I've lived in Santa Cruz for more than 23 years. I've raised my family here and know that her thoughts are not unique. Throughout the community I've heard that we need to change; that to be successful, a strong sense of unity and shared purpose must exist between your police and the community.
Over the past few months I've implemented some changes to our department that I believe will help make our agency more accessible, visible and accountable to our community. We want to reflect the core values of our community, and we always believe we can be better.
During this time I have implemented a chief's advisory committee, with representatives from neighborhoods, businesses, faith communities, prevention groups and other organizations to ensure that underrepresented voices are heard and that honest feedback is received. I have re-created our community services unit to ensure a consistent voice and presence for our neighborhoods. I am establishing a full-scale volunteer program to leverage the unique talents of our residents.
I initiated a top-to-bottom review of our agency, and plan to work on a restructuring that will maximize efficiencies and minimize costs to our strained city. Additionally, I re-allocated resources to increase our presence downtown, placing more officers in the downtown beat than have been present for nearly 20 years.
But this is just a beginning. Over the coming months I plan to:
- Leverage technology to make our agency more accessible to the community including improving access to crime alerts, crime maps, and news and information.
- Initiate a predictive policing program that uses complex mathematical models to more effectively and efficiently allocate our resources.
- Expand on our new volunteer program and increase the number of reserve police officers within our agency.
We cannot afford to look at new problems in old ways. We cannot afford to measure progress with the same old benchmarks and the same tired methods. Truly, we cannot afford the status quo. I commit that our officers will take calculated risks, invest their time in innovation and succeed when our community succeeds. We need to look at problems with shared sacrifice and shared purpose.
After more than 23 years of service with the Santa Cruz Police Department, I have the honor and privilege to serve as your chief. I serve alongside the most dedicated group of men and women who want to continue to make this community proud.
I challenge our community to be united in actions, to speak with a common voice for a healthier, sustainable and safer community. We believe we can be better, and working together we know this community will be better. We need to continually ask, "What impact will we leave for the next generation?" Personally, I want to help reclaim the promise of our community that my neighbor spoke of: to help provide an environment where the collective aspirations of our children can be better than our own. There is no doubt in my mind that, if we work together, this is the impact we can leave.
Kevin Vogel is chief of the Santa Cruz Police Department.