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Farmville Police Department Goes To Gel

There is no arrested development in the Farmville Police Department.

Under the leadership of Chief Doug Mooney-and the leadership shown by the department's officers, in response-the department is developing its connection with the community and its ability to maximize the law enforcement capabilities of all personnel on behalf of the community.

In the sixteen months since he assumed the position of chief, Mr. Mooney and the department have made tremendous concurrent strides in many important directions. Already a resident of Farmville, Chief Mooney came from the Chesterfield County Police Department with a wealth of experience, a firm understanding of this community, and an effective awareness of the Farmville Police Department.

Chief Mooney is not the only man to give his best on behalf of the community from the position of police chief but, in the wake of the Town Council-authorized 2009 assessment of the department, he faced defined challenges to realize the department's full potential. No praise of Chief Mooney is intended to be, nor should it be viewed as, criticism of anyone who came before him. The praise is what it is-an acknowledgment of the exemplary work being done by the man who is now chief of police and, as a result, the exemplary work being done by the department as a whole. It is clearly a team effort.

The swift steps toward accreditation speak of emphatic progress in many directions, given that accreditation encompasses so many aspects of a police department. Accreditation normally takes three or four years for most departments to complete, according to Chief Mooney, but after 14 months the department found itself within a year of the evaluation process that precedes passage into accredited status, which means the department meets national standards. Accreditation would be a first for the Town's police department.

As Farmville Town Manager Gerald Spates said, “I think we've addressed everything (in the 2009 assessment). What were weaknesses are now strengths…I'm proud of what Doug's done.”

Mr. Spates also made the appropriate point of applauding the department's officers, saying it “was critical” that they bought into Chief Mooney's leadership and plans for the department. There is no leading if nobody follows and the best leadership nurtures the leadership capabilities of those following-which is being proved true within the Farmville Police Department.

Effective leaders also make those around them feel good about themselves and the work they are doing, the mission they are working to accomplish together.

“The department, since I've been here, is made up of people who want to do the right thing and they're striving to do the right thing and they're hardworking people. It's a very good police department,” Chief Mooney stated, “made up of very good police officers.”

Accreditation, and the other department initiatives, Chief Mooney noted, “will further help our professionalism.”

A small word that makes a big point is Chief Mooney's use of “our.” Further help “our professionalism,” he said, not their professionalism. All for one and one for all. “Our” says everything about Chief Mooney's approach, the way he sees himself and the department. They are all aboard the same ship.

When asked to assess Chief Mooney's year and a half as police chief, Police Lieutenant Andy Ellington said Chief Mooney is “taking us in an entirely different direction…taking us to higher standards.”

There is, said Lt. Ellington, “a lot more accountability and responsibilities. We're moving in the right direction.”

With the new policies and guidelines, he observed, “everything is spelled out. You know exactly what to expect…What you can and can't do.”

All of those things “lead to a better police officer and a stronger police department,” Lt. Ellington said.

Ask Chief Mooney and he says, “The officers take pride in delivering good services.”

Central to that is developing a relationship of trust with the community, which the department has embraced with vigor, making community outreach an absolute theme, whether it be National Night Out or developing Neighborhood Watch Programs. Chief Mooney calls it “getting more face-to-face time with people in a non-confrontational or enforcement setting. And we've been able to do that.”

The trust and lines of communication between the department and the community it serves has already proven to help law enforcement. The department is seeing more people call to report illegal activities and those people are seeing the department respond with determination.

Chief Mooney is not limiting with his praise, lavishing kudos on the police officers and the public, alike.

“I'm not only pleased with the officers of this department but with the citizens,” he said. “The response and support that I've been given and the department has been given, it's a great town, it's a great department, and great people here, so we have everything in place.

“Everything is working out very well.”

And that well is in no danger of going dry.

-JKW-