CRESTVIEW — Since becoming Crestview’s police chief last October, Tony Taylor has implemented departmental changes to bring compliance with state standards and investigative benefits for the north county office.
Increased public presence
Currently, the department awaits cost estimates for moving its P.J. Adams Parkway dispatch communications center to the Stillwell Avenue administrative office.
Earlier this year, Taylor extended the administrative office’s hours. A 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-through-Friday schedule meant Friday was a regular office day again, but that was just a preview of what could come. Taylor wants the office open 24-7, and consolidating the communications and administrative offices purportedly is one way to do that.
"The police department is supposed to be the safe haven in the community," he said, indicating that having just a dispatch call box available after business hours undercuts that purpose.
Additionally, Taylor said he and the Crestview Fire Department would collaborate on a public safety academy that would teach residents how law enforcement and emergency crews work effectively.
Earning the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation’s approval — and its related benefits — requires the Crestview PD to meet several standards that include updating its policy manual.
Accreditation would allow the Crestview PD to join the Florida Police Accreditation Coalition, a non-profit corporation in which hundreds of state law-enforcement agencies can network and share strategies and resources.
The accreditation process is slow, but Taylor said he wants all departmental policies updated by summer’s end. The former Fort Walton Beach police officer will use that city’s handbook as a model.
An earlier phase, updating the department’s organizational chart, resulted in designating specific responsibilities for each of the five lieutenants. For example, Lt. Andrew Schneider oversees the agency’s training and special operations, while Lt. Eddie Lehneis oversees criminal investigations.
A new promotions policy requires applicants to have more education; time in the agency; law enforcement experience; and training before receiving consideration. It replaces a procedure that simply required submitting a resume or having a supervisor’s appointment.
A planned procedural change in employee evaluations will help the department determine, with a glance on the page, the officer’s caliber, Taylor said.
"There are things that need to be done, but we are heading in the right direction," Taylor said. "I'm going to do what I need to do to get us where we need to be."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.