was not enough time.


Working with community brings cops closer to citizens, chief says







A police officer, joining more than 40 other volunteers, throws trash into a container. Chief Johnny Cervantes said that during the neighborhood cleanup sponsored by the Police Department four tons of trash and a half ton of metal scrap was collected.



(Police Department photos)


(Posted Aug. 11, 2014)


The original strategic plan is posted at http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/files/2013/06/strategic-plan.pdf




Community policing is a major part of the Casa Grande Police Department's strategic plan.

It's a theory the department has followed, but is constantly upgrading and enhancing, Chief Johnny Cervantes told the City Council during the latest update session.

But, the chief said, the department cannot do it alone. There must be communication with the public and response back from the public. To enhance that, he said, the department has initiated several community activities, described below.

The plan focuses on six areas.

"Number one, we want to reduce crime and increase traffic safety," Cervantes said.

"That's an area that should not change beyond the five years of this plan. That's something that's going to be permanent as far as what we're strategically trying to accomplish as far as our department is concerned.

"We want to increase departmental productivity and proactive performance.

"We want to be highly effective in communications and organizational alignment.

"The innovative use of technology, facilities and organizational elements is important

"We want to, obviously, identify and recruit and select and retain the best human resources.

"And we obviously want to enhance our organization and develop our organization through training."

Cervantes said that when he took over as chief in April 2013, replacing Bob Huddleston, "I looked at this plan and I had to determine how was I going to approach it in moving this forward. The way we looked at it is that when an organization came together and decided that this is what they wanted to do and who they wanted to be, I felt as chief that I need to listen to that.

"It's a great plan and it's a good plan and as part of the command staff we embraced this not 10 percent, not 20 percent but a hundred percent, because it's a good plan.

"We use it as a guideline. This is not a document that you just make up and write down and throw on the shelf. This is something that we follow every single day to guide us. I think it is important to understand that."


Community relationships

"One of the goals is to build and develop community relationships," Cervantes said. "Our philosophy of community policing -- and that's what it's all about -- is saying that everyone has a responsibility for crime (prevention). 

"And, no, I'm not advocating people go out and get a stun gun and take down the suspect that's running in front of their house. What I'm saying is that as a community we have to work together to deal with our crime issues."

In improving that area, Cervantes said, "We're going to participate in and attend community events. That's a key element of our strategy."

He gave several examples of what the department has done to interact with the community.


Danny Noland and CG Mountain

"Danny Noland came in to a council meeting and said that he was trying to get his Eagle scout designation and he had this project to go and repaint the CG Mountain letters.

"He didn't ask for the Police Department to get involved, but we saw that as an opportunity to, again, get involved in the community and we couldn't think of a better project to get involved with.

"So we let the Police Advisory Board members know what we doing, we had shirts made up that said Danny Rocks and we had our badge put on it and we had our badge put on the back of the shirt. We showed up, members of the department, members of the Police Advisory Board, and we presented this shirt to Danny and said, here we are, we're part of your recruits, tell us how you want to use us.

"It was a very great success. There we were, up there working together to help Danny and his crew with his objective. There was a lot of people that brought their families up there, as well. We came together and said, what a great project."


Cherish Our Children

"Another one I want to talk about is the Cherish Our Children vigil," Cervantes said. "This was derived from a  tragedy a few months ago (in which a mother strangled a daughter and tried to poison other children) and it seemed that there was just way too many of children's lives being lost to events that could be avoided.

"This one, in particular, was very impactful to the community and to the department, and so we felt that we needed to do something more to raise awareness about how can we prevent these things from happening in our community.

"We reached out to some community leaders and actually facilitated raising that awareness and we came up with Cherish Our Children vigil (a candlelight ceremony/walk held at Carr McNatt Park). 

"That was something that we brought in and we worked with the community to participate in these community events so that we can develop those relationships.

"And we're not done, by the way. This is just the first step, because we're going to continue to build on this awareness."


Albert Arias award

As Cervantes put it to the council, "When we get involved in the community, we find out more about our community members and this Cherish Our Children event was extremely important in that.

"When I was out there walking, the department was out there, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Arias. Their son, Albert Arias, was an Explorer for our department, but his life was tragically lost at 17 years old (in September 2013) when he was involved in a traffic accident.

"As I was walking with them, I got to know them and they were talking about their son and how great of an individual he was and what a great member of the team he was and it sounded like this kid was somebody we would want in our department.

"It occurred to me that here's another opportunity for us to carry on his legacy, so I asked her if she would be willing to allow us to name an award after him so we could carry on his legacy at our Chief's Awards Banquet. And immediately, she was filled with emotion and said, yes. And so that's exactly what we've done to carry on his legacy, presenting the award this past year.

"We're going to do that every single year. Not only did we name an award after him, but we brought the parents in to give that award so our people in our department never forget that we are an important part of this community. 

"You are seeing over and over again that we are integrating into the community so that we can be better in helping to resolve issues."


Blue Courage training

"Blue Courage is a training that we brought forward as a reminder of what this is all about," Cervantes said. "It talks about the heart and mind of a being guardian and our responsibility of protecting democracy. That really is the essence of what we're trying to do and that's the essence of our mission.

"There's a lot of stresses that come involved in this job, tons of stresses, so the beauty of this training was it taught us how to build stress resilience and how to deal and cope with stress.

"And guess who was invited along? Eleven key members of the community to train alongside with us. Not us just training them, but having them there so that we can break down those misunderstandings and include them in our training. They were involved in our training. This was a partnership with the community, again.

"This is a training that the police chiefs' association feels is important to integrate into our police academy and we are doing just that, taking elements of this training and including it the academy. 

"We're taking it a step further. There's an advanced part of it that's called the Respect Effect training. On this one, again, we're including our Police Advisory Board members and asking them to attend with us, as well. It's just a building block effort on our training abilities."


(An article in the magazine of the International Association of Chiefs of Police describes the Blue Courage program in more details. It is found HERE.  


Neighborhood cleanup

"Probably close to 10 months ago, we at the Police Department facilitated and organized the neighborhood cleanup," Cervantes told the council.

