The City of Tempe’s new police chief is all about listening these days. Listening and observing.

Chief Sylvia Moir has been at the helm of the Tempe Police Department for about six weeks, and when asked how she’s spent that time, she is quick to answer.

"Listening with the intent of understanding of what we do well, what we need to strengthen and are the right people in the right places in the organization. So, I've done some talking and a lot of listening," Moir said.

Moir is the first externally appointed chief since the late 1960s. She took over after former Chief Tom Ryff retired in December 2015. Ryff spent 36 years with the Tempe Police Department, the last nine as chief.

RELATED: Tempe appoints new police chief; first external pick since 1968 (Jan. 29, 2016)

Moir believes coming in as an outsider offers her the advantage of putting a new, unbiased, untainted set of eyes on the department.

"I want to strategically examine the Police Department and the way we do business, the way we staff to be fiscally responsible and strategically aligned with the city’s philosophies," Moir explained. "I want to put the right people in the right positions within the Police Department, and organize in a way that helps us fulfill our mission and fulfill the vision that we have as a police department."

But the 26-year law enforcement professional also realizes being an outsider and having gotten the job over an inside candidate will also have its challenges.

VIDEO: Get to know Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir

"There are some skeptics, I'm sure, and I recognize, with an outsider, there's some trepidation," she said. "But I really feel like I have been welcomed and that people are open to a new possibility.

"There are people who have lived in Tempe for decades and sometimes they're skeptical of outsiders," she added. "My hope is, as I feel very at home in Tempe, I hope they see me as a member of the community that can add value. I think I have to earn their trust. I think doubt is OK because I think doubt gets us to examine differently I really do."

Moir’s first weekend on the job she went out on patrol with a Tempe sergeant. She wanted to see how Tempe operates -- from inside a squad car.

"I view myself as a cop," she said. "I'm a cop, a police officer, just with a different perspective and a different responsibility."

The enthusiasm and pride for the law enforcement profession emanate from Moir’s entire being.

I asked her about her pristinely pressed uniform and blindingly shined brass.

"I think I perhaps represent," she replied with a humble smile. "I love policing, and I love what the uniform represents to people and to the community. As the presence of a uniformed and capable guardian, I want to wear it with the pride and the respect that it deserves."

Moir said she set up meetings internally first to talk with her command staff, sworn officers and civilian employees. She has also met with neighborhood groups, community leaders and she started what she calls "chief’s chats," where she goes out to the various police stations and listens.

"I tell them, 'You can say anything you want to say. You can ask me any question. Nothing is off the table. I'll take notes, but I won't have a specific attribution to an individual unless you want direct feedback," she explained. "So, I've heard a lot from the inside and outside about what we do well, how people feel working for the Tempe Police Department, how they feel being guarded and policed by Tempe P.D. And then some areas that I need to examine and evaluate to strengthen how we show up for the community and for each other."

The new chief’s background includes 26 years of police work in various departments in California. She spent 18 years in various roles Sacramento, was a commander for Menlo Park P.D. and most recently did a 5.5-year stint as police chief in El Cerrito.

That Bay Area city has a population of 25,000 and a police department of 50. Tempe has a population of more than 168,000 (as of 2013); the Police Department is comprised of 500 sworn and civilian personnel.

So is Moir ready for Tempe, a city nearly seven times larger than El Cerrito with a department that's 10 times bigger that her last post?

“That's a fair question," she answered. "Because where I grew up in policing is with the Sacramento Police Department. Sacramento and Tempe are so similar, and they're similar in that they're vibrant communities, college towns. Sacramento, where I really learned about policing, is a police department that when I was there had 804 sworn about 400 professional staff serving a population, a very diverse and inclusive population of 450,000."

Moir said she feels her experience in Sacramento, working her way through the ranks in a complex and fast-paced city, coupled with her management experience in Menlo Park and El Cerrito makes her ready to lead Tempe into the age of 21st-century policing.

"I think arriving in Tempe is a perfect intersection for me," she said. "I believe that we arrive in the places we're supposed to be at the right time. I feel as though I am in Tempe at the right time in my evolution as a police officer and as a leader, the right time with the environment in Tempe."

Being a guardian of people is at the core of Moir’s policing philosophy.

"I believe wholly in policing that our responsibility is to reduce harm in neighborhoods, to connect with people, to serve people as warriors, as guardians when appropriate,” Moir said.

Highly educated and respected, Moir is aware that she is bringing a different management style to the Department than what it has seen in the past. There has long been a sense that the Department was run by fear and retaliation.

"I have heard how the Tempe Police Department and the executive team has perceptively shown up before. I've heard a lot of the stories," she said. "What I've seen is this -- I've seen individuals that are wholly committed to guarding this community. They are committed individually and organizationally; we are committed to providing the premier police service to those that live, work and play in Tempe."

One of the key components of Moir’s leadership will be making sure the right people are in the right positions. So far, Moir said she does not see a need for sweeping changes in personnel.

"I will tell you that individuals are being challenged. They're being challenged to show up differently for each other inside the Police Department and show up differently perhaps outside the Police Department. And what that is, is it's a strengthening of our commitment to why we are in this very noble profession of policing." Moir said.

Change is inevitable under a new leader but Moir does not believe Tempe P.D. is broken. She would like to see changes in how the city polices special events and plans to create a Special Events Squad.

FBI statistics show Tempe has the highest crime rate and the lowest crime clearance rate among the East Valley cities when compared to Phoenix. And the clearance rate of sexual assaults in Tempe is abysmal.

"I don't know the exact percentage, but I can tell you that we are totally committed to addressing that," Moir said. "We need to examine the way we investigate sexual assaults. We also need to examine an array of factors like clearance rates. To have something like that identified as a flaw, I think, gives us pause. It is one measure of effectiveness. I don't think we're in a time and place in society where one measure is the right way to evaluate effectiveness."

Working in a college city is nothing new to Moir. She views Arizona State University Police Department as a partner in keeping the city and campus safe.

“Chief Thompson and I, at ASU, we talked, and we met before I arrive in Tempe," she said. "We have met since I've been in Tempe, and I've met with various professionals that are with ASU and reinforced my commitment to be a thoughtful, responsible partner in this shared understanding of not only reducing crime but fostering a sense of safety on the ASU campus and in the community of Tempe."

Moir believes she’s been received well in Tempe, and she looks forward to becoming a part of the community. Moir wants Tempe to be the premier police agency in Arizona.

"People have been so gracious in Tempe. The thing I found about Tempe is, it's a big town, but it's also so small. Everybody knows everybody's business and where everybody lives, and so it's very welcoming," Moir said.

Moir would not estimate how long she plans to serve as Tempe’s chief, but she did say she wants to develop people in the organization and get them ready to accept more responsibility.

"I believe, as a chief, that nothing I do is about me as a human being, as an individual," she said. "But it's about me in service of the members of this amazing Police Department and of this community. I’m really proud to be part of the Tempe Police Department."

Moir is married to a retired law enforcement commander. In her free time, of which she says she’s had very little, she enjoys running, reading and spending time with her family. In California, Moir raised bees, a hobby she’s not quite sure she’ll continue in Tempe.Copyright 2016 KPHO (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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