When I retire this month, I will have served over 45 years in law enforcement with 13 of those years as the chief of police for the City of Bradenton.
I want to thank the men and women both civilian and sworn of the Bradenton Police Department for their support over the years. For without them and all their hard work, the Bradenton Police Department would not be what it is today -- a very fine professional police department that is customer service driven to keep our city and its citizens safe.
It was not easy at first being a new chief coming in from the outside (Washington, D.C.) back in December of 2002 with all my new ideas for running a police department and a community policing philosophy that holds law enforcement members accountable for their actions. But after some growing pains and the dismissal of some members who did not deserve to be police officers, things started to take shape.
As the change agent to establish a professional police department, we did three important things:
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First, we established a mission statement for the entire department to follow:
"The Mission of the Bradenton Police Department is to eliminate crime and the fear of crime, to enhance the quality of life for our stakeholders, and to hold ourselves to the highest professional standards of performance and ethics. The Bradenton Police Department is a professional driven organization that will partner with the Community to make the City of Bradenton a better place to live, work, visit, and conduct business."
Second, we established a department internal motto:
"Professionalism through Continuous Improvement."
Officers now strive to get better each and every day to provide the best customer service possible to all.
Third, we established a community policing philosophy:
A community policing philosophy was put into place from the top to bottom of the department, noting that community policing is not a program or just for a few officers but was really providing excellent customer service and to partner with all segments of our community.
And lastly I made it perfectly clear that all members of the Bradenton Police Department would be held accountable for their own conduct using discipline as a tool to teach and train for minor infractions and termination of employment if warranted for serious misconduct.
The department readily accepted these new ideas and the new BPD was established.
As a result, crime in the city has gone down approximately 37 percent in the past 13 years. This reduction is the sole result of community partnerships and the "Policing for Prevention Strategy" which is part of our overall community policing philosophy.
Citizen satisfaction and confidence in the department has increased significantly. Yet there is still more work to be done, and I wish incoming Chief Melanie Bevan even more successes in keeping this community safe.
Policing has changed since I began my career in 1970 as we are now part of the networked world. It's a world our sons and daughters will inherit soon enough, and those who enter law enforcement will become the New Centurions. We should do all we can to make this a better profession and a better world for them to police in. God bless them all serving now and those New Centurions to come.
I thank Mayor Wayne Poston for giving me the opportunity to serve as the City of Bradenton's chief of police. The mayor has shown time and time again that the City of Bradenton deserves a professional police department and under his leadership that became a reality.
I also want to thank the City Council, department heads and the entire city staff for their support and assistance over the years. More important to me, I thank the citizens of this community for their partnership with BPD which did result in City of Bradenton becoming a better place to live, work, visit or conduct business.
I would be remiss if I did not also thank Sheriff Brad Steube, all the other Manatee County police phiefs, and the entire law enforcement community, which works together daily in providing Manatee and Sarasota counties with professional law enforcement.
Albert Einstein said, "Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living" and so far for me after more than 45 years of service I agree! I hope to find ways to serve other than law enforcement in my retirement.
God Bless you and stay safe!