Hello and Happy Holidays,
As we celebrate this joyous season, I want to offer my appreciation and thanks to each one of you.
You have given so much to this department and City this year:
During a once-in-a-generation pandemic you never stopped serving the people of this city or supporting each other.
You facilitated civil rights demonstrations while also protecting the public from violent individuals who co-opted the call for change.
You kept showing up to work, even in precincts that were boarded up and persistently the targets of violence.
As cities across the country experienced unprecedented increases in violence, you have done the work necessary to bring those numbers back down.
You will take over 1,000 guns off the street this year — the fourth year in a row.
Working together, officers and detectives will again surpass the national homicide clearance rate average (78% compared to 61%)…bringing justice and closure to devastated families.
Patrol officers responded to a remarkable increase in commercial burglaries as businesses closed up due to the pandemic. Making over 600 commercial burglary arrests, often the same person multiple times.
You accomplished so much in the face of such unique challenges – and you did it all in the face of a on-going budget cuts, including the largest mid-year cut on record. We dramatically decreased overtime spending, even as staffing became critical, and we still met our budget.
This year has been like none other.
BUT with the close of 2020, we see hope on the horizon.
With 2021 comes a chance to hire as many officers as we can. In one year we lost the equivalent of our South and Southwest precincts. You responded by being flexible and answering the call to support patrol.
Here is an ask of you – if you know someone who you think would be a good SPD officer, or someone thinking of coming back, please let them know we are hiring.
We will redouble our efforts to directly engage the community. Both at our facilities and in a renewed focus on addressing the public safety needs in every neighborhood. Everything we do is about the relationships we build. Solving crime, problem solving for crime prevention, we need to continue to build a relationship-based model of policing.
2021 also will mean access to the COVID vaccine, with police and other first responders near the front of the line, and then our friends and families. I will keep you updated as we get more details on the vaccine and advocate for early access to it.
Again, I want to thank each of you for your dedication to this department. I know this has been a challenging year. I understand why many felt it right to leave.
But know this.
2021 will be better.
I still believe we have the best police department in the country. I know from my interactions every day this community respects you and wants you.
So, in these last few days of this year – and throughout 2021 – take time for yourselves and your loved ones. We each need to value ourselves and our health.
Thank you for all you do.
Whatever you might celebrate – happy holidays. And have a very happy New Year.