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Here's what the police chief candidates told the public

Posted by haroldkitching on February 26, 2013 at 4:05 AM

Casa Grande residents got a look Monday night at the four finalists to replace Police Chief Bob Huddleston, who retires March 31 after 32 years with the Police Department, starting as a patrol officer.

The four were culled from 77 applications received from across the country, City Manager Jim Thompson said.

They are Andre Anderson, a commander with the Glendale, Ariz., Police Department; Johnny Cervantes, a commander with the Scottsdale, Ariz., Police Department; Charles Padgett, interim chief of police of the West Allis, Wis., Police Department, and Christopher Cotillo, now chief of police in Seat Pleasant, Md., and before that spent 28 years with the Prince George County, Md., Police Department.

All of the candidates were interviewed by city officials throughout the day on Monday. Thompson told the audience Monday night during the gather at Eva’s Fine Mexican Food restaurant that, “Tomorrow we’ll probably have a couple of them come back and join me for the morning for further interviews.” He said the selection will be made within two weeks.

Each candidate Monday night made an opening statement, answered questions from the audience and made closing remarks.

Those follow:



I think most of here would probably know about Glendale, Ariz. I’m a division commander there and I’m responsible for about 25 square miles encompassing about 110,000 people in that particular area.

I lead and direct about 120 employees and serve over a budget similar to what the budget here, about $10.6 million. (The Casa Grande Police Department's website says the department has 77 sworn officers.)

I’ve had a number of different experiences throughout my career. I’ve spent a great deal of my time in Patrol working my way on various different shits. I’ve worked as a detective, I worked undercover. I actually worked down here in Casa Grande as an undercover, buying drugs many years ago. I looked like a crack head out here.

I’ve worked at Drug Enforcement Administration, so I’ve worked with federal law enforcement as well. And I’ve worked as a detective with a number of different assignments. So I have a pretty broad background in terms of experience, hands-on experience. Some things that are a little bit different about me is I worked in the city manager’s office, as well, I worked in the chief’s office as well to gain some additional experience.  

That’s who I am. I’m looking forward to an opportunity to come here. I think this is a great place to be. You have a lot of things that are similar to the way Glendale was some time ago, so I think that I can provide some leadership to you. I have a very diverse background in working with different diversity and different groups. I think that’s my strength. I’m a collaborator. I’m highly visible. I’m somebody that will be in the community quite often and working with you on a regular basis. So I hope I get that opportunity.

ANSWER TO AUDIENCE QUESTION (The person submitting the question did not follow the rules of only one question, instead writing down three. That was accepted.)

FIRST QUESTION: Can volunteers benefit the Police Department? If yes, in what ways?

ANDERSON: Yes, they can. There are a number of things that volunteers can do to benefit the organization.

Some things that they can do, quite frankly, is that when you’re a victim of a crime or there’s a spree of crimes that are occurring in your particular neighborhood, the volunteers can get out and they can communicate with community members and facilitate the need for them to communicate with each other. They can assist in providing pamphlets to help victims in communities learn about how they can not become victims. The volunteers can also become eyes and ears in the communities. There are so many things the volunteers can do.

But more importantly, the volunteers can serve as a barometer to explain to the Police Department what we need to be doing. See, in order for us to understand how to perform our job we need to ask the people in the community how they want to policed. And then after we learn how they want things done, volunteers can assist with that. Then we can draft a plan in order to address the community.

QUESTION TWO: How will you communicate with the residents of Casa Grande?

ANDERSON: Well, there are a number of ways I would communicate with the residents of Casa Grande.

First, you must consider the use of innovation. Innovation is out there now. You can use Twitter accounts, you can use the Internet, you can use the cable network, you can use the water bill that many of you get where we can provide you information about what we’re doing.

But face-to-face communication is best. And you can get the volunteers to go out, disseminate information about meetings that we will have, similar to what we’re having tonight, and bring everyone together and sit down and discuss the concerns that you’re having in the community. And by that way, we can all work together.

So, it’s a combination of innovation, face-to-face and really just taking time to care about the people we serve.

THIRD QUESTION: What methods do you implement to decrease crime?

ANDERSON: There’s a number of methods I use.

One is the common sense approach. You need human intelligence. That is the police officers, the volunteers, the community members that are aware of what is taking place by providing you information in order for you to formulate a plan to address them.

