By Rick Wyffels, Alexandria Police Chief
When I started my career in law enforcement all the way back in March of 1984, we used to have a saying, the city ends at the bean field. This meant that things that occurred outside of the boundary were not necessarily the responsibility of a 20-year-old police officer. My duty was to take care of the city and let those problems “out there” be dealt with by somebody else.
Fast forward to 2020 and this is no longer the case. In actuality, this has not been the case for some time. The world today is incredibly connected and it is absolutely essential that law enforcement works to foster partnerships and build bridges with those around us.
Partnerships with who? That answer is easy; we need to build partnerships with everyone! Other law enforcement agencies, such as the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) at the state level, but also with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the national level. At the local level, we need to build partnerships with the other agencies within our region, including the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Criminal behavior does not confine itself to our city or our county, but remains a fluid situation that doesn’t pay attention to borders. We as an agency have worked to and will continue to build bridges with those entities in the event that we need to work together on an incident. In my time, I have found these partnerships critical to coming to successful resolutions and have found that the establishment of these partnerships prior to needing them to be even more important.
What else is the Alexandria Police Department doing to ensure that we are engaged in actively building and maintaining partnerships within the law enforcement community? I am the chairman on a committee for the Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS), which is overseen by the FBI and allows me the chance to network with other law enforcement officials from all over the country. Captain Scott Kent attended the FBI’s National Academy in 2016 and is able to utilize resources that he obtained there on a weekly basis.
APD is also an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) affiliate, which allows us access to immense resources as we work locally to combat child exploitation cases. It is not uncommon for those to take on an international component and our local investigators have responded to complaints from the other side of the world because the subject happened to reside locally. We are also a member of the West Central Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, which is an agreement with surrounding counties and municipalities to work together to fight drug and violent crime offenses. We have members of our agency that are also involved in local committees that meet on domestic violence, opioid abuse, and mental health.
I have found, on a personal level, that growing partnerships and building bridges is among my favorite aspects of this job. We as an agency will continue to promote positive relationships with our community as it will continue to be a vital asset to providing quality police service to our region.
• • •
Rick Wyffels is the Alexandria police chief. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.