Interim chief discusses policing, challenges

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The Decatur Police Department’s interim chief spoke with WAND about his new position Tuesday, five days after he was appointed to replace terminated Chief Brad Sweeney.

New interim chief Jim Getz, who has served with the Decatur Police Department since 1999, said among the primary challenges for his department and others is building better relationships with community members, particularly African Americans. While citing existing efforts to build those relationships, such as the Area Leaders and Education Response Team, Getz also called for more outreach.

“I don’t want the first time that someone meets a police officer (to be) if they’re in trouble or if they need something,” Getz said. “I want my officers, when they’re not handling calls for service, if they see kids playing basketball on the side of the road, I want them to stop and talk to those kids.”

Getz said that addressing violent crime is a priority for his department, but he said officers are also focusing on preventing distracted driving, a crime that increased in 2015, and on policing the drug K-2.

“Several citizens went to the city council meetings over the past few months and voiced their opinions on K-2, and we are working that right now,” Getz said. “We’re investigating that, and there will be some arrests in the future on K-2.”

Getz declined to discuss the former chief or his firing.  

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