New Glendale Police Chief

More from this show

The city of Glendale recently hired a new police chief, Rick St. John. We’ll hear from St. John about his policing philosophy, which emphasizes community policing.

TED SIMONS: GLENDALE HIRED RICK ST. JOHN AS THE NEW POLICE CHIEF. HE IS A PROPONENT OF THE CONCEPT OF COMMUNITY POLICING OVER DATA DRIVEN RESPONSES. WE WELCOME RICK ST. JOHN.

RICK ST. JOHN: NICE TO BE HERE.

TED SIMONS: CONGRATULATIONS ON THE JOB. SOUNDS LIKE A DREAM JOB FOR YOU. YOU HAVE BEEN OUT THERE A LONG TIME.

RICK ST. JOHN: IT IS A DREAM JOB. I GREW UP IN THE CITY OF GLENDALE. POLICING IS THE FAMILY BUSINESS. MY FATHER WAS A POLICE OFFICER. I GREW UP IN A POLICE OFFICER'S HOME, AROUND THE JOB. GLENDALE IS THE AGENCY I TESTED FOR. IT'S WHERE I WANTED TO WORK. THEY OFFERED ME THE OPPORTUNITY AND I HAVE BEEN 20 YEARS WITH THE CITY.

TED SIMONS: SWORN IN LAST NOVEMBER. YOUR THOUGHTS AS MR. BIG?

RICK ST. JOHN: WHEN I TOOK OVER AS CHIEF, I BEGAN TO THINK OF THINGS DIFFERENTLY. AS THE ASSISTANT CHIEF IT'S THE DAY-TO-DAY OF WHAT HAPPENS IN THE DEPARTMENT. AS THE CHIEF, I'M RESPONSIBLE FOR SOMETHING BIGGER THAN DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS. THAT, I DEFINE AS THE CULTURE OF IF DEPARTMENT. WE MAKE STRATEGIES AS TO THINGS THAT NEED TO OCCUR. CRIME TRENDS CHANGE. THERE ARE THINGS THAT CAUSE US TO CHANGE OPERATIONS. ADMINISTRATION IS FAIRLY CONSISTENT, BUT THERE ARE TIMES YOU NEED TO CHANGE HOW YOU ARE ADMINISTERING AND HOW YOU DEPLOY RESOURCES. WE RELY ON THE CHANGES TO HAVE A LAGGING EFFECT ON THE CHANGES IN THE DEPARTMENT. WHAT WE HADN'T BEEN DOING IS DIRECTLY IMPACTING CULTURE IN POSITIVE WAYS THROUGH STRATEGIES DESIGNED TO DO JUST THAT, TO IMPACT THE CULTURE.

TED SIMONS: THE COMMUNITY POLICING POLICY YOU SAY YOU WANT TO IMPLEMENT HERE, AS OPPOSED TO DATA DRIVEN RESPONSES, WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO?

RICK ST. JOHN: WHEN I WAS HIRED IN 1996, WE HAD COMMUNITY ORIENTED POLICING. THAT IMPLIES WORKING TOWARD A COMMON GOAL. MY PHILOSOPHY, WE ARE NOT ORIENTED OURSELVES TO THE COMMUNITY. WE ARE THE COMMUNITY. BEFORE I'M A POLICE OFFICER, I'M A HUSBAND, FATHER, SHOPPER. I SPEND TIME IN THE CITY OF GLENDALE. I LIVE IN THE CITY OF GLENDALE. I CONDUCT MY LIFE IN THE CITY OF GLENDALE. I HAPPEN TO BE THE POLICE CHIEF AS WELL. MY OFFICERS ARE SIMILAR. THEY LIVE AND WORK AND RAISE FAMILIES IN THE COMMUNITY. I WANT MY OFFICERS IDENTIFYING AS MEMBERS OF THE COMMUNITY. WE ARE THE COMMUNITY. WE WANT TO IDENTIFY AS PART OF THE COMMUNITY.

TED SIMONS: IS THERE A TENDENCY SOMETIMES FOR POLICE OFFICERS TO BREAK AWAY FROM THAT AND SEE -- THEY ARE STILL PART OF THE COMMUNITY. THEY SEE THEMSELVES AS THE COMMUNITY, BUT NOT AS TIGHTLY AS YOU DESCRIBED

RICK ST. JOHN: ABSOLUTELY. THAT'S WHY WE NEED TO HAVE STRATEGIES TO IMPACT CULTURE IN THIS WAY. IT'S VERY EASY FOR POLICE OFFICERS, FIRST RESPONDERS, MILITARY TO FEEL SILOED, IN A WAY, FROM THE NORMAL COMMUNITY WE LIVE IN BECAUSE WE ARE THANKED FOR THE JOB WE DO. WE ARE SET ASIDE AND GIVEN ACCOLADES AND ALL THOSE KIND OF THINGS THAT ARE POSITIVE, BUT I WANT MY OFFICERS IDENTIFYING THAT WE ARE THE COMMUNITY. WE ARE RAISED UP BY THE COMMUNITY TO POLICE THE COMMUNITY. THERE IS A HIGH-LEVEL OF TRUST THAT EXIST AND THEY HAVE TO KNOW WE IDENTIFY WITH THEM.