"Now, a lot of people might not understand why that's important. But there is a broken window theory (that if you don't replace it, more will be broken out) that says if you don't address the little things, you're sending a message. You're sending a message to the bad guy that you don't care.

"And we know that we're a part of facilitating that part to eliminate that broken window to let people know that, well, we do care. 

"Again, it was a collective effort to where we went and did community cleanup and collected four tons of trash, a half ton of metal scrap collected and we had 40 volunteers out there doing the cleanup."


Other events

"In 15 months," Cervantes said, "we have attended 40 to 45 different events in the community. And to me, that is going to help reduce our crime rate, because if you have everyone engaged in the issues, you can start that communication process. We're very proud of that, by the way."

Another thing the department has instituted is bringing newly hired officers before the City Council for a swearing in ceremony.

"Why do we do that?" Cervantes asked. "Remember what I said about our role as the guardian of democracy. Obviously, democracy is occurring right in this council room, so what better place to send the message to our officers that this is where they're beginning their careers, so they never forget that we serve the community and that we partner with the community. But it's also something for their families, too, something to remember."

As chief, Cervantes continued, "I make it a point to use my lunch hours to meet with individual community members, council, Police Advisory Board members, and that's something that we constantly need to do to make sure that we're available at all times.

"We host the Citizens Police Academy, we participate in the Casa Grande Leadership Academy. 

"We did something different this time to kind with the police academy to integrate more  participative interaction. 

"We could stand up here and talk about the organization as a whole and go through this whole thing, but it's important that the community recognize that sometimes we have to make split-second decisions. We don't have the luxury of time on our hands to make those decisions. And it's hard to understand that when you're not involved in the moment at that time.

"So what we did was we let them go through our (critical incident simulator) system so they could try to feel what that's like and then make the right decision. That's the key."






The Cherish Our Children march put together by the Police Department.

"This was derived from a  tragedy a few months ago (in which a mother strangled a daughter and tried to poison other children) and it seemed that there was just way too many of children's lives being lost to events that could be avoided," Chief Johnny Cervantes said.


Department begins another round of strategic plan updates to City Council

(Posted Aug. 10, 2014)


The Police Department has begun updating the City Council on further progress toward implementing the strategic plan that was proposed in 2011.

It's the latest of a series of updates that have been made.

Chief Johnny Cervantes began the latest update during a study session on Aug. 4. One hour was allowed, which was not enough time for him to go through the 99-page update presentation. The update had not been provided to the council in advance for members to study it and see if members had further questions. Cervantes will be back before the council at a later date.

The update has not been posted to the Police Department's website. A copy was obtained by CG News, upon which this series is based. The original strategic plan is posted at http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/files/2013/06/strategic-plan.pdf.

At the start of his update presentation Cervantes said the mission statement of the Police Department must be put out to the community: To protect, serve and sustain supporting partnerships with the community.

"It's pretty simple, but it gets right to the point," Cervantes said. "It's exactly what we're here to do -- to protect and to serve, and we've gotta do that together."

The department's vision statement also needs to be before the public, the chief said.

"That's what we hope to become," he continued.

"And the vision is simply that we want to be a leading, progressive and a unified agency of highly trained professions.

"And here's the part that I really enjoy the most: We want to inspire excellence in law enforcement.

"The second part of that is that we want to partner to protect, serve and create a safe community.

"As far as I'm concerned, that was a great thing for an organization to get together and decide that they want more and that this is how they're going to achieve that."

The core values of the strategic plan are professionalism, responsibility, integrity, determination and ethics.

"I do want to touch on the responsibility one," Cervantes told the council, "because I think this is one of the key aspects of what we do in our profession, is that we hold ourselves accountable for our individual and our departmental actions.

"That's a big piece.

"For the department to come together and say they want to do that, I think that speaks very highly of that organization."

The reason for doing that, Cervantes continued, "is because they value the trust and the confidence of the community and believe in treating all people with respect and dignity.

"This is something that law enforcement professionals talk about all the time, is that we have to earn the trust and confidence of the community if we want to be effective.

"We can't do this by ourselves, there's just no way. It has to be a combined effort."

That was one reason the department invited the Police Advisory Board to the presentation, Cervantes said, "to allow them to get an overview of our plan but, again, try to integrate the community with what we do every single day.

"This is important when we say we want to be responsible to ourselves and the community."


(Later stories will cover other department area updates, including crime prevention, traffic safety, officer training and development.)


PREVIOUS STORIES: 2013 AND EARLIER

Plan briefing lacked detail, three City Council members say

                  PDF of the update presentation



When the Casa Grande Police Department presented the yearly update on its strategic plan during a Feb. 19, 2013,  study session, officers were trying to cover 11 goals and the 28 objectives within them in a short time.

During the 90 minutes allotted for the study session, the City Council heard a 29-minute presentation on raising more money for Casa Grande Regional Medical Center, a seven-minute review of the annual crime report and then the strategic plan update briefing.

The plan briefing lasted 53 minutes, or an average of 1.9 minutes each for the objectives, rushing near the end because of the regular council meeting starting at 7 p.m. Some explanations, of course, were longer, others skimmed over.

Comments from the officers are found in several stories below this one, covering all of the goals and objectives.

It was apparent from the start that because of the time limit it would not be an in depth analysis and explanation.

On the other hand, three council members said during last Thursday’s council study and planning retreat (April 4), that they would like to have heard more about plan progress, especially about the nuts and bolts implementation.

“As far as the strategic plan, it’s great getting reports,” Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons said, “but you hope it’s not just them reporting on it. I think it’s really important that there’s really some real action on some of this stuff, because I’m just afraid that it’s just reporting. Which is good, but we spent a lot of time and money on that plan and there’s some great ideas.”

She did not identify the issue, but Fitzgibbons said “there was one thing in there that they reported that was doing fine and we know for a fact that it was an issue that I had that things weren’t happening.

“I just think it’s not just words and talking. It’s action and accountability and I think we have to hold these people” accountable and maybe, sure, we don’t want to babysit, but making sure that things are changing, improving and some of the processes that are good.”

