Message from Chief Kathy McAlpine
As most people would agree, 2020 was a unique and historic year. Despite its many challenges, we also experienced opportunities for growth and change.
In the early spring, the spread of the COVID-19 virus revolutionized the way we work. In the interest of health and safety, we limited in-person contacts to emergencies and crimes in progress, took more phone and online reports for non-emergencies, closed the lobby to the public, maximized remote work for executive staff and launched a new decontamination process for our workspaces, uniforms and patrol cars.
The pandemic also meant the countless community events and in-person gatherings planned for the year had to be canceled. We adapted and began focusing on virtual events and launched our first Facebook live Chat with the Chief series. With schools and libraries closed, we also created a series of YouTube videos featuring our officers reading books for young children in our community, called Bedtime Stories with Tigard PD.
Then in May, we were overwhelmed and humbled by our community’s generosity in passing a five-year Police Services Levy. This funding will allow us to hire eight additional patrol officers to respond to increased calls for service, add one school resource officer and train all sworn officers in advanced crisis intervention and de-escalation to address an increase in mental health crises in our community.
Also this year, we launched our online reporting system, allowing people to make a police report for non-emergency events at www.tigard-or.gov/report-a-crime/index. php. Already, we’ve seen nearly 300 reports come in through this easy-to-use resource.
We introduced photo traffic enforcement at three intersections along Pacific Hwy (99W) at 72nd Avenue, Hall Boulevard and Durham Road. Citations for red light and speed violations are numbering in the thousands and we are working to keep up with the additional workload.
Then in late spring, with the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, communities all over the country called for racial justice and changes in policing. The actions of a few people that day changed the way this nation sees every man and woman who wears a badge. In response to thousands of questions and concerns expressed by our own residents, I worked with the Mayor to address some of the issues that were raised through live virtual listening sessions with the public. I am proud to say that many of the reforms being called for were policies we already had in place – however, I also know there is more work to do. I welcome these difficult, complex conversations and my door is always open.
It was in this season that we launched the Police Transparency web page at www.tigard-or.gov/police/transparency.php to give community members information about police stops, use of force, crime statistics, calls for service, our policy manual and much more. I hope you’ll find it useful in learning more about our department and our values.
As a result of community conversations, we will be modifying our School Resource Officer program in partnership with the Tigard-Tualatin School District. Going forward, we will also be involved in the newly-created Public Safety Advisory Board. While this was a City of Tigard initiative, the police department plays a very active role in the PSAB, along with community members and other stakeholders, to examine where additional improvements can be made within our department. The PSAB had its first meeting in December 2020 and we will share future accomplishments as they happen.
I also had the opportunity this year to serve as not only Police Chief but also the Interim Assistant City Manager. Through this new role, I’ve had the chance to “open my viewfinder” in a broader context to understand how the entire city government works. The priority is working in partnership with the entire City of Tigard Leadership Team to focus on the refreshed strategic plan, and the creation and implementation of the Anti-Racism Action Plan.
There’s no doubt, it’s been a tough year. But I’m proud of the men and women of this department and the work they do every day. I believe that through these challenges we will rise to even greater heights as we continue to meet the needs of this community in the coming year.
Chief Kathy McAlpine