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Globe Chief of Police: Meeting the Challenge

The Globe Police Department not only serves Globe's 7200 residents but 20K from surrounding areas that come into Globe for services and the many who drive through. Photo by LCGross

“Nothing can prepare you for Globe,” says Chief of Police, Dale Walters, a big man in charge of a big mission:

To provide security and confidence 

within our community

Through a dedicated commitment

To service, integrity and professionalism


The biggest challenge for GPD, day in and day out, is simply the number of calls. GPD responds to about 11K calls per year; slightly down during the pandemic. In the past 2 ½ years, police calls included a mass shooting downtown, 5 fatalities on the highway, deaths of infants by neglect, accidental deaths, and other significant crimes. 

GPD serves not only Globe’s 7200 residents, but 20K from surrounding areas that come into Globe for services, and the many who drive through. Chief Walters is familiar with the pace. He worked in Page, Arizona for 4-5 years, a town smaller than Globe that swells to 150K in the summer with the flow of tourists. 

“I learned a lot there,” Chief Walters says. “You really had to deal with a variety of things.”

A self-described small town guy and huge history buff, Dale Walters grew up in Flagstaff and began his career in 1990 as a Detention Officer at the Coconino County jail. He became a deputy and patrolled boats on Lake Powell. In 1995 he joined the Chandler Police Department (CPD) where he served as a Patrol Officer, Field Training Officer, Narcotics Detective and more. He was promoted to Sergeant, Lieutenant, Commander and in 2016, Assistant Chief of Police for CPD.  

With 30+ years as a law enforcement officer, his key take-aways are the importance of high standards and moral leadership, the benefits of small agency, and the importance of community partnerships for effective policing. 

When he became Chief of Police in September, 2018, he wrote down a list of the things he needed to focus on.  

“I stopped when I got to 100,” he says.

 

Establishing Best Practices

“We’re actively involved in accreditation right now,” says Chief Walters. “It is incredibly important to the city because it assures best practices.”   

The department has contracted with Edwards & Amato to help update policies and procedures and provide training on legal updates, intervention, de-escalation and mental health. 

Challenges include the cost and availability of officers to cover the shift. In an ideal structure, Chief Walters explains, the department is staffed so officers spend their time ⅓ on calls, ⅓ doing paperwork, ⅓ on training and paid time off.  

“When the pie shifts to 85% calls, 10% paperwork and 5% training and pto, the job gets significantly more stressful and unpleasant,” he says. 

In September 2020, GPD was fully staffed for the first time in 15 years with 23 full time sworn officers, 1 reserve officer, and 4 civilian personnel. Is it enough? His gut says no. 

“But I’m not going to come to you with just my gut; I want to see what it is,” says Chief Walters. “Every matrix I look at tells me we’re about 30% low.”  

Officer retention is a challenge. For the 5 years prior, GPD had a 200% turnover rate. Last year it was down to 0%. There has been some attrition since then. Chief Walters aims to fill open positions with local talent; Sargent Mike Boyd was recruited out of retirement. He hopes to restart the Explorer program and attract local youth into law enforcement. 

“The best way to police is with people who know and belong to the community,” he says. “A little empathy goes a long way.” 

 

Building Coalitions

“My entire career has been working with other organizations,” Dale remarks.

Chief Walters is currently working with a law enforcement coalition of police chiefs and county attorneys in the region, Payson to Hayden, Greenlee, San Carlos. Their goal is to pool resources for training so that they’re “all on the same page and moving in the same direction.”  

Chief Walters has engaged Globe PD in the first Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with San Carlos PD. It is the first known MOU between the two forces.

“Chief Binale is a stellar individual and has been great to work with,” says Chief Walters.

He notes strong relationships with the Sheriff and Miami PD and Jerry Jennex, Principal of Globe High School, among others. 

“It’s about having conversations. Not trying to be a silo,” he says. “We can’t survive without these partnerships and a willingness to share resources. 

Recently, Globe PD, Gila House and Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center (CVRMC) partnered to open the Copper Hills Family Advocacy Center. Adjacent to the ER, the facility provides forensic and counseling services to victims of crime and their families. 

“The partnership between the hospital and Globe PD has been phenomenal,” says Evelyn Vargus of CVRMC.