Fitzgibbons said she hopes new Chief Johnny Cervantes understands the importance of the strategic plan and its implementation.

“We don’t want just the talk, really,” she said. “It’s a Police Department, it’s not all good, so it’s OK to have realistic activities or things that are going on. We’re human, we know what’s going on.”

Councilwoman Mary Kortsen said she felt the briefing “was like goal, blah, blah, blah, achieved. I think I’d like to see a little more flesh and blood in that.”

Kortsen also said she would like to have seen a comparison of statistics comparing today with the situation two years ago.”

Councilman Karl Montoya said, “There’s got to be action on that to show what they’re doing.

“That’s the accountability Lisa talks about. She reads the report that this is being taken care of, where she knows, she’s had first hand experience, that that’s not what’s happening, so there’s no accountability. You gave me the statistics but where’s the accountability that shows me how you did it?”

Kortsen said she would prefer to have heard that “goals were met because we did this, we did that, the challenges. Put some meat on the bones, I guess. I just don’t feel like I’m getting a real picture.

“It’s so surface, you’re not getting down below the surface. Maybe take some test samplings, of calls for service, graffiti, get down in there a little more. Where is that graffiti, do we do something? Was it tagging or just vandalism?

“I mean, get a little more detail instead of just that going through page, page, page, that bean counter approach.”

Mayor Bob Jackson said the council also wants to “hear the bad things,” but pointed out if the council takes into consideration what the Police Department is doing with its new crime analysis and prediction software and compares that with the strategic plan “you start seeing that, the meat on the bones. But as a reporting concept you really don’t.”


Goals 10, 11: Get better at tracking, analyzing crime areas

In 2010, Casa Grande commissioned a major management study of the Police Department, seeking ways to modernize it and make it more efficient.

When the management survey was issued, Police Department management began putting together a strategic plan, including 11 goals and 28 objectives. The department has updated the City Council each year as to the status.


This is the last of seven stories about this year’s update.


PDF of the update presentation


For background, go to

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/police.

In the left column of the page, click on Police Operations and Data Report for the original management survey and the following action plan, and on the Strategic Plan for the department’s long range goals.


                                                                                 -:-


The old days of sticking colored pins on a map of the city in an attempt to track and predict crime are gone, replaced by computer software.

Upgrading that tracking and prediction was a major goal of the Casa Grande Police Department’s strategic plan.


Strategic Goal # 10:


Identify and utilize tools and resources to track and reduce incidents impacting the community.


The first objective under that goal was to hire a crime analyst and obtain the necessary resources essential to furthering the implementation of CompStat, which is the computerized statistical tracking system.

In December of 2011, Cindy Irby, an experienced person, was hired as crime analyst and she has been working with others to fine tune the system, working out kinks and glitches.

“We’ve made a lot of improvements in how we look at our data and use our computer systems,” Cmdr. Mike Keck, who heads the Criminal Investigations Division, told the City Council during the yearly strategic plan update.

“Between Cindy and the records manager, Carol Beecham, and our city’s Information Technology Department, they’ve spent countless hours trying to figure out how to get more accuracy out of that data.

“They’ve time and time again had to work with the vendor to get our in-house field reporting system up and running. They’ve tried to get some corrections done to data that’s being pulled on a regular basis. And we’ve had a lot of difficulty with that.

“But having said that, we’ve been using CompStat now for a few months. We started, I believe the first one was in July, looking at the data on a monthly basis.”

The goal now, Keck said, is to have the data reviewed in a more timely manner.

“Right now, it’s taking us two to three weeks at the month’s end to get the data put together,” he said. “Because the system will not, Cindy spends probably a week putting that report together.

“At the same time, the second step of that program is that we’ve then got to identify which trends, which current and emergency trends, and which issues we’re going to highlight and develop responses for and develop a planned response throughout the department,” Keck continued. “There may be a small portion of the department working towards those issues or there may be a larger spread of the department that’s going to work towards those issues.

“And although we’ve come a long way with it in which we’ve finally gotten to where we’re comfortable with the format of the report we’re getting on a monthly basis, we’re about ready to take those next steps.”

Keck said the department hopes that putting into place the new computer aided dispatch/records management system “will help us with the timeliness and the accuracy and allow us to have a more user-friendly system that Cindy can work with easier and our IT Department doesn’t have such a struggle with the vendor in getting those kinks worked out of it as we need it.”

Councilman Karl Montoya said reports indicate that one of the failures of the CompStat system is if it is not used more frequently.

“Are we going to get to the point where we get to that weekly meeting, are we that far out that we need to look at program and things like that?” he asked Keck.

Keck responded that, “I honestly don’t know (any other police department) that’s doing a weekly meeting. What we are doing in trying to put out that information on a timely manner is we’re using our internal information board that’s available to all the officers. The supervisors use it in the briefings, the officers have access to it in their car computers.

“That info board is a conduit for Cindy to relay the most recent trend. If she starts in the last two, three days to see a crime spree occurring in a particular part of town, she puts it up on that info board and the sergeants direct the officers, hey, this is current, it’s happening now, get into those areas.”

Holding a weekly meeting rather than use the information board would “take that much more time away from everything we’re doing to do that,” Keck said.

On the other hand, Keck said, “We’re behind on data entry, we always have been. Hopefully the field reporting paperless reporting system will carry data in at the time of the call and we’ll be able to speed that timeliness up so that those reports can be developed in a quicker manner.

“In between those monthly meetings, we’re using that info board to the best of our ability to put out those stats.”

Councilman Dick Powell asked, “When they identify clusters of things that are happening, strategically who implements special programs or special enforcement? Who takes that next level decision to say, OK, we’ve got this happening, we need extra people, we need undercover or whatever it is and try to address the areas that you’ve identified?”

Keck responded that generally the crime analyst sends those emerging trends to the department’s command staff.

“Kent Horn (who commands the Patrol Division) and I probably every three days are talking about one or another,” Keck said. “He’s talking about what his Patrol officers can do to contribute to the solution; I’m talking about what the investigators need to do the work on, do the followups and link the times together and the suspects. So we’re doing it and generally the direction is going to come from the command staff.”

