Paradise Valley Police Department devises new set of marching orders

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert at the department headquarters Wednesday, Feb. 18. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert at the department headquarters Wednesday, Feb. 18. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

The Paradise Valley Police Department now has a new set of marching orders.

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert is to present town council with his strategic plan he contends will provide the department with a five-year road map of where the department is headed in terms of customer service and crime fighting.

Paradise Valley Town Council is expected Thursday, Feb. 25 to be presented the formal strategic plan at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, where the local governing board is expected to render a vote on the matter, police officials say.

The idea of a strategic plan has been a longtime coming as the latest incarnation of a strategic plan comes based on six recommendations handed down from the Paradise Valley Public Safety Task Force, which was comprised of more than 50 residents who participated regularly over an 11-week period.

The advisory committee was created following a series of home burglaries — 11 of the 54 reported in 2012 occurring over the last 60 to 90 days of the year. The Paradise Valley Public Safety Task Force, which was bound by town ordinance, consisted of five steering committee members with membership open to the general public.

“This is the final document that will be going to council for what we call, ‘receive and file,’” Chief Wingert said in a Feb. 17 phone interview.

“It is an all-encompassing document — there are specific goals and objectives in each of the plans. There are things that are deadlined for this year, but some don’t have dates attached to them. Once we knock down the goals with dates then we will go after the ones that do not have a date on them.”

The Paradise Valley Police Department has five goals outlined in the forthcoming strategic plan. They are:

  • Reduce crime and the fear of crime.
  • Encourage community empowerment.
  • Develop and empower department personnel.
  • Incorporate technology into the department.
  • Review and improve the work product.

Chief Wingert says while this plan comes on the heels of its original inception in June 2014 then later throughout 2015 the final version to be presented is a guiding document in every sense of the word.

“As I created this plan, I wanted to create a guiding document for the next five years,” he said. “For this to be a guiding document, you have to see where we have been to decide where we want to go. We want to see goals, we want to see objectives and we want to see initiatives.”

Paradise Valley Mayor Michael Collins lauds the efforts of Chief Wingert.

Michael Collins

Michael Collins

“The PVPD strategic plan that Chief Wingert presented us last week was well received,” he said in a Feb. 17 written response to e-mailed questions. “I am pleased with how the plan has drastically improved over the past two years. I think we finally have a quality plan that is in-line with community expectations of public safety.”

Mayor Collins says he believes the to-be-presented document is inline with the vision of the 2013 public safety task force.

“Residents should feel confident that Chief Wingert and his department have prepared a quality strategic plan, and one that meets both the intent and content requirements established by the 2013 public safety task force,” he said.

First things first

Chief Wingert says goal No. 1 of the strategic plan is No. 1 for a reason as property crime in Paradise Valley is on the rise.

“One of the great things for Paradise Valley would be reducing property crimes from non-secure properties,” he said noting that nearly half off all home burglaries have no evidence of forced entry. “Setting our alarms and locking our doors — those are really low-hanging fruit we should be able to succeed with.”

While Chief Wingert says the recent burglary uptick could not be considered a spike, the needle is moving.

“I wouldn’t call it a spike, but I would say there has been an increase overall,” he said. “Over the last three years we are up about 10 percent over the last three year average.”

Comparing calendar year 2014 to calendar year 2015 the Paradise Valley Police Department has seen about 63 more burglaries compared to the last three years while 40 percent of those burglaries occurred at unsecured properties, Chief Wingert says.

“The strategic plan is the roadmap of where the department is going for the next five years,” he said. “The initiatives in there will guide the department in order to reduce the level of crime and improve community empowerment.”

Public safety at the forefront

Paradise Valley Councilwoman Maria Syms calls the police department strategic plan — and its numerous goals attached to deadlined objectives — a great achievement.

Maria Syms

Maria Syms

“It shows that the concerns raised by residents over the past several years are being heard and there is a real plan in place to address them through a police-community partnership aimed at reducing crime and increasing awareness and peace of mind,” she said in a Feb. 17 written response to e-mailed questions.

“It also sets forth core values unique to our community policing philosophy such as service, integrity and respect for our residents. Chief Wingert is to be commended for his hard work on the plan along with the volunteers on the Advisory Committee on Public Safety who provided valuable input.”

Councilwoman Syms made her political bones on pointing out public safety concerns that have ultimately led to organizational change at the Paradise Valley Police Department.

“When I first brought public safety issues to the forefront of our town dialogue, the police department was understaffed and in need of some of the most basic technology such as license plate readers and laptops for the patrol cars and communication equipment,” she said of her campaign trail exploits. “We’ve come a long way since then, and we now have more boots on the ground and updated technology so our officers can spend more time in the field patrolling and less time at the station.”

Councilwoman Syms the majority of residents are concerned with the quality of life issues specific to property values.

“We cannot maintain or improve these things without the peace of mind a modern and robust police force provides,” she explained of the public safety connection. “While we have made great strides with the help of the strategic plan and the advisory committee on public safety, there is still work to be done form both a policing and policy standpoint. Studies show that there is a direct correlation between more boots on the ground and reduced crime rates — It is common sense.”

Councilwoman Syms she wants to see more police presence in Paradise Valley.

“One of the challenges we have faced is the cost of hiring new officers and we are still not at our pre-recession staffing levels,” she said. “I would like to see more police in the field, we currently have four officers patrolling per shift.”

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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