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1/20/2014 8:26:00 AM
Chief says technology works... but not always
Prescott Valley Police Chief Bryan Jarrell has mixed feelings about the advent of technology in police work. He maintains that traffic stops put officers in contact with people, enabling them to better judge situations.
Trib Photo/Briana Lonas
Prescott Valley Police Chief Bryan Jarrell has mixed feelings about the advent of technology in police work. He maintains that traffic stops put officers in contact with people, enabling them to better judge situations.
Trib Photo/Briana Lonas

Scott Orr
Special to the Tribune

Call him old school.

New Prescott Valley Police Chief Bryan A. Jarrell has been in law enforcement since 1985, so he's seen first-hand how what we now call "old-school" policing works.

And while he'll use technology, he wants to make sure it creates less work, not more.

"It's supposed to make life easier, and it doesn't always happen that way," he said.

He points to computers in police cars. "When I was a police officer, we hand-wrote our reports. Well, I can hand-write a report sitting in the parking lot in my car... or at your dining room table," he said.

But slow connections to in-car computers often encourages officers to write their reports at the station, which has faster computers, he continued. "The entire time this is happening... they're off the streets. That's not a good consequence of technology," he said.

Jarrell wants to combine what works now with what worked then and have officers use "an iPad or a notebook" to write reports at the scene, then send them back to the station later.

He's not opposed to technology that enhances what police do on a daily basis, and wants to add on-officer video cameras. "What a valuable tool that would be," he said, noting that in-car dash cameras are common, but "99 percent of what we do isn't in front of our cars."

Jarrell is ambivalent about traffic cameras. While he said they're great tools that can act as force multiplier, he's not certain they're the best way to get the job done.

"I'm neutral on that (controversy)," he said. "I can see either side of it. Is that one way (to make intersections safer?) Yes. Is it the most effective way? I don't know."

If the choice was his, he said, "I would say, 'If you're not going to do cameras, then I need additional staff. That gives me what I would prefer, which is the one-on-one contact and interaction with the community."

Traffic stops, Jarrell said, do more than cameras can do.

He told the story of one community that "had a picture of a homicide suspect on a (traffic) camera going through an intersection. Now, I'm not really quite sure what good that does for a police department.

"I'd much rather have police officers doing those kinds of things," he said. "Stopping those cars, finding the drugs, finding the people wanted on warrants." While the officers were doing those things during the time of traffic cameras in Prescott Valley, there is a greater likelihood of making that contact with more police making stops.

That traditional attitude goes deeper than his views on technology. Uniforms, for example, concern him because of what they signify to the public.

"I have said that for years," he said. "I personally am against the move from the old-school, 'Class A,' real crisp-looking police officer to what looks like a stormtrooper."

He'd like to see a return to the older style of uniform, as long as officer safety is not compromised.

Jarrell said that he believes that when the police arrive at a scene, "they should command respect, as opposed to fear."

Related Stories:
• Jarrell sworn in as Prescott Valley Police Chief

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Article comment by: Been There

With 30 years plus of L.E. experience, I concur with Chief Jarrell's philosophy. First impressions say a lot of an agency. Traffic stops encompass the majority of police/citizen contacts in any city in this country. While public attitude and acceptance is changing in today's world, a well dressed, cleanly uniformed officer, commands respect and displays pride and professionalism. Contrarily, contact with an officer wearing a wrinkled, poorly fitting BDU, boots with a baseball cap and every tool imaginable hanging from the waist or strapped to his/her leg makes public contacts even more negative.
Another even more commendable approach is officer accountability in their field. Many issues this department has experienced are the direct result of no enforced accountability. The public knows what will happen if they violate an unaccepted act via citation or arrest. Each officer must understand likewise if they fail to perform their assigned duties or act in opposition to department policy or law.

Posted: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Montague

I am a recently retired Police Officer (Admin) from a Department near Los Angels. I applaud Chief Jarrell and his view on "Old School Policing". One thing that did work, (and I taught several classes) is Community based Policing. When an Officer gets out of the patrol car and walks the neighborhood and does what we call a "Meet and Greet," he has a better understanding of what's going on in his/hers beat and allows the public to interact with their local Police. 30 minutes a day, radio calls permitting. I would tell our patrol team, when you get a radio call, that's Reactive, when you don't get the radio call because you know what's going on in your beat and handled an issue prior, that's Proactive. Also known as "Old School Police Work" Chief Jarrell's comments are fresh ideas with traditional values and years of experience.

Posted: Monday, January 20, 2014
Article comment by: Steve Bolander

As a retired police officer myself, it's very refreshing to know that not all police administrators are leaning toward the latest trend of technology-driven law enforcement. So, I wholeheartedly applaud Chief Jarrell's philosophy.

Effective police work should always depend upon a more personal approach where an officer is appreciated as a fellow member of he community rather than an aspiring "RoboCop" (or as Chief Jarrell calls them, "stormtroopers").

Anyway, kudos to our new chief for implementing and realizing the importance of "old school."

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