Powell said flexibility seems to be the key.

“It is,” Keck responded, “and we are trying to be more flexible. I know Kent currently adjusts schedules here and there depending on the trending. But honestly, we never had the time without this crime analyst, we really didn’t.

“We could never be able to tell you and impress upon you how critical that position was. I’m thankful that a year and a half ago you found the money some way and they put that in place.”


Strategic Goal #11:


Develop and maintain an effective internal information sharing system.


The first objective under that goal was to strengthen real-time communication at all levels within the department.

The presentation synopsis says:

“Completed with the implementation of CGPD Info Board, which allows officers to use web based programs to receive current and updated information both in the station and in their cars.”

The second objective was to establish a culture within the department that fosters information sharing and knowledge.

The presentation synopsis says:

“On-going and continuous as exemplified by the CGPD Info Board.”

Chief Bob Huddleston, who retired Sunday, told the council that, “We are utilizing those systems greatly.”


Goal 9: Getting more help for the cops on the streets

In 2010, Casa Grande commissioned a major management study of the Police Department, seeking ways to modernize it and make it more efficient.

When the management survey was issued, Police Department management began putting together a strategic plan, including 11 goals and 28 objectives. The department has updated the City Council each year as to the status.

This is the sixth of several stories about this year’s update.


PDF of the update presentation


For background, go to

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/police.

In the left column of the page, click on Police Operations and Data Report for the original management survey and the following action plan, and on the Strategic Plan for the department’s long range goals.


                                                           -:-


Two issues facing the Casa Grande Police Department that are being addressed in the strategic plan are increased productivity and whether civilian workers could handle some calls, freeing Patrol officers to be more proactive.

So far, it’s a work in progress, as the City Council was told during a study session on updates to the plan.

                                                                                                                             

                                                          -:-


Strategic Goal #9:


Increase sworn and civilian personnel productivity.


The first objective under that goal was to increase Criminal Investigations Division cases clearance rates.

“We completed this,” Cmdr. Kent Horn, who heads the Patrol Division, told the council. We (established) an internal policy. We have cases that for them to go from Patrol to CID they have to meet a certain criteria: solvability, monetary value, violent crime.

“But there’s some borderline cases and I think what we were doing was, our mentality was, we’ll send everything back to detectives, everything. Not expecting them to be able to pull the rabbit out of the hat and solve all of them, but perhaps they could see a pattern, perhaps they could see something.

“Unfortunately, we kind of bit ourselves there, because what that did is it made their clearance rates very low because they had to inactivate a lot of cases which were not being inactivated before then.”

While the new policy gives investigators a lighter case load, Horn said, “their workload has not changed, because the cases they do have are the ones that have some solvability factors and they’re able to put more focus and attention into the cases that they’re working.”


• Another objective under the goal was to increase Patrol proactive activities.


The presentation summary says:

“Completed utilizing existing personnel and resources through establishment of COMPSTAT program. (COMPSTAT is a computer software analysis and crime predictions program). Reviews of proactive statistics as a division, squad and individual officer are conducted on a monthly basis. Several policing models, such as Phoenix Police Department’s Neighborhood Enforcement Teams, were presented based on successful programs to dedicate officers to proactive problem solving activities. After review it was determined additional staffing and funding was not available and proactive policing would be conducted to the best of our ability with existing resources.”

With the hiring of Cindy Irby as the department’s crime analyst, Horn said, “we’re able to look into productivity, both on the officer standpoint, the civilian standpoint. But this is something that, once again, is going to be an ongoing thing. It is a methodology, it is a philosophy for the department and we hope it continues.”


Another objective was to reduce traffic accidents.


The presentation synopsis says:

“Completed with existing resources. A compressive proposal was prepared by Sgt. Al Grijalva and his team based on correlation between aggressive traffic enforcement and accident rates. After review it was determined the cost to implement the suggested program would require additional staffing and resources which was not within budget. Continued measurement of accident rates and enforcement activities is ongoing.”


• Another objective was to develop and implement criteria for alternative responses to calls for service.


The presentation synopsis says:

“A composite team representative of patrol, records management and communications recommend implementation of Paperless Reporting System which is an ongoing project approaching its fifth year of development. The obstacle to implementation is lack of technological expertise coupled with problems with existing vendor for CAD/RMS (computer aided dispatch/records management system).

“Also recommended was expansion of the police aide program to utilize civilian personnel to respond to calls in place of sworn officers. This would require additional staffing, which is not budgeted for. An alternative response to calls for service reduces current police officer workload while increasing time for proactive crime prevention activities. That gain has to be measured, however, against the expectation for level of service the community now has and will need to be evaluated in that light.”

It’s a situation of “think outside the box,” Horn told the council.

“When people call for police services, how can we respond, by possibly implementing more civilian personnel than sworn personnel in certain instances, utilizing the sworn personnel, the police officers, then for the calls where they’re really actually needed rather than calls that could be solved without police officers being there.

“We looked at a lot of things. Officer Dave Engstrom got very enthusiastic about this and his committee went to the Phoenix Police Department, they’ve got some NET teams, as they call them. There’s some great proactive stuff that can be done.”

It all correlates with reducing calls for service, Horn said, “because statistically it will show the more proactive we are, the less calls for service your community’s going to need to have, because it reduces crime.”

It needs to be an “ongoing, dynamic thing,” Horn continued, “because we need to look at alternative ways to respond, because we only have a finite number of police officers, we only have a finite amount of resources, amount of money and we have to do the best we can with it.”

Councilman Karl Montoya noted an earlier reference to a 40 percent reduction in call volume.

“Does that bring you down to levels where you think you’re comfortable with that or were you overtaxed before?

Horn responded that, “I don’t think they see it yet. I think they were overloaded to a point that it is reduced and it’s a good thing. At the same time, I’m breathing down their necks now that your call volume’s down I want you out here doing proactive things, I want you checking buildings, I want you writing traffic tickets, I want you doing these things.

“So, has their perception of the workload changed? Probably not at all, probably not at all.”

Another objective under the goal was to identify areas where civilian personnel can assume some responsibilities now handled by regular police officers.

