Approachable and Community Oriented
Being an approachable, open, community-oriented department is a point of pride for Chesterfield Police.
“We work hard through several different avenues to reach the most people in a positive way while still maintaining focus on public safety,” Captain Steven Lewis said.
The department had humble beginnings, starting in 1988 (just after the city’s incorporation) with only 50 sworn officers. Today, Chesterfield Police – based at 690 Chesterfield Parkway West – has “grown to be a leader both regionally and nationally in its policing efforts– with current authorized strength at 92 sworn officers, making it the largest municipal police department in St. Louis County,” Captain Lewis said.
The department boasts CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) accreditation.
Police Chief Ray Johnson originally led the department in its effort to adhere to internationally set standards of practice for policing. The agency has agreed to follow the 484 standards set by CALEA and opened the department to a rigorous onsite inspection process every three years, since entering the process in late 2000.
In 2002, the police department had its initial onsite inspection by a team of assessors; in 2015, it received its fourth re-accreditation which involved having a third perfect onsite inspection, “a rarity by all standards,” Lewis said.
Every day calls for service are handled by the division of patrol.
“If you call asking for police, the officers assigned to the Patrol Division will be the first to respond,” Lewis said. “They handle everything from a dog barking at three in the morning to speeding vehicles to a car getting broken into. Our officers constantly receive training above and beyond what is required by the state of Missouri. They are not only trained in technical law enforcement subjects, but also in how to create fair, positive, respectful interactions with the citizens they have contact with.”
That training for officers includes, among other things, Fair and Impartial Policing, CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) for mental health issues and dealing with subjects who are hearing impaired.
Any case that needs follow-up investigation is forwarded to the detective bureau.
Detectives have specialized training in investigative work along with the other training listed above, Lewis said.
All of the detectives also are part of the St Louis area Major Case Squad, a pool of detectives who are called together to investigate serious crimes (usually homicides) which may have occurred in a participating municipality that would not otherwise have the manpower to perform effectively on their own.
Service to the community involves helping those of all ages, Lewis said. Safety Town is a nationally-recognized preschool safety program which teaches children, ages four to six, about a wide variety of safety issues including bicycle safety, water safety, school bus safety and stranger danger. The program includes classroom activities as well as outside hands-on activities in a miniature Safety Town city.
“This is one of most popular programs with the citizens,” Lewis said.
In addition to commissioned police officers, the Safety Town staff includes teen counselors from area middle and senior high schools who assist the police officers in leading the program. There are two-week sessions coming up this year, running through July 22. There is a morning and afternoon class for each session.
The department also has a total of eight school resource officer that serve every educational institution in the city of Chesterfield.
“We have an officer assigned to each of the high schools and middle schools that operate in the Parkway School District and have four elementary school resource officers who divide their time equally amongst the 11 other schools – Rockwood District, Parkway and private – within the city of Chesterfield,” Lewis said. “We provide very proactive policing in all of our schools and are received very well by the individual school districts and private entities.”
The police department offers a Citizen Police Academy for regular folks who have wondered what it is like to be a police officer. The academy allows participants to learn about various areas of the police operation including patrol procedures, traffic and DWI enforcement, crime scene investigation and criminal investigations.
“It gives the citizens a base of knowledge in understanding the ‘why’s” and “how’s’ of police work,” Lewis said. The next class begins Sept. 6, offering one class per week from 7pm to 9pm, for eight weeks.
The department understands the importance and usefulness of social media, which can be used to quickly get important information to the public, like an area-wide boil order or for getting the public’s help in solving a crime and identifying unknown suspects.
“It can also serve as a window for the public to see what their police department is doing and provides another avenue of communication between the public and the department,” Lewis said.
Another way for the department to better serve residents, especially in the various neighborhoods, is the COPPS (Community-Oriented Policing and Problem-Solving) unit.
“One of the primary responsibilities is to gather data from a great variety of sources and attempt to keep track of reoccurring neighborhood issues,” Lewis said. “The COPPS officers then work with the residents in an attempt to resolve the problem or issue.”
The recommended solution may include police intervention, or it may involve contact with or referrals to other agencies such as the city’s planning and zoning department or street department or to outside agencies.
“The Chesterfield Police Department is full of wonderful officers dedicated to public service,” Lewis said. “The job can be difficult and the standard is high. The public expects their department to be run in a professional manner and its officers to be the best trained and equipped. The entire department takes pride accepting this challenge and being an organization their citizens can take pride in, too.”