Thursday, September 11, 2008

Exclusive Q&A With Ojai's New Police Chief

Outgoing Capt. Bruce Norris, left, welcomes Ojai's new top cop, Capt. Chris Dunn

By Lenny Roberts
Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Dunn will officially begin his tenure as Ojai’s police chief Monday, Sept. 22. He is a 20-veteran law enforcement officer and Camarillo resident hand-picked by Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks to replace the outgoing chief, Bruce Norris.
Norris has managed the Ojai Sheriff’s substation and Ojai Police Department since being appointed to replace Gary Pentis in March 2005.
We provided the questions addressing some key issues, and Dunn provided the following responses:

Q. As you know, yearly crime statistics can be misleading in small communities. What do you see as the major crime issue in the Ojai Valley and how do you intend to address it? What are other issues of importance?
A. While the most recent crime statistics show the lowest crime rate in the Ojai Valley area in years, I understand that there are still areas of criminal activity that need to be and in most cases are being addressed.
One in particular, is the on-going gang activity. Gangs and the criminal acts they conduct affect everyone in the community. The gang-associated violence, graffiti, and intimidation affect every resident, business owner, and visitor. To address this issue, the Sheriff’s Department has taken a very aggressive approach to identifying and tracking gang members and arresting those responsible for committing crimes. To that end, the Ojai Station has deputies assigned to track and investigate gang related crimes. In addition, the Sheriff’s Gang Unit has and will continue to assist and, in some cases, spearhead investigations and arrest gang members in our community.
Recently another area of concern has been a spike in thefts from vehicles. Ojai station deputies and detectives are actively investigating these thefts and attempting to identify the perpetrators. We ask that residents be vigilant in reporting suspicious individuals in the areas around their homes and business. I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that it is extremely important to remove all valuable property and lock your vehicles even if you are only going to be away from your vehicle for a short period of time. These thieves tend to be opportunists and are looking for vehicles people leave unlocked while unoccupied.


Q. The conception or misconception is that Ojai serves the county as a disproportional training ground for rookie deputies, and those deputies may be more aggressive when they actually go on patrol after serving long periods of time in the custody division. What are you thoughts?
A. This is a misconception. The Sheriff’s Department, like most other law enforcement agencies, is seeing an increase in the attrition rates of senior personnel. The Ojai Station has indeed seen an increase in the number of trainees, however, the increase in trainees has been department wide. The Ojai Station still has a very capable and well-experienced cadre of senior personnel. The time deputies have spent in detention services has and will continue to provide the Sheriff’s Department and the contract cities we serve, with mature and well-seasoned deputies. These deputies are very attuned to the criminal mindset. As far as being more aggressive, I have not seen or heard of any issues with long assignments in detention services leading to a more aggressive patrol deputy.

Q. Do you plan any immediate or long-term changes in personnel or the daily operation of the substation?
A. I do not plan any immediate changes in personnel at the Ojai Station. It is too premature to comment on any possible long-term changes.


Q. What additional resources would you like to see in Ojai?
A. As with any public administrator, I can always find benefits in additional staffing and resources. As a realist, I understand that there has to be a balance between budgetary issues and the needs of the communities we serve. We will always strive to provide the best service possible with the resources we have. Any requests for additional resources will be brought to the attention of the city manager and city council.

Q. Is it an advantage in a small community for the citizens to know and trust law enforcement officers who they frequently see or is it natural for deputies to have a tendency to become complacent after long-term service here?
A. Certainly there are benefits to knowing and becoming comfortable with deputies. The increase in communications between deputies, residents, and business owners has great benefits. We, as a department, strive to provide the communities we serve with quality law enforcement services and endeavor to earn the trust of the citizens of the county. As with any employer, we have a wide variety of employees with varying personalities. Some deputies do very well working in one area for long periods of time, while others find a periodic change of assignment more satisfying. It is our responsibility to ensure that the deputies assigned to a specific station do not become complacent and that they continue to provide quality service to the community.

Q. How important is community-based policing in Ojai?
A. It is extremely important. I would like to see a marked increase in the interactions between the deputies and the communities they serve. Other station personnel and I will be looking into several ways to increase our contact and cooperation with the community residents and business members. It is my intention to increase the community’s involvement in problem solving and their awareness of the law enforcement issues in their areas.

Q. How are you preparing to manage law enforcement in Ojai after never being assigned here as a deputy?
A. I have and will continue to communicate with Capt. Norris and other members of the department who currently work at the station or have worked at the station in the past. In addition, I have met with the city manager and other members of the community.