But for the most part, in my department I have extensive experience using what’s called CompStat (short for COMPuter STATistics or COMParative STATistics). And in a nutshell, what CompStat is, is it requires you to get timely and accurate information. It requires you to have effective followup, meaning we have to rapidly deploy. And it requires you have relentless followup and assessment.

(The Casa Grande Police Department has begun implementing CompStat).

So, when you have these things working in unison, you also have to measure your ability to address crime on a regular basis.

And you do that by bringing the Police Department, the community, our stakeholders together and you look at the crime maps, you look at the trends, you look at the percentage. You start to look at crime the way many of us look at a business. There’s accountability, there’s numbers, you find ways to address them, you use innovation to address them, use the community at large. All these things are how you effectively use your crime control methods.

But let me also say this; to me, my crime control strategy involves these concepts:

It involves prevention; prevention is important. It also involves problem solving, because problem solving is important for the police officers. And it also involves partnerships, because we need partnerships. And last, and most important, it involves performance.

Those four “Ps” will be the philosophies, the crime control philosophies that I will implement in the organization, with your help.


You have an area that’s coming (Phoenix Mart), about 1.5 million square feet of retail space, 2,000 vendors, 300 investors that are coming to this community. Right now in this particular area, you have about 240,000 people in the valley. In 20 years, you’re going to have about 2.2 million. There are a number of businesses that are coming to this particular area.

What you need, is you need a leader or leaders that have been there before, that have seen that type of growth and can lead the employees and the community to understand what that type of growth means to your community. Coming from Glendale, I’ve seen that growth. I have that experience.

But more importantly, what you need – and I’m sure we all (candidates) have these qualities – is someone that cares, not just about the Police Department, but they care about the community at large, they care about people. Because at the end of the day, that’s what matters, is the people. And I care about people.

I’ve learned a great deal about this city, this organization, this valley. And I agree, this is a very progressive process (to select a chief). You all should be proud of your leadership. It’s an indication that you’re going in the right direction. Regardless of what takes place here, you have a phenomenal leadership team. That is something to be proud of.

I would like to serve as your chief of police here. I would like to be in your community. I am highly visible. I am a community oriented police officer. I have a very diverse background in working with a multitude of different people. I have the skill sets that you need in order to move forward.

I’ve met with the police officers. I’ve spent time with them on the road. I’ve walked out in the field in the apartment complexes and I’ve seen the areas where there’s crime. I’ve talked to them about the issues. I care about the concerns. I would love to serve you.

I just hope I have an opportunity to do so. But regardless of what happens, I think you have fine choices here (among candidates). And whether I’m here or not, I will support you. If I’m in Glendale, I will help you. I am here for you. 



I’m currently a commander with the city of Scottsdale. I’ve been in that position for five years, but I’ve been with the city for 22 and a half years. I was born and raised in Miami, Ariz. I started my law enforcement career with the Miami Police Department. I started off, of all things, as an animal control officer, believe it or not, and then I went into police department as a police officer. I spent two and a half years doing that.

In Scottsdale, I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work in a variety of assignments, both at the line level and at the supervision level in those capacities, both from investigations, patrol and also in internal affairs. So I’ve had a broad breadth of experience in those things.

And for any of you that know about Scottsdale, the area that I command is the downtown area, which is the entertainment area. Supposedly it’s one of the highest concentration of bars and restaurants in Maricopa County, so it’s very challenging. I also have the spring training facility of the San Francisco Giants in my area and one of the biggest employers, which is Scottsdale Health Care, so as you can see I have quite a bit of challenges under my command.

I lead approximately 65 to 70 police officers.

As far as one of the biggest reasons I wanted to come here, I could talk about my education, I could talk about my plans, I could talk about all those things, which are very important, but one thing you can’t replace is the relationship with the community.

I believe no matter what philosophy you have in terms of policing, community policing, you could have CompStat (crime tracking and analysis software), you could have different models of policing that exist.

The bottom line is, the reason I wanted to come here is not because I saw an advertisement looking for a place to go and retire. I’ve been looking at this location for the last two years because I knew Chief Huddleston was going to retire. So I wanted to go to a place that fit me, fit my vision and my goals and my values. And I’ve looked at this beautiful community and I took the time to meet individuals from within the department, I’ve took the time to meet community members. And I’ve said, you know what, this is place for me.

