Oro Valley Town Talk: A message from Police Chief Kara Riley

Published on April 22, 2020


Several weeks ago, I had planned on publishing an Explorer article as your new police chief, expressing my sincere gratitude to the community for their kind words and support. And then the world changed. As the COVID-19 pandemic took a front seat in our lives, certain things had to be put on hold. But even now, weeks later, I still want to express my gratitude, and I also feel it is important to keep residents informed about what the Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD) is doing to ensure public safety remains a top priority in our community during this pandemic.

In the wake of the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001, police procedures changed forever. Since that time, National Incident Management Systems (NIMS) have become second nature to the law enforcement profession and communities across the country, including Oro Valley. The Town of Oro Valley has a designated emergency manager to train and guide the community during times like this. Emergency Manager Char Ackerman has helped train and prepare our first responders, executive leadership and senior management team. Another direct result of the attacks on September 11 was the implementation of the Pima County Wireless Integrated Networking system (PCWIN). OVPD was one of the founding members of this infrastructure initiative that enables regional first responders to communicate with each other during critical times such as these.

As your Police Chief, I am here to reassure you that we have trained and prepared for these types of “all hazards” events. OVPD, along with the other Town departments, established continuity of operations plans months ago. This allowed directors and managers to look at all areas of their work force and daily operations to ensure that service does not stop. Your police department’s continuity of operations ensures that we continue to provide critical public safety services to this community.

While you may not notice a difference in your police services, we have implemented some subtle changes due to COVID-19. For example, our telecommunicators are asking a few more questions when people call into the telecommunications center, such as: “Is someone sick in the home? Can your police request be done by phone rather than in-person contact?” This is being done to limit first responders’ exposure to the virus. As you all know, OVPD is committed to the motto, “If you call a cop, you get a cop.” And while the pandemic forces us to take some different approaches to providing service, we still stand by this motto.

Another critical component to managing a crisis like this is regional partnerships. For years, OVPD has prided itself on well-established regional partnerships that now benefit and help prepare all of us for an event of this magnitude. These important relationships allow us to work as one team, providing the best recommendations and protocols for Pima County. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of the Pima County law enforcement leaders, as well as the Golder Ranch Fire District and their staff. Your professionalism is unparalleled and so important during these unprecedented times.

Community engagement has been a core value of OVPD, and now more than ever, it is paying off. We are seeing our community comply with Governor Ducey’s orders and doing so with very few issues. We have also been overwhelmed by your acts of kindness and support during this difficult time. Over the past several weeks, we have had donations of supplies, food for our staff, and countless other generous acts. Although I have always been grateful and aware of how much Oro Valley residents love their first responders, it is times like these I am reminded and I am eternally grateful for the community’s unconditional appreciation and support.

All of this—from crisis response to community engagement—is made possible by the men and women of OVPD. As I’ve said before, I wish residents could see what I see every day. This crisis has provided you a glimpse. First responders across this country, and right here in Oro Valley, do not hide from hazards or pandemics. Instead, they ask if they can do anything more to help. I have heard offers of working longer hours, switching shifts to help out a fellow officer in need because of child care, providing financial assistance when needed to one another and countless other selfless acts. I have received numerous emails and social media posts thanking the members of this agency for their professionalism and willingness to face the unknown. They do this all with unwavering resolve. I am a very lucky—and proud—police chief. 

By Chief of Police Kara Riley, Oro Valley - Explorer Newspaper, 4/22/20

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