Q. Is there a message that you would like to convey to the people of the Ojai Valley?
A. I am very proud to have been appointed to serve the city of Ojai and the communities of the Ojai Valley. I will work very hard to ensure that they receive quality service from the Sheriff’s Department. I look forward to becoming a part of the community.

12 comments:

John Crowley said...

Thank you, Chief Norris, for your service. And welcome, Chief Dunn.

live free or die said...

wow sweet questions. what about the police state we are living under?why are police innocent until proven guilty and we are guilty till proven innocent?do you acualy plan to do anything about our cops not obaying the laws they enforce?

Anonymous said...

simple things, like stopping for people in crosswalks would be nice

Lisa Snider said...

Welcome to Ojai, Chief Dunn!

Anonymous said...

Live free or die, Why does every post you make try and convince the community that the sky is falling? Does every post you make have to tell of impending doom? What does your current babble have to do with a new police chief in Ojai? Can you not see the emperor’s new clothes? Be informed all you want to, or feel you need to be, but sometimes that cigar in your dreams, is just a cigar.

live free or die said...

So cops are all law abiding? Darn my eyes are lying again? stupid me. Just live like you are told and don't ask any questions(don't upset the heard)! You are doing a service to the community too! What color is the bottom of the sand pit you keep your head in? you have no counter point no proof all i am saying is to be aware you are saying shut up let me live in ignorance peace full ignorance. What sky you really don't see the cops in excess of 50+mph in a 25 for no reason to go park or to make a withdraw from the bank. As anon.sep.13 3:11pm said or is the sky falling in his/her world too? I am not saying all cops are bad or all cops are good I just want to ask real questions.

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of mindless "question authority" tripe that tries to make it about individualism and thinking for one's self. But it usually boils down to asserting the right to be a bully or jerk.

We all know the laws. When we get pulled over, we know why. Whether the cop speeds or not has nothing to do with you and how you behave in society. The people that complain about "too many police" are not living their life right. 99% of us never have contact with the police, and appreciate their presence (a deterrent) and service.

live free or die said...

Time will tell. enjoy the camps you never questioned. mindless law obedience is just as dangerous. would you jump off a cliff if a law said so??? "But it usually boils down to asserting the right to be a bully or jerk." like you are doing now? who am i bulling? you?
open mind is all no one is perfect badge or not

Anonymous said...

I hav lived in Ojai for 13 years and have intereacted with the police maybe 3 times. I have never had a bad experience with the local police. I appreciate their presence.

Anonymous said...

Live free or die, since you are an admittedly uneducated person who wants to correct other peoples' spelling and grammar in a open forum as it seems to make you feel intelligent, FYI heard is past tense of hear, or to hear, e.g I heard you make a total ass of yourself, herd on the other hand is the correct term in reference to a “herd of animals”. A little but of knowledge in the wrong hands can be dangerous; watch out there is another piece of falling sky coming at your silly little head. Why don’t you use your spare time (which you seem to have a lot of) to become educated and enlightened rather than a pseudo-fear monger.

live free or die said...

Anonymous said...
I hav lived in Ojai for 13 years and have intereacted with the police maybe 3 times. I have never had a bad experience with the local police. I appreciate their presence.

September 16, 2008 6:01 AM
good for you i have been here for 22yrs and have a different oppinion i must be a "bad guy"

live free or die said...

Anonymous said...
Live free or die, since you are an admittedly uneducated person {WTF} who wants to correct other peoples' spelling and grammar in a open forum as it seems to make you feel intelligent,{YGTBFKM} FYI heard is past tense of hear, or to hear, e.g I heard you make a total ass of yourself, herd on the other hand is the correct term in reference to a “herd of animals”.{NS} A little but of knowledge in the wrong hands can be dangerous; watch out there is another piece of falling sky coming at your silly little head.{FO} Why don’t you use your spare time (which you seem to have a lot of) to become educated and enlightened rather than a pseudo-fear monger.{SMB}
:(September 16, 2008 11:53 AM:(
:)I knew it I am surrounded by:) a$$h**s!!!! I do strive to to be a disrespectful arrogant a$$H0** like yourself any more great pointers? Only if what I say scares you am I a fear monger after all if I were not here who else would you be bitc$ing out??? The north American union(Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America March 23, 2005)
is drawn up now a done deal don't believe me!! look it up yourself and you cannot ignore what you find.