Community policing: ACOPS connects Paradise Valley public safety efforts

Police Chief Peter Wingert, in middle, and Patrol Lieutenant Freeman Carney after a 2016 event which benefits the Special Olympics. (submitted photo)

The Paradise Valley Advisory Committee on Public Safety, also commonly known as ACOPS, is succeeding in its goal of educating and engaging residents, according to a recent group update.

In the committee’s short-lived lifespan — having been created in 2015 — a number of goals have been met including resident participation, public meetings and a floor plan project for schools, resorts and places of worship.

Paradise Valley Councilwoman, and ACOPS Chair, Julie Pace provided an update on the seven-person volunteer committee at the Jan. 24 Town Council meeting, providing an overview of completed goals and future objectives.

Julie Pace

The 2018-19 fiscal year goals included completion and filing of the Paradise Valley Public Safety Foundation, competition of a construction security checklist, photo enforcement and legislative process and develop a place of worship network to increase safety.

In March 2015, Paradise Valley Town Council approved a resolution creating the ACOPS group; it met for the first time shortly after in June 2015. Then, in October 2017 the Town Council voted to revise the resolution to make ACOPS a permanent committee.

Ms. Pace explained that while the committee started out on a temporary basis, it was found to have value.

“It’s very exciting to have such a great chief, a great police department and a great volunteer committee,” Ms. Pace told the council.
“As your volunteer committee they look at a lot of things to educate the public on safety and the community. This is your moment to add things to the list.”

The committee’s four goals are:

  1. Promote resident participation and engagement
  2. Engage the community on public safety issues
  3. Receive presentations and materials from the Paradise Valley Police Department
  4. Advise the mayor and council on committee activities and recommendations.

“So what have we done towards our goals? Our chief is about metrics, he wants to see what we do to accomplish our goals,” Ms. Pace said of Paradise Valley Police Department Chief Peter Wingert.

ACOPS assisted the community in notification of 20 police department sponsored public meetings, Ms. Pace said, which includes public safety fairs, Special Olympics events and drug-take-back programs.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the committee completed a floor plan project for schools, resorts and places of worship to be utilized in case of an emergency.

“This was started before my two years of tour of duty for ACOPS, it was started under the previous committee, and took us until this time to finish it, but we do have all of those plans in to the police department, which helps with security issues,” Ms. Pace explained.

“Hopefully never needed, but security and active shooter issues and things of that nature.”

In terms of engaging the community on public safety issues, Ms. Pace says columns in the local newspaper have included topics such as drones, helicopter rescues, bicycle and pedestrian issues,, alarm monitoring and more.

The committee also created a construction security checklist that has now been passed on to town officials to pass out when a new residential permit is requested.

The presentations at the ACOPS meetings has included: The relationship between Special Olympics and law enforcement; domestic violence awareness activities; alarm monitoring program; the welcome wagon program; strategic plan review; and photo enforcement.

“The welcome wagon program, which now the chief and his team are sending that USB port in a card to every single new resident that comes to town — it’s about $50-60 per month still on average,” she said.

“So it’s a nice place, it will get improved as we go along, but it’s a great place to put information and try to educate people in our community. And, to welcome them and meet the chief and understand these activities. It makes our community safer, that’s why we’re the second safest community in the state of our size.”

Ms. Pace also discussed how Chief Wingert and the local resorts meet to maintain safety, which includes different needs in the winter versus the summer.

The 2018 Paradise Valley Police Dream Team for Special Olympics Arizona (Submitted photo)

Emergence of public safety foundation

For the Paradise Valley Public Safety Foundation, a kick-off event is expected to occur in coming weeks, Ms. Pace said.

Following the presentation, Paradise Valley Town Council members issued gratitude and accolades to ACOPS and Ms. Pace for the work they’ve accomplished in the community.

“Since we’re already including the resorts and houses of worship, have we ever considered discussing information, meetings with our medical buildings and medical centers?” Councilwoman Ellen Andeen asked.

The town is home to a handful of medical plazas, and Ms. Pace expressed that she thought this was a great idea.

Ms. Andeen also suggested creating an event or activity that specifically celebrates and supports the law enforcement officers and volunteers.

“We have certain nonprofits in the community, the 100 Club, things of that nature, that support our officers and volunteers. I think that’s something we should consider in the ACOPS committee,” Ms. Andeen said.

Vice Mayor Scott Moore says he finds Ms. Pace’s updates on the committee to be interesting each time she presents.

“Your energy, your enthusiasm and your attention to detail is just remarkable,” Mr. Moore said.

“You’ve done an amazing job these last two years on this. I don’t know where you find the time to do what you do. Every one of your updates is interesting and I look forward to every one of them.”

Upcoming ACOPS events include a Wednesday, Feb. 6 Coffee with a Cop event at 7:30 a.m.; a public safety fair on Saturday, Feb. 23; and a citizen safety forum on Tuesday, March 19. For more information on these events and ACOPS, visit www.paradisevalleyaz.gov/571/Advisory-Committee-on-Public-Safety.

News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be reached by e-mail at mrosequist@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Mrosequist_

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