The Dade City Police Department has finalized its four-year strategic plan — running through 2025 — designed to guide the agency through a wave of growth and development within the East Pasco municipality.
The 21-page report — condensed into a PowerPoint — was presented in detail by Dr. James Sewell, a former assistant commissioner for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), during a Dec. 14 Dade City Commission meeting.
Sewell, of St. Petersburg, is known for helping law enforcement agencies in charting a road map for their future through the creation and implementation of their strategic plans.
He contracted with the Dade City Police Department to articulate the department’s vision, mission and values.
The strategic plan process, led by Sewell, included collaborative working groups, involving Dade City Police staff as well as residents, educators, business professionals, nonprofits, retirees and other stakeholders.
Sewell explained the broad strokes of the department’s vision to commissioners.
He said it seeks to foster “a community and a police department that work together.”
The department also wants to ensure that Dade City is “a safe place to live, work and visit,” Sewell said.
“The vision of the police department is to protect you — real simple,” the law enforcement expert said.
His experience includes serving as chief of the Gulfport Police Department from 1986-1990 and then later leading the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute.
He said the Dade City department must base its actions on these fundamental values:
- Respect for the community and the people it serves
- Integrity of the organization and the individuals within it
- Professionalism among employees and their conduct
- Service to the community
The department’s plan over the next four years encompasses four primary goals, tied together by 17 “action-focused” strategies and 91 objectives.
These four general goals are:
- To maintain a safe community through effective enforcement, education, and citizen involvement
- To provide a professional work environment that attracts and retains diverse, qualified personnel, recognizes employee excellence, and promotes leadership through education and training
- To ensure agency and individual accountability by effective and efficient use of equipment, facilities and technology
- To ensure the department keeps pace with the needs of the city brought on by increases in residential population, households served and commercial growth
A key finding that emerged during the planning exercise involves the need to maintain and enhance positive relationships and outreach programs for local youth, Sewell said.
He explained, “Where we see problems oftentimes in communities is with young people, who don’t perhaps respect the values and activities of the police, as adults do, so we want to make sure we’re doing some stuff with those youth.”
Accreditation through the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation (CFA) is another notable priority for the department and concerned citizenry: “That becomes your standard by which agencies are measured, and we believe that it’s time. If you look at an effective hospital or school system, they are accredited by some professional body,” Sewell said.
He commended Dade City decisionmakers for investing in the department, including equipment, facilities and technology upgrades, as well as a take-home car program.
“You’ve got a great department and great leadership, and as I’ve found, from the work during the summer — a great group of citizens who want to be involved,” Sewell said.
Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez expressed appreciation to Sewell for his work and for the involvement of concerned citizens who took part in the process.
She lauded the law enforcement agency’s “excellent leadership and wonderful men and women.
“We are very, very proud of them, and are forever grateful, especially during these kinds of unprecedented times all over,” the mayor said.
She also underscored the importance of the department completing the forward-looking plan, given “so many things happening” within the city limits concerning growth and development.
She said she hopes that moving forward the city will continue to provide support and resources needed to help the Dade City Police Department to do a good job — and to keep both law enforcement and the citizens they serve, safe.
Much discussion in recent months has surrounded how the law enforcement agency will manage the municipality’s impending residential and commercial growth and development.
At full strength, the city has budgeted for 27 full-time sworn officers for fiscal year 2021-2022. That number of officers — as well as accompanying police budgetary resources — will have to grow in coming years, to keep pace with the increased population, officials have said.
About 6,500 new rooftop and several commercial properties have been approved to be built over the next two decades within the city limits.
Published January 12, 2022