FARMINGTON — Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe, who started work on Monday, says new hires and promotions will give his department a different look.
The new chief is still meeting with officers and getting feedback about the status of Farmington's police force, he said in an interview Tuesday.
Hebbe was previously a deputy chief for the Anchorage Police Department in Alaska, where he worked for more than 20 years. He was sworn in as Farmington's police chief at a city council meeting on Tuesday night.
Hebbe said one of the first challenges he'll face is staffing.
Farmington police have 131 authorized positions. Six months ago, the department only had 113 certified officers on staff, according to city records.
On Tuesday, three officers who recently graduated from a police academy started work. Hebbe said seven officers are in the police academy.
"We're trying to spit out some new recruits, so we're going to be a young department. That comes with its own challenges," Hebbe said. "We'll be focusing with our supervisors this week on making sure we are working with our younger officers to make sure we're on policy and we're not making mistakes."
Hebbe said it's likely several high-ranking officers will leave the department soon, in part because of retirement packages for public employees. He said that will lead to younger officers being promoted to higher ranks.
Hebbe said Farmington police have a strong early intervention program, which he will prioritize. It is an internal program that aims to highlight small problems by officers — such as problems driving or writing reports — and works to address those problems before they become bigger issues.
Hebbe said he'll also work to determine if all police supervisors are as knowledgable as they need to be in internal affairs matters. In Anchorage, he rotated his supervisors through the department.
"That is the thing I'm going to be looking at: What is the breath of understanding of (internal affairs) issues?" Hebbe said. "What I was trying to do in Anchorage was get a greater understanding among all supervisors about the things we were seeing in internal affairs. The types of problems we had, the types of things that get us sued, the types of new policies and training that we could be looking at."Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.