All three men vying to be Durango’s next police chief identified community policing as an important tactic for making a city safer.
About 50 people – including city councilors, community members and the mayor’s youth advisory commission – mingled at the Durango Community Recreation Center with interim Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer, Colorado State Patrol Capt. Adrian Driscoll and Casa Grande, Arizona, Deputy Police Chief Reginald Winston – all of whom have been selected by City Manager Ron LeBlanc as potential leaders of the city’s police department.
Former Durango Police Chief Kamran Afzal left the department in December to be closer to his family on the East Coast. Brammer, who’s been with the department for 18 years, was chosen to lead the department in the interim.
Brammer said he applied for the position because he wants to make a difference. In the time he’s spent with the department, Brammer said he has seen a lot of change. And as the city developed, Brammer said he “tailored” his professional development to the needs of the community.
There’s a lot facing the Durango Police Department, both internal and external, Brammer said. Internally, “retention and turnover is one of the biggest issues,” he said. It’s hard for the department to compete financially with Front Range agencies, and the best way to keep officers in Durango is to provide them with the support they need, Brammer said.
“I may be at the top, but my job is to support the officer,” he said.
Winston said he applied for the job because the expectations and challenges of the community are a good fit with his skill set. Homelessness may be the most pressing issue facing the Durango Police Department, he said, and the best way to address the problem is to collaborate with the community.
Proactive policing is the most effective approach to enforce the law in a community, Winston said. That means being out in the community and communicating with residents and business owners about how to make Durango safer. And on his first trip to Durango, he’s made a point to talk with people around town, Winston said.
“The last six hours have made a lasting impression,” he said.
Driscoll said he applied for the job because he sees it as an opportunity to better engage with the community. One of the most pressing issues in Durango is violent crime, Driscoll said. He wants to make the community safer.
Getting out into the community is the most effective way to reduce violent crime, Driscoll said. The department needs to host listening sessions with community members to understand what are the most pressing issues to community members and how law enforcement can address problems before they become violent, he said.
“To really control crime rates – if you engage the community, you get a jump start,” Driscoll said.
The candidates will undergo an assessment with 22 community members Friday. After that, LeBlanc will evaluate comments and make a decision within a few weeks.