And look out right now (at audience) this is amazing. In Scottsdale I don’t always get this amount of people out, so the fact that you guys are out here, caring enough about who you police chief is going to be tells me everything that I know and just reaffirms my decision to come out and say, you know what, this is the community I want. Because I want to go to a community from what I see here.

So I just want to say congratulations to you for coming out here and I applaud you. This process has been amazing, so with that said I just want to say thank you very much and I appreciate the opportunity to come out.


QUESTION: If employees are greatest assets, what is your greatest asset to lead the agency?

CERVANTES: Well, I think the greatest asset that any leader have is, first and foremost, they have to care about their employees and they have to care about the community. They have to care about their role and take that seriously as a manager and as a leader. So I think that’s first and foremost.

The greatest asset I have is the ability to relate to people. In high school, for example, everyone else was getting awards at the assembly that you have at the end of the year, like scholarships to this and scholarships to that. I got the good citizenship award. Bust, honestly, I’ve learned that over time, and especially in this field, that my greatest asset is communicating with people and dealing with people. My degree in business matters nothing if I don’t have the respect from the community and, obviously, the employees that work for me.

So looking out for the interests of my employees, looking out the interests of the community, to me that’s my greatest asset, is the ability to communicate and work together to resolve or to conduct our primary mission, which is to make this community safe. So I think that’s my greatest asset.


One last plug for Johnny Cervantes. That’s JOHNNY CERVANTES.

Essentially, I just want to say I really do believe I would be a good fit in this organization and this community. I do have experience. I’m an Arizona native, so I understand the laws, I understand the community. I come from a small town. It’s about a sense of community.

The other day I went to a (Casa Grande) council meeting and I watched the council meeting take place. If you’ve been to, or watched the news about the political processes nowadays I can get pretty ugly. And I watched the council members, the way they interacted, and I said to myself they actually care about one another. It seems like they get along well. Now, they may have differences of opinions, but they get along well and they get the job done. And so I just think that part is important.

And I got a sense that that’s the place that I want to be, and with my heart I really believe I could be that person and lead this organization into the future.



West Allis, Wis., that is just outside of Milwaukee, Wis. West Allis is a city with a population of about 60,000. I have been with the West Allis Police Department for just short of 25 years. My current position in interim chief of police. I command a department of 132 sworn officers and 26 civilian employees. We also have the Wisconsin State Fair grounds inside the borders of West Allis and the Milwaukee Mile Racetrack. So it gives us a lot of opportunity for people coming and going out of the city and a lot of entertainment and activity that comes with that.

My formal education is a bachelors degree in criminal justice and a master degree in business administration. I have areas of training in law enforcement, command staff and different training, to include the FBI National Academy in 2010 and also Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.  

I’m very happy to be here tonight. Casa Grande was chosen by me because it was open, I saw the position was open. And I love Arizona, I love this area. No snow; well, Tucson had snow the other day. But love this area, been here a lot of times. When I was a teenager we had friends that moved out to Phoenix. Ever since I came out here for that I wanted to get out here. I’m still trying, but I’m not here yet. But that’s why Casa Grande. It looked like a great city. I researched it, Googled. I used to be a detective, so I did all that stuff. And it’s comparable to West Allis in population and different things like that and I thought it was a great opportunity for me to pursue. So that’s why I’m here.


QUESTION: How to you help build a community as police chief?

PADGETT: As police chief, you are integral in the community, you are a huge part of working with the community and helping to build that community.

The police chief alone doesn’t really resolve anything. The police chief has to rely on their employees, whether they’re officers or they’re civilian employees, and everybody in the community, whether they’re council members, whether they are citizens, whether they are business owners and citizens. Everybody in the community builds the community. So the police chief being out there, being willing to work with everyone in the community, regardless of where they are, where they work, who they are, to make the community is what helps build the community as a whole.

So the chief has a huge role in that, but it’s one piece of the puzzle, a larger puzzle with everybody working together and doing that. And it’s kind of a common theme that you will hear when you ask law enforcement executives questions is the working together, because it’s true. That’s how we started in the beginning, is everybody working together, that’s how law enforcement started, is working together and resolving crime and different issues that happened in the community.

