I often tell our officers that we do our job not only for the citizens of Victoria but for ourselves and our own families. We are members of this community, and we want our families to live in a safe city where police officers and community members work together to reduce crime and the fear of crime.
My predecessor, J.J. Craig, left excellent policies in place that help to accomplish this goal. As communities around the nation have tough conversations about police reform, we’ve consistently found that our department meets and exceeds high standards for public service. This commitment is reflected in our recognition by the Texas Police Chiefs Association, which honors agencies that comply with 166 best practices designed to facilitate effective service, reduce risk and protect the rights of citizens.
The Victoria Police Department is one of only a handful of agencies statewide to receive this gold-standard recognition for three consecutive four-year terms. This strong foundation has allowed me to focus on finding creative ways to improve our department and our community’s safety even further.
I’ve always had a passion for crime reduction, and data is an important tool in this area. VPD uses statistics to predict when and where certain types of crimes are likely to happen so that we can address the causes. I hope to continue identifying data we can provide to our officers to help them prevent predictable crimes like vehicle burglaries, which in turn will free up resources to address assaults and other types of crimes that are harder to predict.
Community engagement is another important component of crime reduction. We’re working to expand our use of social media to educate the public about simple steps that they can take to protect themselves and others from becoming victims, such as locking cars and hiding valuables to prevent theft. We also recently hosted a meeting with local faith leaders to provide important safety information that they can share with their communities, and we hope to host such meetings regularly going forward.
We’re working to launch a new program called Volunteers In Patrol (VIP) that will empower residents to prevent crime in their communities. Residents will receive training to learn about crime prevention and identifying suspicious activity; then, they will connect with their neighbors to patrol their communities and educate residents about how to protect themselves from crime. Expect to hear more about this program in the coming months.
Another one of my goals is to increase officer retention. The City of Victoria has demonstrated a commitment to investing in officers; as an example, the City Council approved a pay increase for first responders during the last budget cycle. However, I can tell you from experience that officers are inspired to stay with their departments for other reasons besides money. Senior officers often seek advancement opportunities, which is why I plan to create more opportunities in our department for officers to work in specialized roles that interest them.
In addition, officers need to know they’re loved and supported. I make it a point to check in on our officers and let them know they have a support system to protect their well-being and mental health. I also take every opportunity to let our community know about the important work our officers are doing and how much we appreciate and value our community’s support.
I’m very excited to be here, and I feel blessed to have the support of such a great community. All of us at the Victoria Police Department want to protect the community we love, and we’re determined to work diligently and put our best foot forward to make that happen.
Roberto Arredondo is the police chief for the City of Victoria Police Department.