By Mary O’KEEFE
On Tuesday a Glendale City Council workboot meeting was held at the Glendale Police Dept.’s community room. The meeting allowed GPD to present information on current GPD projects including training officers in areas of crisis negotiation, evaluation of mental health and weaponless defense tactics.
“I think Glendalians should feel fortunate to live in a city that just recently has been ranked third safest in the country,” said Mayor Paula Devine. “There is no denying we have a great police department, but we should also be aware that our officers are well-prepared for everything and anything.”
Police Chief Robert Castro shared recent statistics that included the number of calls for service in 2015 was 50,052 and this year, from January through July, is 31,330. There were 166 guns recovered in the first seven months of 2016 and 27 persons arrested with guns during that same time period. The use of force by Glendale police was at its lowest in 2012, with 92 incidents reported; 149 was the number in 2014 and from January to July, 2016 GPD has reported 60 uses of force.
“I am very proud to have this opportunity to highlight the professional men and women who make up the Glendale Police Department. For quite some time now we have watched while horrific events transpire across this nation [with] officers involved in violence and officers being the victims of violence and homicides,” Castro said. “What makes Glendale different? It is a culture. A culture that has formed over many years because of the great partnership city government has with the residents we serve.”
Dep. Chief Carl Povilaitis then invited officers from the Crisis Negotiation Team to explain how they approach each incident. While it is not uncommon for communication to be done face to face in a crisis situation, most likely it would be handled via a phone. Officers contact those who are in crisis, either a suspect or someone in need, via cellphones or with phones they bring. Team members shared an incident when they had to talk a suicidal man into walking away from his home, where he had threatened a family member. They were successful in saving the family member as well as the man.
The Council also heard of a new mental health and evaluation services program in which an officer works with Los Angeles County Mental Health experts. Training includes intervention and evaluation of a person and training with Las Vegas Metro Police to see how they handle those with mental illness. Locally officers work directly with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services to help when dealing with homeless individuals. Oftentimes an officer will make an arrest, then that person is out on the street and is arrested again. To stop the cycle police are now trained to evaluate the individual and get them proper help.
Throughout the workboot meeting the emphasis at GPD was on communication and training. Officers learned how to deescalate a situation through psychological training and, when needed, physically through martial arts training.
The next regular meeting of the Glendale City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 23.