“Sgt. John Tena and his team have identified several areas that civilian personnel can assume duties performed by sworn police officers,” Horn said. “Chief among them is expansion of the police aide program which is currently allotted one position. Their review did not identify current civilian personnel whose duties allowed them the flexibility to assume those additional duties.

“There are a multitude of tasks that we have. We have a police aide, a civilian ex cop, Chris Vasquez. He works our front desk Monday through Friday, greets the walk in traffic, takes phone calls. That’s a lifesaver. That stops me from having to take an officer from down here (near City Hall) and run him all the way up north to the Police Department to meet with someone over something that a civilian could handle.”

An expanded aide program has been proven to work in Chandler, Mesa and Tempe, Horn said.

“Can we get to that point?” he asked. “Well, I guess the politically correct thing to say is we don’t need anything; the reality is, we need some civilian positions.

“And how do you get there? There’s a balance. Do we say we don’t want sworn positions, we more civilian positions? How do we get there with the finite money that we have right now? And once again, that’s something that we probably at this point in the game need to address.”

Councilman Matt Herman said using civilian personnel who are paid less than police officers would be cost effective in the long run.

“I’ll give you an example: the bike thefts in Casa Grande,” he said. “Really, it would be cheaper if we just bought people new bikes. And that’s not to discount someone’s problem; I mean that’s important, when someone’s bike is stolen they’re victim of a crime. But if you really put it down in the numbers, it costs us more to take the report by a sworn officer, do all that work than it might be worth in a lot of cases.”

Using some civilian personnel also has to be balanced with the level of service the community expects from the Police Department, Horn said.

“Do they want to see a police officer with a gun?” he asked. “Probably now they do, because that’s what they’re used to when their bicycle gets stolen. Could they accept? Well, other communities say they can, because the programs are working there.

“The important part, all these things that really dovetail together is to get more proactive with our policing. The goal of everyone I’ve talked to about this study and this strategic plan, most of the officers I’ve talked to want to do more proactive stuff. We’ve got to get there in order to make it happen.”


Goals 7 and 8: Community, law enforcement partnerships

In 2010, Casa Grande commissioned a major management study of the Police Department, seeking ways to modernize it and make it more efficient.

When the management survey was issued, Police Department management began putting together a strategic plan, including 11 goals and 28 objectives. The department has updated the City Council each year as to the status.

This is the fifth of several stories about this year’s update.


PDF of the update presentation


For background, go to

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/police.

In the left column of the page, click on Police Operations and Data Report for the original management survey and the following action plan, and on Strategic Plan for the department’s long range goals.


                                              -:-


Part of the Casa Grande Police Department’s strategic plan was to form and enhance partnerships, both with residents and other law enforcement agencies.


Strategic Goal # 7:


“Maintain and foster mutually beneficial partnerships designed to increase public safety and to enhance the quality of life in the community.”


One objective of that goal was to increase citizen volunteer programs.

“Last year we completed the Citizens on Patrol manual and we also completed a policy rewrite on the volunteers program,” Cmdr. Scott Sjerven, who heads the Special Operations Division, told the City Council.

“We have citizen academies that are ongoing, and we actually have one that is going on right now.”

Sjerven also pointed out that, “One of the things that we have to be careful of is we always have to balance the number of volunteers versus the amount of workload, because when it comes to some of the more fun activities we get a lot of volunteers, but when you have some really in depth activities sometimes we have a hard time getting more volunteers for that because a lot of time they just want to come in, do their shifts. That is really structured where it’s like any job.

“But we do have some of those individuals that are very committed to the program and they assist the Police Department greatly in various activities.”

Sjerven said there are up to 40 tasks that volunteers help with, “whether it’s data entry, helping out detectives, helping out Patrol, they get called out at 2 o’clock in the morning to come out and assist with fires and traffic control, putting up barricades, and many assist with the city on preplanned events, so they’ve been doing a wonderful jobs.”

Another objective was to increase crime prevention programs.

“Crime Prevention Officer Tom Anderson was given authorization to proceed with a plan that was presented within budgetary constraints,” Sjerven said. “And we also have the school resource officers that are available to help, especially when it comes to anything concerning the schools, like they assist in the SMART Moves program.”


Strategic Goal #8:


“Enhance our cooperative public safety partnerships to maximize the use of resources and intelligence.”


One of the objectives was to maintain existing efforts and establish new partnerships or liaison contacts with public safety agencies.

“The department has continued to maintain and improve its existing partnerships that we’ve had for many years,” Cmdr. Mike Keck, who heads the Criminal Investigations Division, told the council.

“But over the last year and a half we’ve also begun new partnerships. Some of those are with federal agencies. We currently five outside agencies that are co-located, at least on a part-time basis, within our Public Safety Facility.

“Probably the most notable of those partnerships is with the U.S. Marshals Service and gives us a task force which is responsible for the apprehension of a few hundred felony offenders around our community.

“So again, it’s an objective that we feel we’ve done quite a bit and made quite a bit of progress with.

“But it again is ongoing and as we have new trends or new needs we’ll look at those other partnerships that might also be able to come in and help us.”

Those partnerships don’t cost the city taxpayers, Keck said.

“Most notably, there really hasn’t been any expense to bring those other agencies in,” he said. “Those personnel are supplied by their agencies. And in a couple of cases, they are even providing overtime funding for our officers to work on joint cases and investigations with them.”


Goal #6: Develop central management, procurement system

In 2010, Casa Grande commissioned a major management study of the Police Department, seeking ways to modernize it and make it more efficient.

When the management survey was issued, Police Department management began putting together a strategic plan, including 11 goals and 28 objectives. The department has updated the City Council each year as to the status.

This is the fourth of several stories about this year’s update.


PDF of the update presentation


For background, go to

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/police.

In the left column of the page, click on Police Operations and Data Report for the original management survey and the following action plan, and on Strategic Plan for the department’s long range goals.


 -:-


Strategic Goal #6:


“Promote the timely development, acquisition and maintenance of Police Department physical resources.”


The first two objectives under the goal were summed up by Cmdr. Kent Horn, who heads the Patrol Division.

