THE SANTA ANA POLICE DEPARTMENT
IS LOOKING TO THE PAST TO IMPROVE THE FUTURE
In 2019, the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD) will be celebrating 150 years of providing law enforcement services to the great people of Santa Ana. SAPD serves a diverse residential population of 343,000, that increases to well over half a million during the business week. Santa Ana hosts various County, State, and Federal agencies, and one foreign diplomatic mission. It is also home to a large industrial and commercial business district that employs thousands. It has a growing artists’ community of businesses located in the historic downtown area, which include upscale and trendy restaurants, making it a real “foodie” dream.
As the city experiences a revitalization, so is the Department. Leading the department’s revitalization is Chief David Valentin, a 28-year veteran of SAPD. While being a 28-year veteran of the Department is incredible, what really makes the Chief stand out is that he is the first SAPD Chief to be born, raised and educated in the city of Santa Ana. Chief Valentin understands his community and the unique characteristics that make Santa Ana a great city to serve as an officer at any rank.
Barely under a year in office, Chief Valentin is leading the Department through a full transformation of going back to “the basics.” Senior Command Staff is comprised of three newly selected Deputy Chiefs, all with a combined 72 years of service with SAPD. Chief Valentin believes in establishing and maintaining strong ties with his community, and expects all members, regardless of rank or position, to do the same. As featured in IACP’s 2017 short film project, Chief Valentin wants his officers to “get out of their cars and talk to the community they serve.” Focusing on generating and sustaining trust with the community by maintaining transparency as the foundation are the cornerstone of SAPD servant leadership model under the motto of serving on ONE TEAM with the Santa Ana community, jointly working on ONE MISSION with the community.
As modern policing goes, not all the answers are found in technology. SAPD is developing a policing philosophy supported by a Chief’s five-year strategic plan on how to provide services to its diverse population with customer service as the primary objective. This development involved several inclusive community meetings led by community members, line-level officers and support staff. This is the first time the community served has had direct influence and impact on establishing its Police Department’s policing philosophy.
Like most departments across the nation, SAPD is faced with the issue of recruitment. It has an approved sworn staff of 383, with a current staffing of 322 officers, supported by 200 plus civilian members in various positions. The Department has also dedicated a newly established, fulltime sworn staff member to address recruitment efforts. Despite the vacancies, the full-time recruitment has yielded a high turnout of successful applicants to meet the staffing needs of modern policing. Additionally, every member of the Department is expected to take an active role as a recruiter.
In support of technology, and after two years of research and community outreach, SAPD successfully launched its Body Worn Camera Program in September 2017. SAPD trained 300 members and deployed 230 cameras in Field Operations to include patrol officers, gang enforcement detectives, motor officers, canine officers, and specialized field units. Over the course of the program’s first year, SAPD was the first agency to establish an Officer Involved Shooting Procedure and an Audit Procedure to support the established policy.
In the arena of training, the Department’s dedicated full-time training staff made massive improvements in the delivery of mandated perishable skills training. Historically, SAPD would take nine months to schedule and deliver perishable skills to all its members. In 2018, the Department restructured their perishable skills platform and successfully trained its entire sworn staff in just one month, including an increase of four hours of training for every officer. The four-hour increase included the use of role players focusing on improving de-escalation and identifying danger ques. Training also included domestic violence scenarios and sensitivity awareness in serving Santa Ana’s LGBTQ community.
Lastly, to boost morale, for the first time in over 30 years, in November 2018, Chief Valentin conducted a Department-wide inspection of all sworn members of every rank. This was an “all hands-on deck” inspection. The planning and preparation of this historic and meaningful event took over six months of pre-planning leading up to the inspection. This inspection single handedly took morale to an all-new high. The Santa Ana Police Department is truly leading the way as it resets its standard of excellence in service to the community! As featured on all social media platforms, you can find further information on the activities and accomplishment of the Santa Ana Police Department, with its proud like marker - #THESAPDSTANDARD.