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Fife leaders announce “improvement plan” for Fife police

Post by Steve Maynard / The News Tribune on Feb. 27, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
February 27, 2012 1:02 pm

Fife police are taking several steps to improve the department, including outside review by law enforcement and the pursuit of accreditation.

City leaders announced the multifaceted “improvement plan” today. The past year has been a time of frequent scrutiny brought upon the 60-member department, leading to the resignation of two veteran officers and the suspension of another officer twice.

City Manager Dave Zabell said the problems of a few officers have hurt the public image of the department.

“There is no denying that the actions of a few, no longer with the department, had an adverse impact on the public’s perception of the department over the past year, ” Zabell said in a statement today.

He said the department is dedicated and professional. With the steps police are taking, the department “is laying out an aggressive plan to better prepare the department for the future and in doing so provide for a safer community.”

The plan includes:

– A “critical review and assessment” of Fife police by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. Its Loaned Executive Management Assistance Program will be in charge of the review.

– Review of departmental policies and procedures.

– Pursuit of accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. This accreditation requires ongoing improvement and is considered the “hallmark of professionalism” within law enforcement, the city said today.

Police Chief Brad Blackburn said the steps aim to produce a department “that consistently demonstrates a high level of professionalism, marked by high morale” with a solid management structure and clear mission.

Here’s the news release:

PRESS RELEASE

February 27, 2012 Contact Information:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Laurel Potter, PIO

253-896-8606

FIFE POLICE LAUNCH IMPROVEMENT PLAN

Fife, WA – At their February 21st Study Session, the Fife City Council listened intently as the Fife Police Department (FPD) put forward a proactive plan aimed at improving Police operations. Fife Police Chief Brad Blackburn and the Department’s Command Staff including the Deputy Chief, Commander, and Lieutenants outlined a multi-faceted and coordinated array of strategies and initiatives designed to reshape the organization.

City Manager Dave Zabell introduced the work plan by stating that the public perception of any organization, private or public, is often shaped by the actions of a few, noting “there is no denying that the actions of a few, no longer with the department, had an adverse impact on the public’s perception of the department over the past year.”

Citing the professionalism and dedication of the department’s members, Zabell stated “Through the efforts being presented this evening, FPD is laying out an aggressive plan to better prepare the Department for the future and in doing so provide for a safer community.”

The plan involves several separate yet coordinated efforts aimed at improving department operations and effectiveness. These efforts include enhancing communications and organizational capacity, a critical review and assessment of the department conducted through the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Loaned Executive Management Assistance Program (LEMAP), extensive review and updating of departmental policies and procedures, community outreach, and state and national accreditation.

Several of these efforts are already underway or scheduled. The department has been working on communication and organizational issues since late in 2011, the

LEMAP assessment is scheduled begin in late March and the policy and procedure work is underway. The community outreach efforts will occur after some of the processes now underway are complete so participants will have the benefit of that work product. Finally, the department will pursue accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). The CALEA standard is the hallmark of professionalism within the law enforcement community. CALEA accreditation requires continuous improvement which will keep the organization at the highest levels of readiness.

The presentation noted internal and external pressures on Fife over the past several years, including growth, economic recession, and thousands of new residents. Those same pressures have impacted the Department resulting in expansion, retraction, changes in mission and working conditions, new programs, and regional obligations. To utilize available resources to their greatest effect, the operational models on which the Department was previously structured need to be strategically adjusted to account for current and future conditions.

Chief Blackburn stated, “The primary outcomes of the proposed efforts will be a Department that consistently demonstrates a high level of professionalism, marked by high morale, possessing a solid management structure, is well run, well resourced, well supported, has a clear mission that is understood by all within and outside of the organization and is working to maximum effect on behalf of Fife’s 9400 residents and vibrant business community.”

“The City Council and City Manager’s Office are in full support of the plan, the FPD leadership team is excited to be in a position to move these important processes forward and committed to their successful completion, and its members are eager to move forward and take the FPD to a new level,” said Blackburn.

To view the original presentation, a timeline for the project, and an expanded version of the program plan, please visit this link and click on “Police Department 2012-2013 Plan”.

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