Police Dept. Gets It Done; Critical Assessment Provided To-Do List

Published 2:29 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2014

FARMVILLE — The to-do list was so big it might have been visible from the International Space Station.A town council-instigated assessment of the Farmville police department in 2009 by retired Chapel Hill, North Carolina police chief Gregg E. Jarvies included these identified areas of improvement:

Seek accreditation.

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Make a comprehensive overhaul of the police manual.

Create a mission statement, set the department’s goals and values.

Work on the use of force policy.

Reorganize the department.

Develop an organizational chart.

Strengthen and train the supervisors and then enforce the policies put in place. Establish a legitimate, transparent complaint system.

Develop and enhance training and increase the training budget.

Enhance community partnerships and community policing.

Enhance relations with Longwood University and improve student relations. Enhance relations with regional law enforcement.

Improve the police vehicle fleet.

As now retired police chief Doug Mooney made his “state of the department” report to town council, citing each area of needed improvement, every Town official listening knew improvement had been made in every area during the five years of Mooney’s leadership of the department.

The got-it-done list could also be seen from space.

“The starting point would be the assessment, and I give town council…a lot of credit for asking for the assessment…knowing that it would be critical,” Mooney told town council, in a wrap-up of his tenure as police chief, “but that assessment gave us a very good guideline of exactly what we needed to work on, where to start and where to go.”

And it all began with the hiring of Mooney, on the heels of completion of the departmental assessment, and where it went was a methodical undertaking of every deficiency.

Entering into the accreditation process, he said, “was the single most important thing that we did as an agency…This process, in and of itself, took care of a lot of the deficiencies that we had, pretty much almost all of them. And it is a very intense process and we were able to do it in a period of three years, from start to finish, and earned our accreditation in March of 2013.”

Work was begun on the department’s policy manual the very first week Mooney arrived five years ago.

The department had to write it from the ground up.

It is city phone book thick.

Encyclopedically comprehensive.

It lists everything.

“This is our bible,” Mooney explained. “This tells the officers exactly what we will do, how we will do things. It protects the officers individually. It protects the department. It protects the Town from civil liability. We’re never protected completely but it has protected us quite a bit by giving them guidelines.”

As for the organizational chart, the department now has two divisions and each division is commanded by a lieutenant.

“There is a supervisor working every minute of the day. There is a sergeant or a corporal working,” Mooney said, “so the town is not left without any supervision for patrol officers and that’s a very important thing and we didn’t have that in 2010.”

The department’s captain handles oversight of its professional standards and internal affairs.

This includes citizen complaints and internal complaints.

“They’re fully investigated. We have to police our own,” Mooney said, “and we have to ensure that our standards are being met.”

Reaching out to the community, in Mooney’s estimation, is “the most critical thing that I think we’ve done.”

The department has ranked in the top 25 every year for its National Night Out program, for communities of its size. “Which is outstanding,” Mooney said, giving credit to Sergeant Chris Moss, who handles that annual assignment.

The department also operates the largest TRIAD program in the state, he reported, singling out Lieutenant W. H. Hogan for leading that venture, which sees at least 100 senior citizens attending those crime prevention meetings.

The department’s other community outreach programs include Operation Blue Christmas, Guns and Hoses Blood Drive, Ride-along program, the Citizens Police Academy, the Police Explorers Program and CSI and Police Cadet camps through the Town’s Department of Recreation.

Fostering better relations with Longwood’s population has seen the department improve “the way we enforce laws with university students. We do enforce laws fairly but we also have an educational aspect with it,” Mooney said, describing the ways the department interacts with the campus community, such as speaking at the new student orientation each fall and the off-campus orientation every spring.

Touching on other subjects, Mooney cited upgrades to the department vehicle fleet and weapons.

As well as tasers.

“We have tasers, which have lowered our use of force incidents,” he pointed out. “It’s also lowered the incidents of injuries to officers and suspects. Most people will comply if they see that you have a taser. That’s a good thing.”

Before signing off and heading toward re-entry into civilian life, splashing down in retirement, Mooney thanked town council and town manager Gerald Spates for their non-interference in departmental matters.

“You allowed me to do my job, allowed me to motivate, to encourage the officers, hire, to discipline and that’s critical for a police chief to be able to do, as long as I’m doing my job, without any influence. Gerry has allowed me to do that, y’all have allowed me to do that and I very much appreciate that and the department thrives because of that.”

The kudos flowed in both directions during Mooney’s final presentation to town council.

“It takes a special person to see what we’re going through and understand our goals and our vision to get the department to where it needs to be,” Ward D councilman Donald L. Hunter told Mooney. “And to see that and to accomplish it in the time that you have, I really commend you on it.”

While Mooney has left the department, the department has not left his mind.

“I know,” he told town council, “you will pick somebody who will use their skills, talents and education to further us to the next level.”