Establishing stronger connections with merchants and village residents will continue to be a central goal of the Genoa Police Department in 2013.
Police Chief Robert Bratton recently outlined some of his goals in a January letter directed to Mayor Mark Williams.
Those points included:
•Continuing the level of communication with the mayor and village council regarding police operations. The chief also intends to adjust his monthly reports to provide more information.
• Evaluation of community programs. Bratton said he intends to review the newly-revised Block Watch Program to see how it can be more informative for residents regarding crime issues and prevention programs.
• New vehicle purchase. The chief hopes to get through most of 2013 with the current fleet.
• Improving officer training through participation in the Owens Community program. For a one-time fee of $302 per year, all Genoa police officers have unlimited access to a variety of training programs at the site.
The program is part of the college’s new regional training push, involving local officials such as Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick and Clay Township Police Chief Terry Mitchell, to offer better services at reasonable rates.
Bratton said his officers have made great strides in recent months to reaffirm their commitment to businesses, residents and property owners.
As various reports are filed, Bratton said he intermittently calls those affected for status updates or to talk about how the situation was handled.
“It’s just good customer service is how I look at it,” Bratton said. “One thing is for sure, I really want to work with the merchants. They have been shortchanged over the years,”
Genoa Custom Interiors owner David Grosjean affirmed that the merchants’ ties with the police department have grown significantly stronger under Bratton’s guidance.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Grosjean said. “It’s been a wonderful transition. He brings integrity, experience, to a job that needed it.”
And, Grosjean noted, Bratton lives within the Genoa corporation limits. “So he’s also invested in what happens here.”
The chief has also moved the monthly department staff meeting out of the police station and into the community in the latter half of 2012. The meetings have been held at the Genoa Retirement Center, Genoa Bank and the local library.
And it’s met with great success from both sides as far as Bratton is concerned.
“People love it. They think it’s great. It’s a chance for the guys to get out of the office and get to know the people in these businesses,” Bratton explained, “You start to build a rapport.”
A member of the police department also regularly attends the merchants meeting each Tuesday.
“It’s nice. It shows our involvement and keeps us up on what’s happening without them having to track us down to ask questions,” Bratton said.
Grosjean agreed. He said having police department personnel regularly at those meetings helps to quickly clear up issues ranging from traffic duty at special events to break-in concerns.
The initiatives are also good for his officers’ morale, the chief added.
“They guys wanted a change. They wanted to get away from the image before.”
The western Ottawa County police department was struggling with a number of internal department issues for a couple of years prior to Bratton’s hiring. Officers complained about in-house harassment and unfair labor practices. The problems culminated with the unexpected resignations of both the former police chief and administrator within weeks of one another.