Last month, Georgetown Police Chief Wayne Nero was invited to participate in a White House Briefing Series to discuss 21st Century policing.
As an adjunct instructor for the Department of Justice’s VALOR Program, Chief Nero has been working toward and speaking about 21st-century professionalism for some time. VALOR Training provides critical nationwide, no-cost officer safety training to all levels of law enforcement. Despite his clear competence, the Chief admits it was an honor to be invited.
“The White House briefings have allowed law enforcement executives to discuss the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report,” Nero says, “on issues related to police-community relations. What I found interesting is that what the Task Force recommended are things that we’ve been doing and will continue to do.”
The Chief explained that the GPD has been consistently building trust and community engagement since he arrived here in 2010. “The report is a good starting point for agencies who do not have the strategic planning that we have, especially in strengthening relationships. While I feel we are actively engaged in this area, I also feel we have work to do.”
He adds, “Community Policing is not a special program. Officers are people chosen from the community to serve, stand guard and protect. Sometimes, officers have fewer opportunities to interact with the public due to technology, and relationships may suffer. Ideally, people know each others’ names. Our premise is getting back to stronger relationships in the community. Community Policing is nothing more special than building strong relationships and collaborative problem solving. That’s what we’re commissioned to do.”
In the past year, GPD has launched its Deployment Team, activated a demilitarized MRAP vehicle and, for the eighth year in a row, reduced the per capita rate of incidents. Chief Nero reports that all of these things have not always had universal support but the success is in the numbers. The Advocate will provide a close-up look at the Deployment Team in a future issue.
As far as being at the White House, Nero says, “It was an honor to be there and the experience provided value to Georgetown in knowing that we are headed in the right direction with regards to the Task Force recommendations. We received some valuable ideas and have lots of good work yet to do. I’m proud of the work our staff has accomplished this far in raising the bar for Georgetown, and we will continue to refuse mediocrity.”