They were to identify a single staff member to maintain a centralized accountable inventory of Police Department physical resources and to develop an internal management system for the centralized accounting, tracking and management of all the department’s physical resources.

Horn said that currently the department has more than one officer acting as quartermaster, such as for ordering office supplies and overseeing the large budget for vehicles.

“The procurement that we have in the budget our size is kind of a shotgun operation right now,” Horn said.

“What we were able to establish is, yes, indeed, this needs to be taken care of by a single person.

What they were not able to establish was that person existing within the organization that has time to take that on, time and expertise to take that on.”

Speaking of identifying how to develop an internal facility management system for the centralized accounting, tracking, and maintenance of all the department’s existing physical resources, Horn said, “I know they exist, I know there’s other entities that have got those, private organizations that have such tracking systems. I don’t think it has to be police-specific.

But, frankly, until we have a person that is able to take on, to run it and take responsibility for it, I think it would still have the same result. We would get a shotgun type of approach.”

The update report says that the recommendation was made to establish a civilian position responsible for procurement, management and accountability of all resources, who would turn to the Information Technology Department for guidance and direction in identifying and procuring a computerized tracking system.

Another objective under the goal was to seek more alternative funding to acquire resources.

“Once again, we went outside the department for assistance,” Horn said. “City grants coordinator Mary Allen very instrumental in this. We’ve established a committee of outside and inside personnel and they’re holding quarterly meetings now.

“One thing that was very noteworthy here is there’s a lot of grants, there’s a lot of opportunities, there’s a lot of rumor and innuendo of things that are available.

“When you read the legalese and you get the fine print, there’s matching funds, there’s all kinds of stuff that require a commitment (of city money). So that’s the task of this committee, to sort through those and find the ones that are applicable to us and that we want to pursue.”


Goals 3, 4 and 5: Careers, communications and technology

In 2010, Casa Grande commissioned a major management study of the Police Department, seeking ways to modernize it and make it more efficient.

When the management survey was issued, Police Department management began putting together a strategic plan, including 11 goals and 28 objectives. The department has updated the City Council each year as to the status.

This is the third of several stories about this year’s update.


PDF of the update presentation


For background, go to

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/police.

In the left column of the page, click on Police Operations and Data Report for the original management survey and the following action plan, and on Strategic Plan for the department’s long range goals.


                                                                                  -:-


Strategic goal #3:


“Establish clearly defined standards and benchmarks within a structural training and career advancement program.”


One of the objectives under that goal was to establish a career development program that

includes individual employee career paths, benchmarks and defined time frames for when certain training criteria must be met.

Cmdr. Scott Sjerven, who heads the Special Operations Division, said a committee of police officers completed the task and the department then implemented recommendations about training and career development programs.

“Also as part of the policy we also created a training decision matrix for people to be able to use,” Sjerven said. “And through that matrix, the Patrol officers will then see where they need to go.”

Sjerven read this part of the updated policy to the council:

“It is the policy of the Casa Grande Police Department to provide training that is directly related to the employee’s assignment in order to enhance the employee’s skill and knowledge to provide quality services to the community.”

Sjerven told the council that, “We want to get them as skilled as possible in the current job assignment, because that’s the best benefit.

“Once they meet a certain goal that we have listed in the policy, then we can try to get them some outside training. But before we get them trained in other areas, what we want to make sure is they’re proficient in the assignment that they’re in now.”

Another objective under the goal was to restructure the in-house training program.

“It was completed and implemented into another policy known as 1059 Training and Career Development,” Sjerven said.

“Basically, one of the things that we’ve done is, everybody’s aware that we have a new facility and part of that thing that we have there is the Emergency Operations Center. It’s a large area, we’ve been trying to talk to other entities to come in and provide training.

“As host agency, a lot of times when they come in and run training sessions we’ll get some free seats, so we’re encouraging that and trying to get free seats that save the department money and provide that training.

“The other thing that we also implemented, too, is we do have a training committee together and we do have quite a few different in-house programs.

“I would like to state that our firearms program right now, I think it’s better than anybody in the state of Arizona. We’re out there at least once a week getting some training. There’s a lot of things you can do that doesn’t require ammunition at that point in time.”

The final objective under the goal was to increase and expand application of the Leadership and Police Organization program, known as LPO, and similar programs.

“The LPO is actually statewide,” Sjerven said. “The majority of agencies now are sending their supervisors, try to send their supervisors to that program. In addition, we also try to send our supervisors to the Arizona POST school.”

(POST is short for Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, which oversees training and certification of officers in the state.)

Sjerven said he has put together an introductory training course, using materials from Northwestern University.

“When the new chief of police comes on,” Sjerven said, “one of the things I’m planning on doing, too, for the supervisors is showing him my course material and see if he wants to add anything or if he’s got any philosophies that he would like to be able to show and recommend that he could incorporate that into that and give direction on what he would like to see done.”

Present Chief Bob Huddleston retires March 31 after almost 33 years with the department. He is being replaced by Johnny Cervantes, now a commander with the Scottsdale, Ariz., Police Department.



Strategic goal #4:


“Provide a secure, dependable and interoperable public safety communications system.”


The first objective under the goal was to create a system analyst position and hire someone.

Mike Brashier, who commands the Public Safety Communications Division, told the council that a committee developed a draft job description and reporting requirements for the position, which would also oversee the computer aided dispatch and records management system areas.

“That request for that position becomes part of the budget process,” Chief Huddleston told the council. “Obviously, there aren’t funds for it right now, but we have it ready to go where there is.”

The second objective under the goal was to complete a comprehensive communication study.

“The police worked with the city Information Technology Department, creating an inventory of existing programs that are used by both police and fire public safety departments,” Brashier said, adding that along with a consultant the study group determined immediate two-way radio needs for public safety. Initial orders of new radios are now being issued, he said.

Brashier said the city has met new federal radio requirements. Under study are an evaluation of the computer aided dispatch and records management systems, along with evaluating and testing existing data modems for mobile use.



Strategic Goal #5:


“Optimize the effectiveness of departmental operations through the acquisition and application of current and emerging technologies.”


