Police Chief Bittner Reflects on First 30 Days
On Nov. 2 Chief Fred Bittner was promoted from lieutenant to police chief of the Mayfield Heights Police Department, replacing retired Chief Joseph Donnelly. He talked to Patch about what he accomplished the first month in office.
Patch: Overall, how would you describe your first month as Chief of the Mayfield Heights Police Department?
Chief Bittner: This position is primarily an administration and management role. I was in patrol for over 23 years, so I'm in the process of learning those aspects of the department. I have spent time understanding how the current organization is managed; knowing where the money comes from and how the bills get paid is really important. My goal is to run an efficient department. Examining spending on services to see where we can tighten up and where we can allocate money for more programs is important.
Patch: What are some challenges as the new chief?
Chief Bittner: The challenges are in making adjustments from the past administration. I'm focused on receiving opinions of others, fielding collective communication, and improving community outreach and quality policing product. Overall, I want to raise our service level, which includes restructuring the department. So far I have have promoted two lieutenants and one sergeant. My goal is to promote one more lieutenant and sergeant.
Patch: What are some successes as the new chief?
Chief Bittner: One of my goals was to interview everyone in their department and get their feelings on the department and changes I have made. The overall response was that the changes I have made have been good for morale. And increasing morale in the department is important.
Patch: What areas that you will be improving on?
Chief Bittner: Communication with the community and interdepartmental communication. We want to improve our policing service. For example, we want people to call us when they feel something is not right. We asked officers what is one of the things people say about a call. And the response was that people say “I don't want to bother you, but wanted to report this.” Residents should not feel that they are bothering us. They should not hesitate to call us. This is our job.
We need the community to report what they see. It is not minor. Along with the police department, the people are the eyes and ears of the community. If people are afraid to call us we may miss a crime. That falls along the lines of improving intercommunication within the department, from my office down to the patrolman, and vice versa. This helps with everyone understanding why we do things a certain way. Feedback and communcation is important on the operations end, and all around.
Patch: What is your vision for the department?
Chief Bittner: We want to be more present in the community. We are listening to resident's ideas and suggestions given at community functions. We also want to implement an interactive website where people can give input on educational programs. Also, in the electronic age we want to update people on what is happening. We have a Facebook account and we are considering adding a Twitter account.