Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois has ideas to keep the department on its progressive path, the foundation of which was paved by chiefs before he took over earlier this month, he said recently.
Recruitment and retention, new technology and a community presence are just a few of the things Sirois wants to push forward with during his tenure as chief.
“I think we’re well positioned at this point. Chief (Ron) Street, who I started under, and Chief (John) Lowry were both progressive chiefs. I think we’re well positioned now for the future, more than we have ever been. We’ve got some great and up and coming officers, some great and up and coming supervisors, and I think they’ll take the police department to the next level,” Sirois said.
One of those “next level” advancements includes more in-depth crime mapping, he said. The police department already generates some crime mapping to help officers patrol certain areas of the city more effectively. But Sirois plans to take that further with a crime analyst, a position already in the 2012-13 budget.
“Crime mapping and crime analysis, bringing that to the next level and making that more of a crime prevention tool for us (and) using that in a more robust way,” is something Sirois said he wants to do soon.
“We have a couple of police officers who are doing some crime mapping and analysis but what we’d like to do in the future is hire a crime analyst, someone who has the background and training in crime analysis so we can take that person, integrate them into what we’re doing and make that more robust,” he said.
Of course, all the crime analysis in the world won’t do much good without competently trained officers to carry out the directives that might result.
“Recruitment and retention are very important,” Sirois said. “It’s extremely import we get the best people. We’ve got a pretty stringent process of assessment for officers coming on, but we want to make that as broad as we can and we want to get a good representation in our department.”
Sirois believes there are local citizens who might be interested in becoming a police officer and he wants to find them.
“As far as the recruitment goes, we’ve done some aggressive recruitment in the past. What I’d like to do is broaden that and do more community recruitment. You see people in the city who have some interest in becoming police officers.
“I’d like to work toward recruiting even young people who are interested in serving their community in the future. We’ve got the explorer program and the junior police academy and you can do those and still not go into law enforcement,” he said. “What better way to serve your community than to become part of your local law enforcement agency.”
He hopes to see young adults take advantage of those kinds of programs to give them a taste of police work and those potential recruits can use it as a stepping stone to study criminal justice.
“What I would like to do is develop that even more and exploit the resources we have right here in the community.”
The JCPD has always had a focus on community oriented policing and problem-oriented policing, and Sirois also plans to keep on that track as well.
“Community oriented policing, getting with the community, finding out what the issues are on whatever level and working with the community to solve those problems, the recurrent problems,” Sirois said. “Problem-oriented policing is when we find out there’s a problem or an issue that we need to address and we put into effect a program or project to address that and try to take care of it so it doesn’t come back.”
Sirois said the plans are broad, but have a focus.
“It is a work in progress. We do have some broad plans … we have a lot of great people to fulfill the challenge that’s before us. I think we have several challenges out there in our community but we have the people who can step up to the plate,” he said.
“We’re positioned to step into the next part of the policing in the 21st century, which includes some of the technological things, but it’s all about people. It’s all about taking care of the people in your community; it’s all about listening to them.”