I believe public servants are guardians to the community. They must have a servant’s heart and always act in a way that recognizes not only our obligation to the law but also our obligation to protect the community and consider actions that are punitive only when necessary. They must have a problem solving approach that is data driven and they must understand the root causes of problems to develop specific approaches to resolve the issue. This big picture understanding in combination with the heart to serve allows me to lead the best Sheriff’s Office in the nation.
In leading the Kent County Sheriff’s office, I create a guardian culture by focusing on preparing the staff to look at the big picture and the whole circumstance before acting. I empower the staff to work outside of normal approaches and resolve issues in the best interest of the community and individuals. I strive to train the staff with broader perspective of options. In addition, I empower them to treat citizen contacts as an opportunity to teach and prevent bad outcomes through education and preventative practices. In our correctional facility, I ensure that each incarcerated person is treated with dignity and is well cared for. Every person who is incarcerated is given opportunity for treatment, education and work programs designed to meet their personal need. Every member of our community has an opportunity to improve their future and make better, more informed decisions. This helps the community on whole as it creates a safer community with less crime.
I also ensure that each staff member of the staff has the personal support they need to be successful in their work. I am cognisant of the heavy emotional and physical burden that is born by each member of the staff and strive to ensure they have the necessary tools and education to work safely and in a way that brings them satisfaction. I ensure there is comprehensive initial training and quality ongoing training for each service delivery member of the department. I also provide oversight and coaching to help each staff member to develop and grow in their ability to serve.
Our community guardianship requires a true understanding of the needs of the people we serve. This requires me to base decisions on facts, not assumptions and to have constant quest for more answers. It also requires me to understand that I serve an incredibly vibrant and diverse population. I ensure our practices constantly evolve and are informed by our community in order to stay effective and equitable. I have a robust and growing community outreach program and have leveraged social media and a mobile app designed to make information more accessible and timely for the community. These mechanisms allow specific information to be communicated to a neighborhood or school or the entire county as necessary. My staff and I strive to be available to the community for relationship building events where we can gain mutual understanding and respect. These contacts help us to grow as an organization and continue to evolve to provide equitable and inclusive service to all. This service must include timely and professional response to emergency needs and thorough resolution of incidents when they happen.