The first objective was to develop comprehensive training programs for using current and emerging technology.

Cmdr. Mike Keck, who heads the Criminal Investigations Division, said a small committee from a cross section of the department was created, putting together a procedure for implementing new technology and how training would be done.

“We established set procedure,” Keck said. “We actually recently used that procedure for the in-car cameras that were just deployed within the last couple of weeks.

“The procedure basically consists of a subject expert or two being identified and making visits to the various areas of the department that are going to be affected by that technology and making presentations throughout the department.

“The other thing that we did was we developed several user guides for the current technology in the department as a refresher, placed those on the city network so that anybody who had forgotten how to use a device or needed a little bit of reminder they could easily access it and utilize that tool instead of just not using it because they can’t remember how to do so. I think we made some improvement on that.

“We did show it as completed, but because we’ll continue to look for and obtain new technology, it really is an ongoing objective that we will continue on with in the future.”

The second objective under the plan was to seek more funds, such as grants, to acquire new technology.

“We identified a couple of individuals in the department that had experience with grant writing,” Keck said. “We also brought in the city’s grants coordinator from the Finance Department.

“We’re currently meeting every six months, coordinating searches for grant funding for any of the technology that we’re identifying as being needed by the department to add to the tools that we’re using to make our operations more efficient.

“An example of that would be the committee is currently seeking grant funding for the department’s computer aided dispatch/records management system project that we’re hoping to bring forward to council for approval.”



Police goal #2: Career and staff development

In 2010, Casa Grande commissioned a major management study of the Police Department, seeking ways to modernize it and make it more efficient.

When the management survey was issued, Police Department management began putting together a strategic plan, including 11 goals and 28 objectives. The department has updated the City Council each year as to the status.

This is the second of several stories about this year’s update, covering Goal #2.


PDF of the update presentation


For background, go to

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/police.

In the left column of the page, click on Police Operations and Data Report for the original management survey and the following action plan, and on Strategic Plan for the department’s long range goals.


                                                                                  -:-


Goal #2 of the Casa Grande Police Department's strategic plan was to develop a professional management system encompassing career and staff development, empowerment and recognition.

The first objective under that was to “evaluate and define the technical core of each position.”

That tied into Objective #2, to review and update job descriptions. That was covered in the story below about Goal #1

Cmdr. Scott Sjerven, who heads the Special Operations Division, told the council that, “In

order to be able to do a complete review of the job description you have to obviously look at the technical core of the position. And that was done along with that other objective.”

Councilman Ralph Varela then asked, “Is there anything in the job descriptions that talks about cultural competence or cultural competence training or experience? I know some of the cities have that in their job descriptions. Is that something you have either included or will think about for the future?”

Sjerven replied that, “Off the top of my head, no, I do not believe we have something like that in the actual job description. But again we could have that reviewed and have that reported back, as far as what the actual job descriptions say.”

Chief Bob Huddleston told Varela that as part of basic training at the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training academy for new police officers cultural awareness and training is included.

“Within our current department general orders it’s a requirement to maintain respect and understanding,” Huddleston said. “That element is in there. It’s not mentioned in the job descriptions, but it is a requirement of the job.”

Two more objectives under Goal # 2 were to complete an organizational structure analysis and to establish trigger points for organization

restructuring, additional personnel (current and future) and creation of additional specialty units.

Sjerven said the department now has specialty deployment software to analyze Patrol Division resources, schedules and district alignments.

“We also developed an organizational design brief worksheet that was submitted to the deputy city manager (Larry Rains) for input from four groups: the police administration, city management, elected officials and the Police Advisory Board,” Sjerven said.

“This objective is also going to be pending input from the new chief of police.”

Huddleston retires March 31 after more than 32 years with the department, being replaced by Johnny Cervantes, now a commander with the Scottsdale, Ariz., Police Department.

Huddleston told the council that, “Part of the challenge of changing or restructuring a department is that, number one, you have to know what services at what level you are going to provide. And ultimately, that the decision of the City Council.

“Scott has the tools ready, the survey questionnaire that goes into a little bit more depth. He has those ready to utilize, but it is also something that we wanted the new chief to take a look at, because that is such a dramatic change in an organization that we didn’t want to start making changes at this point and then six months down the road have to make some even further changes. That’s pretty much ready to start the process, but it will be probably best to hold off for awhile on that.”

Councilman Karl Montoya said waiting for a new chief concerned him somewhat.

“If you’re recognizing that you may need to do something on this, how come we’re not doing it now and waiting for a new chief to come in?” he asked. “To me, is seems like if it needs to be done, get it done. Maybe you can straighten me out on that.”

Huddleston replied that, “I think part of the challenge, part of the issue, is that organizational structure and shift assignment and resource allocation is not something that should be done by any one person coming in and saying, well, I think you ought to do it this way. It goes into much, much more analysis than that.

Right now, Scott is doing that with the new software and we are looking at what the workload is and what the resource allocation is.

“We have made some adjustments, and although small they’ve been beneficial. It has been to move people on shifts one way or another so that the workload more closely matches the resource allocation.”

The same idea applies to organizational structure, as well, Huddleston said.

“One person can’t be coming in and saying I think you ought to lay it out this way,” he continued. “That really is not a sound foundation to change the design of an organization.

“We know what we have now, we know that it works. And it may well be that there’s a better way to do it. But it’s going to take much more data collection, much examination, and probably a new set of eyes in a new chief that comes in and has some other ideas and is able to look at that data and start to examine as to what he would like to do. He’s going to have personal preferences, as well.

“But I think it still requires much more data and justification than what we have at this point to make that big of a change.”

Sjerven told the council that, “Part of the things that I’m doing is I’m also doing a resource analysis on various schedules. I’m looking at 10-hour shifts, I’m looking at 12-hour shifts, I’m looking at 8-hour shifts, I’m looking at combination shifts.

“I’m also going to be looking at the structure of the (Patrol) districts and also some of our organizational design that we have. I have about 20 different samples out there that I need to take a look at.”

Sjerven said there are a variety of ways shifts could be changed, “so we’re taking a look at them and trying to see which is the best fit.”

