Peoria police chief builds relationships to avert crises

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PEORIA, Ariz. -- We've seen tense gatherings in the Valley and around the world as people protest against the police. Frustrations are boiling over after what many say are racial injustices.

Police departments count on their community relationships to pay off at times such as these.

The City of Peoria had community policing before Chief Roy Minter, but he brought new ideas four years ago. He invited community leaders to monthly meetings and helped foster relationships that can head off a crisis.

"Transparency is extremely important for any organization," Chief Minter said. "Basically, you don't want to wait until you have a major incident that occurs in your city before you try to build partnerships and relationships."

Last week, Minter hosted youth awards for the department's United Community Action Network or UCAN. Twelve young people were honored.

"Our voices are heard," said teenager Ian Mullane. "And our demands, sometimes, are met. And I think that's an incredible thing our police department does."

Business people, religious and community leaders, police and politicians all make up this network. In light of recent protests and violence around the country they have new perspective on its value.

"The chief is trying to build relationships and find people in the community to help support him and the department," said local business owner, Ken Parsons. "If there ever was a need to do that, those relationships are in place, I think that is really important."

Chief Minter isn't breaking new ground with the idea of community outreach. But his methods and commitment have won allies in his city.

"The one really important thing that all community members are looking for is respect," Minter said. "Whether it's African American, Asian, or Caucasian, all communities want to be respected."

The UCAN program was recently honored with a Optimas Silver award by Workforce magazine in the category of partnership.