The new head of the city’s law enforcement agency addressed the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club Thursday morning in what could be categorized as his first lengthy public statement since taking the reins of the department.
He was received by the group with a standing ovation.
“We’ve gone through a pretty traumatic incident within the last couple of months, but that’s the past and we’re moving forward,” Bishop said.
He said a new welcome letter from him has been posted to the department’s website emphasizing the professionalism and hard work of the members of the CPD.
“The success of the Cleveland Police Department is due to the hard-working and talented men and women who make up the department,” he said. “Our primary objective is to ensure a high quality of life for our citizens by providing safety and lowering the crime rate.”
He gave assurances members of the department would be “courteous, professional, honest, proactive and responsive” in fulfilling their duties.
Bishop said he looks forward to working every day with people in the community and “working alongside the men and women of the Cleveland Police Department.”
He called it an honor to serve in the position of chief.
Bishop outlined the goals he has set for himself and the department he said he discussed with City Manager Janice Casteel during talks leading to his appointment.
He noted the desire to maintain the department’s state and national accreditation.
“I also want to provide as many training opportunities for the officers as possible,” Bishop said.
He said his varied experiences in law enforcement have helped him have a better understanding of the complex nature of a police department.
“A lot of times when you think of the police, you only think of the patrol officer you see in the black-and-white [vehicle],” Bishop said. “But, there are very many different aspects of law enforcement. By going into the different divisions that I have had the opportunity to go into, it has given me a very good overview of the things we do.”
He said he would make sure supervisors understand how important it is to do evaluations.
“When you have employees who are a little bit lazy or a little bit slack, you really don’t want to hurt their feelings. You let things slide and it goes downhill really bad,” he said. “We’re going to make sure people understand [that is the possible outcome].”
Bishop said the most important element of any organization is communication.
“You have to maintain that flow of communication. I’ve gone to all of the roll calls and I tell them if they have a problem and they do not talk to their sergeant, don’t talk to their lieutenant, your captain or me, I can’t help with it. I’m not a mind reader,” he said.
He said since accepting the position it has caused a trickle-down effect requiring promotions to be made within the department.
Bishop noted the position he left, captain of operations, is over the patrol division and criminal investigations.
“That’s probably three-quarters of the police department, and a highly important position,” he said. “We’re going to try to promote the best person we can.”
He said there are currently five lieutenants who are eligible for the position.
“I interviewed those and maybe within the next week we can finish that promotion process and get a captain in place.”
Bishop filling that position will cause a chain reaction in refilling other positions, and that will take some time.
“I think once we get all that done, it will really level out for us,” Bishop said. “We’ll do our best to pick the best people we’ve got to fill those positions.”
The new chief is also taking a look at how the department is organized.
He said a representative from the Municipal Technical Advisory Service from the University of Tennessee will be visiting the department to make observations concerning the department’s current organizational chart.
“I am open-minded to any recommendations he may want to make,” Bishop said. “As far as anybody [losing] jobs, that’s not going to happen. I just want an outside source to come in and look at our organization and give any recommendations he may have to make us better. We would definitely do that.”
Bishop noted there are currently five positions available within the department and asked for anyone who might be interested and qualified to contact the department. The potential of retirements in the near future will increase the need.
“We are always trying to find good people,” he said.
He also talked about and strongly emphasized the importance of responsibility.
“I want supervisors to understand that they are to be held accountable — not only for their actions but also for the actions of their people on their teams,” Bishop said.
He said everyone in the public would be treated “fairly and respectfully.”
“Likewise within the department, I expect people to respect each other. I expect them to address each other by rank. We will put respect and dignity back into the police department,” Bishop said.