Debbie Cox is on the board of both the advocacy center and Gila House. Shes acknowledges Sargent Steve Williams and others in the effort, but says Chief Walters ‘got it rolling.’ 

“He gets it to steps 2, 3 and 4,” Debbie says, “and now our small little community has access to these services.”

 

Challenges of Mental Health.

“When it comes to public safety, both fire and police need to have quite a bit of training in mental health because we deal with it quite a bit.” says Chief Walters. 

He seeks a full-time mental health coordinator to effectively use the community’s resources to best effect. Lots of GPD calls involve drugs. Drugs and mental health are interrelated, and according to Chief Walters, the problem for local officers is that they don’t know what the underlying issues are until they are on the scene.

“It’s not one simple issue from an organizational standpoint,” Chief Walters explains. “We have to have the tools in our toolbox.”

The new Copper Hills Advocacy Center opened on May 11th which was spearheaded by the Globe PD and involved many agencies to get it off the ground. Photo by LCGross

Communication between community resources like Community Bridges and the hospital have improved. The city is investing in mental health awareness, de-escalation and decision-making training for officers; it was shut down due to Covid last year. 

Chief Walters would like to see more officers on the street. Police officers spend most of their time with only 2-3% of the community they serve, he notes, yet knowing your community is incredibly beneficial.

“You can’t train for it,” he says. “You only get it through longevity.”

The Man on the Job

“Globe has a remarkable history,” remarks Dale Walters. “People here haven’t changed.” 

Dale discovered Globe’s true beauty when his teacher/coach wife of more than 30 years encouraged him to come see the view from the track near Copper Rim. They’re building a home a few miles out of town. 

Chief Walters. Courtesy Photo

In his office, walls are adorned with photos of calvary men and century-old Globe, medallions in display cases. Shelves hold wooden animals, police caps and awards of every sort. There’s a copper tree from Pickle Barrel and a hunk of silver ore. The furniture is rich dark wood and black leather. The chief bought it himself. 

“I think it’s important to have a professional atmosphere,” he says.

A new fleet of pursuit-rated SUVs has been acquired for the force. First floor offices have been renovated. The mission statement looms large in each. There are no holding cells at the police station. Anyone arrested in Globe is booked into the county jail. Downstairs, what was once a “drunk tank” will be converted into an employee lounge. 

“I’ll keep these bars,” says the chief, “they’re historic.”

Chief Walters speaks in serious tones with clarity and openness. He pulls back only when questioned about a lawsuit currently pending against the city charging undue force against a mentally ill woman, still pending.

“The policy is to deal with any individual that we come in contact with with minimal force,” states Chief Walters. “If they present a threat, the officers will respond to the threat. They will do it as cautiously as they can. It doesn’t change whether you have mental health or anger management issues, the police officers are going to respond.” 

Dale Walters, an avid hunter, has never fired his gun on the job. He has come “terrifyingly close.” He has seen children die and colleagues killed in the line of duty. He has made the arrest of a fellow police officer. Daily images of protests and police brutality “take a toll” on him and others in the profession. Applications for open positions are down. 

“It’s a stressful job and people make mistakes” says Chief Walters, “but many lives have been saved by police that never get mentioned.”

The bookshelves of Walter’s office reflects his life of service in policing. Photo by Patti Daley.

GPD does get some support on their Facebook page and there is rarely a day when somebody doesn’t secretly pay for the chief’s lunch. 

“There is some demonizing of people who show support for law enforcement,” he notes. “At some point it will swing back the other way and there will be some realistic measures taken.” 

He agrees police reform is needed, even in Arizona, but has his own ideas about what that means. Budgetary constraints, he says, causes cities and municipalities to lower their expectations about who they hire and how they operate.

“It should be a requirement for a police department to have to maintain certain standards,” says Chief Walters, “for police chiefs to have a certain level of experience and education.”

Debbie Cox, 15-year Globe resident, has known five police chiefs in her time here. Owner of Service First Realty, she manages 190 rentals in the area and is proactive about keeping track of crime. 

“It’s important to me,” she says. “It affects our business, and I live here.” 

Debbie and the chief meet monthly to discuss what’s going on in the community. The two share a good rapport and healthy respect. She appreciates his serious approach, productive action and the improvements in policing consistency and officer attitude. 

“He is responsive, and he is realistic about what we can do” says Debbie, “but we have to do this together, as a community, with the police force.”  

 

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