“And one of the things I that I want to do is present this to the new chief of police so that he has some information. I have to give him a package so he’s got some information to make his decisions on once he sees that.”

Another objective is to establish specific job performance evaluation for civilian and sworn (police officer) personnel.

“We completed a recommendation that was submitted to the chief of police,” Sjerven said. “Basically, the committee actually looked at the evaluation system and their recommendation is that instead of the current five point system that uses an alphabetical system, go to a three point numerical system, one, two and three, and adopting specific categories for each position under section number five, which is specific department activities where we would take that information either from jobs descriptions or some of the supervisors, i.e., a patrol officer, how is your officer safety, and put that underneath there.

“In our current evaluation form we really don’t have that. We put some more job-specific type categories under section number five to do the evaluation.”

Huddleston told the council that, “I believe that’s a citywide effort to take a look at the evaluation system, and our goal is to be inserted into that process.”




Goal #1: Recruiting and retaining personnel

In 2010, Casa Grande commissioned a major management study of the Police Department, seeking ways to modernize it and make it more efficient.

When the management survey was issued, Police Department management began putting together a strategic plan, including 11 goals and 28 objectives. The department has updated the City Council each year as to the status.


PDF of the update presentation


For background, go to

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/police.

In the left column of the page, click on Police Operations and Data Report for the original management survey and the following action plan, and on Strategic Plan for the department’s long range goals.


                                                                                -:-


The first goal in the Casa Grande Police Department’s strategic plan for modernizing is to “maintain the highest standards in the recruitment, selection, and retention of police department personnel.”

That was broken down into three performance objectives, the first of which is “to review and update the department’s specific hiring practices, standards and recruitment.”

As Cmdr. Scott Sjerven, who heads the Special Operations Division, told the City Council during this year’s annual plan progress update,

“Basically, the review was completed, we got a policy in place on our recruitment and selections, and our practices do meet Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board standards.

“A recruitment team will be put place in the future if a trend starts showing the lack of qualified applicants. But apparently due to the downturn in the economy, we’ve had a larger applicant pool that we had in the years past, so that’s actually helped us out tremendously.

“One of the immediate changes we made was we took a field training officer from the Patrol Division and put them on the oral boards. So we have an FTO along with the sergeants now conducting oral boards for new candidates for selection.”

The second objective was to “review and update current job descriptions.”

“We did a review and it was completed and submitted to Chief Bob Huddleston,” Sjerven told the council. “Some qualifications were added into our promotional policy.

“That was completed by a committee and no changes are going to be made at this time due to the new chief of police. We want to make sure that he has an opportunity to review them.”

(Johnny Cervantes, now a commander with the Scottsdale, Ariz., Police Department, has been hired to replace Huddleston, who retires March 31 after more than 32 years with the Casa Grande department.)

Sjerven pointed out that the second objective ties directly to the fourth objective, which is to “Evaluate and define the technical core of each position.”

The third objective under the goal is to “review and update internal performance-based award and recognition program.”

“That was completed and placed into policy,” Sjerven said. “We created a committee and actually that was established this month and they have a first year agenda that was given to them that they’re going to work on and proceed from there.”

Councilwoman Lisa Fitzgibbons asked, “When you say that you reviewed and you had a committee, you’re basically taking all these policies and kind of getting a group together and going through it step by step to what works, what doesn’t work and then revising it?”

Sjerven responded that, “Sgt. Brian Ramirez was in charge of this objective and he had a team of several underneath him and officers and they got together and made recommendations and we took those recommendations and formulated them into the policy. We actually completed the new policy in December and that was put out department wide and is an entire policy manual.

“When I was formulating the awards committee, what I did was I put out a department wide email to both civilian staff and officers asking for nominations on who they would like to see on the committee. Once I received the nominations, then those were put out for a vote and so they had their representation of who they wanted.

“Part of the other spectrum for the committee is the chief of police also made some appointments as far as the commander and a sergeant and I believe a corporal to that committee, and then all the rest were done by elections throughout the department.”


How the department went about producing the plan

PDF of the update presentation


For background, go to

http://www.casagrandeaz.gov/web/guest/police.

In the left column of the page, click on Police Operations and Data Report for the original management survey and the following action plan, and on Strategic Plan for the department’s long range goals.


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In 2010, Casa Grande commissioned a major management study of the Police Department, seeking ways to modernize it and make it more efficient.

When the growth boom hit Casa Grande, almost doubling its population, the Police Department was sort of overlooked.

As Mayor Bob Jackson said during his March 7 State of the City address, “I think we grew so fast that we didn’t give the Police Department all of the tools that they needed to keep up with that growth (now just shy of 50,000).

"And I think what the strategic plan has done, with some of the new tools that we have, we’ve really prepared them to not only provide continued great service to the city of 50,000, but one that’s a hundred thousand range as well.”

When the original management survey was issued, Police Department management began putting together strategic plans, including those that could easily be accomplished at minimum or no cost and other that are contingent upon having the money to complete them. The department has updated the City Council each year as to the status.

During this year’s update, Chief Bob Huddleston told the council study session that putting together the strategic plan and following through on items has been a learning process, an interactive process and an evolving process.

“We have put together numerous committees and objective teams to work on these things,” Huddleston said. “We went into it with a goal or objective to do it at zero cost. We knew that there was not a big pot of money out there that we could just add equipment and people wherever we needed it, so we tried to make this as cost neutral as possible. Some things inevitably will require additional personnel or additional resources and those have been identified, but they get put on hold when we get to that point.

The update Huddleston presented covered 11 goals for the department, broken down into 28 objectives.

“The strategic planning process is never done,” Huddleston continued. “It’s simply updated. Some of these goals may change, some of the objectives may change, some may stay on there permanently and be examined year after year so that we can continue to try to improve in those areas.

“One of the best illustrations that we had in the strategic planning process was a visual of trying to get everybody to push in the same direction.

That’s what I believe strategic planning has done for our department. It’s got everybody a target to pursue, a goal to pursue.

“And it feels like we’ve been successful in this. It’s a never ending effort, but it feels like more and more that we’re all pushing in the same direction.”