Nearly a year has passed since the launch of the St. Charles County Police Department, and to say it has been a big year is an understatement. In a short period of time, under the direction of Chief David Todd, the department has made quite an impression on the community by focusing on building relationships with citizens and educating the public on the role of law enforcement. Internally, the department is integrating programs and making efforts to improve already outstanding officer training and overall department response in the community. I’d like to share with you some of the year’s highlights:
- First Department Open House
The department hosted its first Open House on Sept. 12. Attendees enjoyed station tours, participated in mock crime scene investigations, explored department vehicles, and watched drug analysis demonstrations and safety presentations. Even kids had plenty of activities to enjoy. The event was a hit with approximately 600 citizens in attendance. Plans are in the works to make this an annual event.
As of November, the department was the first law enforcement agency in St. Charles County and in the entire St. Louis area whose officers were trained and authorized to carry and administer Narcan®, which helps those who have overdosed on heroin. Since 2013, the department has responded to 264 heroin-related calls. Now our officers have a way to help responding paramedics give people a second chance. Earlier this year, a drug collection unit was placed in the Police Department lobby in partnership with CVS/pharmacy® and the Department of Community Health and the Environment for citizens to dispose of unwanted or expired medications safely. To date, the department has collected over 400 lbs. of medications.
- First Citizens Police Academy
The department's first Citizens Police Academy launched this fall. The inaugural class of 20 encompassed citizens from a variety of backgrounds, but this was the first time each citizen had taken a citizen-oriented police academy course. The 12-week academy met from Sept. 21 through Dec. 7 and included sessions on crime scene investigations, crime laboratory operations, firearms, use of force, police K9, special ops and more.
The department launched Facebook and Twitter pages this year to reach and engage with citizens, and the success has been overwhelming. Citizen engagement on these pages is high, especially in requests for assistance. The department even held the first law enforcement “Tweet-Along” in the County – the opportunity for citizens to experience a day in the life of an officer in real-time.
A formalized training unit was developed to ensure consistency in officer training, and mandatory Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) was implemented this year. CIT improves law enforcement’s response to individuals experiencing mental health crises. Chief Todd and several officers completed the training this year, and the entire department will complete the training in 2016. Many of the department’s officers had received training prior to this year. In addition, the department formed a team of CIT officers who will link individuals in crisis with much-needed resources to ensure their safety and avert future crises.
The department began going through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA®) process. CALEA® works to improve the delivery of public safety services by maintaining a body of standards that result in professional excellence. The department’s goals for examining its policies and procedures under the CALEA®’s accreditation standards are to 1) strengthen the department’s crime prevention and control capabilities; 2) formalize essential management procedures; 3) ensure department personnel practices are fair and nondiscriminatory; 4) improve service delivery to the citizens of St. Charles County; 5) solidify interagency cooperation and coordination; and 6) increase community and staff confidence in the agency.
- Emergency Operations Plan
The department’s Division of Emergency Management completed a major comprehensive update and revision of the County’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The plan outlines the response by the division and County departments in the event of any natural or man-made emergency. In 2016, the division will begin holding exercises on the plan.