We don’t do it ourselves. There’s not enough of us. It doesn’t work that way. It’s all collaborative. And that’s how a police chief would build the community or help to build the community, is working all together with everyone else.


For me for this position, I bring a wealth of experience from where I come from. I actually have all my 25 years in Allis, in one place, Wisconsin. I’ve worked with a variety of different agencies, both federal, state, across country, different things on a variety of different investigations, and bring that with me.

I’m a huge communicator. Communication isn’t so much speaking, it’s more listening. I’m a listener. I listen to people. When I speak to residents back home where I’m from I listen to what they have to say. And I truly hear them, I’m not just a sounding board where it’s bouncing off. I’m listening and I hear what they’re saying and I take action on what they’re telling me, as much as I can, and I get things done.

That’s what I like to do. I enjoy doing that, I’d like to bring that here to Casa Grande. I can bring that with me here and it can serve you well. And I will be dedicated. I’m a dedicated law enforcement professional. And I look forward to the opportunity to hopefully do that for you.



I’m chief of police in Seat Pleasant, Md., a little city that sits inside of Prince George's County and borders Washington D.C. And it’s probably the highest crime area in Prince George's County. And the reason I went there is because I graduated from school there, I started my assignments there when I was a young rookie officer and I thought I could give back to the community when the chief’s position became available.

Prior to that I spent 28 years with the Prince George's County Police Department. And that department is the 27th largest police agency in the country – and that’s out of 18,000. The average size police department is 20 or less officers. We have 1,600 to 1,800 officers. I was district commander and a patrol district commander in District 2, the second largest district in the county and has the second highest population in the county. I had command of over 200 officers over 134 square miles and I had a population of over 200,000 residents. I was there for four and a half years.

When I was promoted to major, or commander, the chief told me you’ve got a problem with robberies and you’ve got a problem with breaking and enterings. The next four years that I was there, because of the great team that I had – I don’t take the credit for myself, we had had a great team – we brought down crime every single year. Most of the years it was double-digits, and you can ask any of these panels that we went through today, I proved it to them, I showed the statistics, so I’m not fibbing. One year, I got a proclamation from the state’s county executive for having a 40 percent decrease in carjackings. We had seven in one year, and that’s pretty phenomenal for an area with over 200,000 people.

Arizona. Why did I pick Arizona? Because I love Arizona. I’ve been out here a few times, I have a lot of friends who live out here.

Before I get into that, I’ll go into some of my assignments.

During my 28-year career, I was in canine, I was in narcotics, I was an internal affairs investigator for three and a half years, I was on the SWAT team for seven years, I was commander of the SWAT team for three and half years. And then the last four and a half I was the commander of the district station. I’ve been a supervisor in every position of Patrol. I was a sergeant, I went back to Patrol as a sergeant. As a lieutenant, I went back to shift commander. As a captain, I was an assistant commander at district station. And as a major, I was a commander.

You may look at me and say why the heck is he telling us that. The officers know why. Because some people get promoted and they jump from special unit to special unit or from an administrative assignment to administrative assignment sitting behind a desk their entire career and then they become a commander and they’re told to go command a district station, and they don’t know anything about Patrol, they don’t anything about Operations. Well, I do. I didn’t become a supervisor until my 11th year with the agency because I was on the SWAT team and I enjoyed the work. I was there for seven years, I didn’t want to leave but I saw some of the things going on and I felt I could make a change and make a difference.

As the commander in District 2 I had two sectors. I had over 50 civic associations and community organizations in each sector that I had to deal with. I provided a scheme where I had community service areas where I put commanders in charge of each area. I had cops officers in every single beat and I had beat officers in every single beat. I had community service meetings at the station once a month to get to know the community. I had a great rapport with our community.

A few years back, a couple of our officers beat a University of Maryland student and it made national news and the FBI got involved. They were always having riots at Maryland anytime they beat Duke, big rivalry. The problem is, a few times they made bonfires and they burnt some fiber optics cables that were going over Route One and those things were million-dollar cables. These officers beat this student and it was caught on tape. Big issue.

