Teague talks about police changes at WKNA meeting

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Keizer police chief speaks at the Jan. 9 West Keizer Neighborhood Association (WKNA) meeting.

Keizer police chief speaks at the Jan. 9 West Keizer Neighborhood Association (WKNA) meeting.

By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes

John Teague acknowledges his message is different.

Teague, who took over as Keizer’s police chief from the retired Marc Adams last September, shared his vision of policing at a West Keizer Neighborhood Association (WKNA) meeting Jan. 9 at Keizer Civic Center.

Teague talked about changes he is making at the Keizer Police Department, some of which were outlined in a Keizertimes profile piece last October. After Teague spoke – concluding with a mention of a community survey to assess how the KPD is doing – he fielded audience questions.

One question came from former Keizer City Councilor David McKane, who has been largely out of the public eye since an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2012. McKane, who sat next to fellow former councilor Ken LeDuc, indicated he came to hear the new police chief speak.

“So your performance is based on how we feel as a community,” McKane said. “That’s refreshing to hear. For years it was about how many officers we have in Keizer.”

Teague responded he would like a few more resources, but that won’t be his emphasis.

“You won’t hear it from me,” the chief said. “I would like to have another detective. If we want to patrol more aggressively, I would like two more officers for patrols. We don’t solve crimes as well as we could. We just don’t have the capacity in-house to do it. For years, I heard we need 16 more bodies. Really, we need one or three more.”

Teague pointed to Andrew Copeland serving as patrol lieutenant as one example of the changes he is making.

“I don’t want him spending his time managing guys,” Teague said. “I want him to identify problems and use resources to solve them. There’s a team that is available to him. That reduces the cost of crime to us, and to you.”

A former longtime sergeant before spending four years as the police chief in Dallas, Teague noted changes in policing – both over the years and since coming back to Keizer.

“You really are safe,” Teague told the two dozen audience members. “You’re safer now than 40 years ago. It doesn’t always feel that way. But the numbers tell that and the numbers we get today are good numbers. The numbers are getting more accurate.

“Police work is becoming a profession,” he added. “In the days before an officer was hired on Friday, showed up on Monday and got the gun and keys. Now officers have four months of training and then 16 to 18 weeks of training on the street.”

Teague said evidence-based policing looks at what officers do and helps them be better.

“It excites me that we can do what we do better,” he said. “The reason it’s good for you and for Keizer cops is we have an astute bunch that works for us. When I arrived, they were looking for something more deeply satisfying. We quickly got to the point where we begin to look beyond a crime and solve the problem behind the crime. That helps prevent crime from happening. We reduce the cost of incarceration and the cost to victims. It can reduce your opportunities for victimization.

“I like the idea of doing something that really makes people’s lives better, including the lives of those who would have otherwise committed a crime,” Teague added. “There is not a set number of criminals set to do a number of crimes. We can prevent (crimes) from happening. About half the time they won’t happen anywhere else. That’s what evidence-based policing tells us.”

According to Teague, youth in trouble with the law and put into the criminal system “almost invariably” get into more trouble down the road. He prefers stopping that cycle before it starts.

“Peer Court, hands down, works,” he said of the city’s system that features Thursday afternoon youth court sessions with peers. “Those kinds of things must remain funded. It’s money well spent. We’re not pointing a kid towards a road that is bad.”

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