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Police Chief focuses on stability and strong partnerships

The Globe Police Department. Photo by LCGross

Globe Police Chief Dale Walters is quietly celebrating his five-year anniversary as head of the Globe Police Department, bringing stability to an organization that suffered for years due to understaffing, employee turnover and public distrust prior to his arrival in 2018.

In response to public comments made to City Council earlier in the month, Walters provided an update at the July 26 meeting, addressing the challenges associated with traditional data collection methods that might work for urban areas, but do not paint a complete picture of the challenges faced by rural departments.

In his presentation, titled, “Is Globe safe? You decide,” Walters also responded to reports claiming Globe has the third-highest crime rate in the state.

The reported crime rates were calculated at a ratio of crimes per 1,000 residents, but Walters explained that can be misleading, since in addition to the Globe’s population of about 7,800 residents, the Globe Police Department is one of the main law enforcement agencies located at a crossroads that sees tens of thousands of travelers pass through every month.

Globe is also a “retail hub,” the only place for rural residents throughout the Copper Corridor to purchase goods and services outside of a long trip to the Valley. That population includes San Carlos, Roosevelt, Tonto, and El Capitan, among many other small communities, who come to Globe to shop, eat, seek medical care, access services, pay bills, conduct business at the Gila County offices or visit family members.

According to Walters, the “service population” for his department is “at a bare minimum” 24,000 to 26,000,” but given the amount of traffic on major throughways such as State Route 60, SR 188 and SR 77, the department serves a much larger population of up to 36,000 annually.

“You have to take into consideration we are the only retail hub for 85 miles in any direction,” Walters says. “If you’re down in the Valley and have to go to Safford or Show Low or Payson you depend on us. If you want to go to Tucson, you’re coming through here, and a lot of people going up to Roosevelt from the Valley will come this way.”

Bringing stability and community to GPD

Globe Police Chief Walters. Courtesy Photo

In the months prior to Walters’ arrival, the City went through several interim chiefs—at least three in the first half of 2018 and four total from 2014 to 2018—and had a bad reputation for unacceptable behavior in its ranks and neglect of basic duties such as investigating criminal cases in the community.

But from the moment Walters took over the position, it was clear he was in it for the long-haul.

A third-generation Arizonan from Flagstaff, Walters was assistant police chief in Chandler. He brought 28 years of law enforcement experience and beat out three other candidates for the position.

“Dale is doing a fantastic job and is one of the best hires we’ve made,” says Vice Mayor Mike Stapleton. “He’s increased the number of officers and is doing a phenomenal job. We could not ask for more.”

Stapleton, who in addition to his years serving on council owns the Copper Hen restaurant across from the fire and police department buildings, has a front-row seat to the changes both from his council seat and the streets of downtown Globe.

In the past five years, he has seen more community participation from Walters and his officers, as well as better communication from the department.

“Dale is doing a fantastic job and is one of the best hires we’ve made,” says Vice Mayor Mike Stapleton, owner of the Copper Hen which sits just across the street from the Police Department.

Increased staffing, higher visibility

The GPD has a budget of nearly $4.5 million for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, up from about $3 million when Walters first arrived. The increase is due in large part to increased staffing that has been critical to creating a stable department.

“The staffing model they had was inaccurate for the size of our service population, so we’ve worked diligently to improve conditions at the police department,” Walters says. “If it were not for the goals of the City Council, the City Manager, and City leadership, we would not be where we are today. They have been incredibly supportive. Through hard work and forward focus, we are developing an organization that is going to be sustainable for some time to come.”

The department now has five detectives, including three full-time and two task force members. Additionally, when Walters started in 2018, the force had fourteen officers, with five additional positions unfilled. Through aggressive recruiting and retention efforts, the City maintains a 30-plus-sworn staff.

In addition to overseeing a complete overhaul of the police facility downtown, Walters has worked to upgrade equipment throughout the department and has identified and captured funding from outside sources to enhance the process. So far, he estimates GPD has received about $1 million in grant funding.

He has worked with local school districts to provide school resource officers (SROs) for every Globe School campus and created partnerships with the State Department of Public Services and the Gila County Sheriff’s Office to fill critical positions, including detectives and investigators.

GPD has partnered with other agencies for training and is working to create a police academy to grow more local officers and administrators with direct links to the community. Walters estimates that about 70% of his force has some connection to the Copper Corridor.

Walters has also secured funding through the Department of Homeland Security to update communications systems to be on par with other law enforcement and fire agencies throughout the region.

“We had to update everything: There wasn’t an aspect that didn’t need work, it didn’t matter if it was the police department itself, the quality of the personnel that we had, the equipment that we had property and evidence, investigations, all our vehicles and our equipment,” Walters says. “Everything had to be updated.”

Taking a long view of his role as chief, Walters has also created a succession plan for the day when he eventually retires to the property he owns in Gila County and has created a plan for growth that goes together with the City’s long-term goals.

Given the limitations on available funding, Walters has had to take a phased approach to rebuilding the department, but as his goals reflect the goals of City Council, he has been able make progress with each passing year.

Higher profile and community involvement

Another hallmark of Walters’ tenure has been increased visibility in the community.

“I was shocked to see that the police department wasn’t heavily involved with the Christmas Light Parade, Halloween and all the other downtown events,” he says. “That’s common sense to me. We should be absolutely involved and as far as I’m concerned, it’s all hands on deck for the police department. We want it to go off without a hitch and all pull together.”

Additionally, the department has increased its presence to include more business checks, traffic stops and patrols.

Walters reported that GPD did 23 business checks last year, but in the first six months of this year, that number increased to 196. Traffic stops have risen from 2,100 per year five years ago to 3,000 just in the first six months of this year.

Regarding burglaries, Walters said in 2017, there were 160 burglaries, which was a high point. As a result, burglaries were reduced to forty-six last year. So far in 2023, there have been only twenty-two. He added that given the transient populations in the service area, much of the crime can be attributed to non-residents.

Numbers aside, Walters has intentionally raised his profile in the community by getting out in the streets and participating in local organizations intended to improve lives throughout the Copper Corridor.

“He hits the streets himself and doesn’t just sit behind his desk,” Stapleton says. “His officers like him and he’s turned morale around. Before, there was low morale, but the department is coming together, and he shares the same vision as the Council. Communications are good and his door is always open.”

Walters has even managed to impress community members who have previously been critical of GPD and by extension the City.

Local realtor and property manager Debbie Cox has interacted with the department quite a bit over the course of over a decade in Globe, due in part to the location of her office on East Ash Street and the 180 rental units her office manages that are mostly within Globe’s city limit.

Cox also serves with Walters on the GILA House board, which she says gives him added insight to community challenges.

“He’s treating the community with respect and that’s something we haven’t seen in a long time,” Cox says. “He’s giving his officers proper training and is very community oriented. He established the Copper Hills Family Advocacy Center and is serving on the Gila House board. Everything he’s doing is going in the right direction.”

She adds that Walters is exceptionally good at explaining his decisions when necessary and is “instilling pride in the community” for his officers.

“Some of the officers were downtrodden for so long and they didn’t even want to be here and felt they were not getting support,” she says. “He’s a serious-minded person; he does his research, and I’m a big fan.”

Under the leadership of Chief Walters, the Globe Police Department has focused on working with community members to provide a safe, healthy, and vibrant environment for residents and visitors alike. When the statistics are seen in context, it is clear the department has made great strides in the past five years towards becoming a stronger and sustainable model.

Debbie Cox, Branch Manager of Service First Realty, has been impressed with Walters’ leadership of the GPD. Photo by David Abbott

About David Abbott

Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.

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