Well, I have what’s known as a goodwill bank with my community. We have done so much good work with the community as partners that they gave me the opportunity to talk to them before they jumped the gun. And what we did, was I also opened two community resource offices in my district free of charge to the county, only cost me a dollar out of my pocket a month, where I host safety seminars, I host community meetings, I have state’s attorneys come, I have all different agencies come and we can all mingle with policemen, the community and police, because some people just don’t want to go to a police station, but they can mingle with the police and see that we’re people, too.

But I met with the community, I had my community leaders come in, my religious leaders come in. We showed them tapes of these riots that happened a Maryland all the time, we showed them tapes of these riots that occur all over the country on college campuses. We also went over our use of force policy, we went over our less lethal weapons, which was the pepper spray, the Tasers, the ASP baton, the pepperball guns. We told them about the policy, we showed how we utilized each of these weapon systems and then we answered all their questions. At the end of the night, they were sympathetic to what the officers had to deal with. They weren’t condoning what the officers did, but they understood the position they were put in and they gave us a chance to rectify the situation.

I think one of the officers was indicted and is serving time, the other one was acquitted.

(That’s) the type of relationship I have with my community and I enjoy with the community. I have this goodwill bank that can trust me and I can trust them, and they gave me the opportunity to rectify it with them before they jumped the guy.

I do want to retire here, after I’m the chief for about five or 10 years. I think Arizona is beautiful. And whether or not I get this job, I will be out here one of these days.


QUESTION: What was your top priority in the job you’re coming from and will it be something that you would continue here?

COTILLO: There’s a lot of priorities as a commander or as a chief of police department. But the top concern is to serve and protect the citizens of the jurisdiction you’re serving and to make sure they’re safe and they feel safe when they’re working, they feel safe when they’re living at home, they feel safe when they’re traveling through the jurisdiction that you’re serving.

Another priority is the safety of my officers. I don’t want anything to happen to my officers, that’s why I want to make sure they have the best equipment, the best training and the best gear available to police officers nowadays. Policing has changed since I first became an officer. I didn’t have Tasers, I didn’t have (well, I don’t want to give away my age). But there’s a lot of things that they have now that we didn’t have, but they’re dealing with the same problems. I mean, I remember a guy on PCP we physically had to fight to get under control. (PCP is also known as angel dust, makes the user hallucinate, become extremely violent and not feel anything). PCP’s a big problem.

To answer the question, my top priority is the safety of citizens here in the city and anyone that travels through the city. That’s our top priority, period.

We don’t take this job for the paycheck, everybody knows that. We take this because we enjoy helping people – at least I do. And that’s the way I’ve always been.

I enjoy helping people and I support my officers – unless, of course, you’re doing the wrong thing. And I’ve told my guys that: I’ll support you 100 percent, humans make mistakes and I understand that and I will support you if you make a mistake, but if I find out that you’re intentionally doing something wrong or doing something criminal I’m not going to support you, I’m going to do everything I can to get rid of you.

The top priority is safety, building that bond with the community, working as partners. With my SWAT background I’m a team player, and I believe we’re all fighting for the same thing, whether you’re police, whether you’re sheriffs, whether you’re corrections, whether you’re animal control, whether you’re a private citizen. We all want to live in a livable community, and that involves quality of life issues, also.


You’ve heard a lot of talk and we’ve said a lot of things. I think everybody up here’s qualified. They’re a great group of guys.

I think it comes down to now the decision that the city has to make is what’s best for the city and what’s best for the individual chief that they choose, whether or not this city is right for them.

I just want to thank you for the opportunity. It’s been great. And I hope you take into consideration some of the things I have to offer.

I’m currently a chief right now. It’s a smaller agency, but I came from a big agency, 27th largest in the country. Some of the things that this city is now going through, we have gone through on the big agency that I used to be a part of. So I know how to steer the ship and get us to where we want to go.

When I was a district commander, I had such a great working relationship with the community. I had a goodwill bank. They would give me the opportunity to address them if there were issues with the Police Department that they had concerns about.

And it’s about getting everybody involved. Everybody. When I look out here and I see everybody see here, I just had a town hall meeting back home, a couple of homicides we had and I had less people at that town hall meeting than are here. So I think it’s great that everybody’s here. It’s about everybody involved.

The police can’t do it alone, the citizens can’t do it alone, the state’s attorney’s office can’t do it alone, sheriff’s can’t do it alone, probation and corrections can’t do it alone. It’s about being a team and getting it done.

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