TED SIMONS: YOU TALK ABOUT THIS COMPARED TO DATA DRIVEN RESPONSES. I THINK THAT'S RELATIVELY SELF EXPLANATORY. YOU LOOK AT THE NUMBERS TO TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHAT HAPPEN NEXT AND DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO. THAT'S NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING, IS IT?

RICK ST. JOHN: NO, BUT IT'S A TOP DOWN APPROACH TO CRIME. PATROL OFFICERS GO OUT IN THE FIELD, INVESTIGATORS FOLLOW UP ON CRIME AND THAT GENERATES INFORMATION. THE INFORMATION PRODUCES DATA FOR HIGHER LEVEL STAFF, CHIEFS, COMMANDERS, THEY ARE LOOKING AT THE DATA. WHAT ARE THE CRIME TRENDS AND HOW DO WE CHANGE THE DEPLOYMENT? THERE WAS ACCOUNTABILITY AT A COMMAND LEVEL TO RESPOND TO CRIME. UNDER A COMMUNITY POLICING PHILOSOPHY, FACE TO FACE INTERACTION DEVELOPING HUMAN INTELLIGENCE AND TAKING IT AT AN OFFICER LEVEL, LOOKING AT THE DATA SUPPLIED THROUGH CRIME ANALYSTS AND YOU ARE DEVELOPING YOUR RESPONSE TO CRIME TRENDS AT THE PATROL LEVEL PUSHING YOUR IDEAS TO GET APPROVAL FOR BUDGET, RESOURCES, WHATEVER YOU NEED.

TED SIMONS: THERE IS A PLACE FOR THE DATA, BUT DON'T DEPEND ON IT TOO MUCH, IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING?

RICK ST. JOHN: DATA DOESN'T DRIVE WHAT THEY DO.

TED SIMONS: RANK AND FILE ARE SAYING, REGION X, I'M SEEING GOOD STUFF AND THE DATA SAYS, REGION X IS A MESS. WHAT DO YOU DO THEN?

RICK ST. JOHN: WE DEVELOP A SCORE CARD FOR AREAS OF THE COMMUNITY. IT'S BASED ON CRIME, PART ONE, PART TWO, RESPONSE TIMES, TRAFFIC COLLISIONS. WE TAKE THE GEOGRAPHIC AREA AND LOOK AT A 15-YEAR CRIME TREND, 15-YEAR PROACTIVE ACTIVITY, WHAT'S THE LEVEL THAT'S TYPICAL FOR THE COMMUNITY. WHAT IS THE SERVICE THEY TYPICALLY RECEIVE AND RESPONSE TIMES. WHAT DO THEY TYPICALLY LOOK LIKE OVER THE COMMUNITY. OVER A 15-YEAR PERIOD, YOU CAN SEE IF YOU ARE MAINTAINING LEVEL. IF YOU ARE MAINTAINING LEVEL YOU GET A C GRADE. PROACTIVE ACTIVITY MEANS UPWARD TREND, THEN YOU HAVE A MARK IN LINE WITH THAT. YOU TAKE A CUMULATIVE SCORE SO THE AREA GETS A GRADE THAT IS BASED ON A 15 YEAR HISTORY NOT WHAT AN OFFICER IS PERCEIVING IS HAPPENING. WE LOOK AT WHAT IS OCCURRING IN THE COMMUNITY.

TED SIMONS: IT'S NOT RIGID SET IN STONE. IF THE OFFICER SEES SOMETHING, YOU HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO IT.

RICK ST. JOHN: ABSOLUTELY.

TED SIMONS: THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE RIGHT NOW AS FAR AS GLENDALE IS CONCERNED AND LAW ENFORCEMENT?

RICK ST. JOHN: THERE ARE NOT MANY CHALLENGES WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO OVERCOME. THE CHALLENGE I'M FACING, I THINK, IS HIRING, RECRUITING AND BRINGING THE RIGHT PEOPLE INTO THE ORGANIZATION. I WANT TO HIRE PEOPLE INVESTED NOT JUST IN BEING A POLICE OFFICER, BUT POLICING THE WEST VALLEY. AS YOU KNOW, THERE IS A DISTINCT DIFFERENCE IN HOW THINGS ARE DONE. OUR COMMUNITY IN THE WEST VALLEY HAS AN EXPECTATION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT WITHIN A CERTAIN BEHAVIOR PATTERN. IF WE HIRE PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE STATE OR COUNTRY AND BRING THEM IN AND TRY TO GET THEM TO ACCLIMATE, IT CAN BE DIFFICULT AT TIMES. IF WE HIRE PEOPLE THAT GREW UP AND UNDERSTAND WEST VALLEY CULTURE, THEY ARE INVESTED. THEY HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE. WE CAN TRAIN THEM ON THE TACTICS FOR BEING A POLICE OFFICER.

TED SIMONS: COMMUNITY POLICING FROM THE GET GO.

TED SIMONS: GOOD LUCK OUT THERE. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. WE APPRECIATE IT.

RICK ST. JOHN: THANK YOU.

Rick St. John: Glendale Police Chierf

Fiesta Mall

Phoenix Area Housing

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024
airs April 16

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates as part of ‘AZ Votes 2024’

The Capital building with text reading: Circle on Circle: Robert Lowell's D.C.
May 2

An evening with ‘Poetry in America’

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Poetry in America image with photos of four poets and the name of the show
airs April 18

Mushrooms, Weakness and Doubt 

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: