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By Mike Hazlip—
Citrus Heights Police Chief Alex Turcotte answered questions from the city’s communications officer Nichole Baxter in a video released Tuesday.
Turcotte came up the ranks of the Citrus Heights Police Department after joining the force 15 years ago, not long after the city was incorporated. He said he has participated in a wide range of programs including one of the first SWAT teams within the department, eventually becoming team leader and commander.
The new chief echoed the previous chief Lawrence’s approach to policing with the community. Turcotte said Citrus Heights police has a history of working with the community to solve problems.
“We build this from the ground up being a department that polices with our community in a way to meet their expectations and respond to their local needs,” he said.
He said he is proud of the department winning the James Q Wilson Award for Excellence in Community Policing. The award is only given to police agencies after a rigorous process to determine if the agency can measure up to it’s commitment to the community, according to Turcotte.
The department is currently looking to fill several positions in an effort to bring department staff back to previous levels, something Turcotte said is a top priority. About 20% of the department was vacant at one time, according to Turcotte.
He said the department was forced to make internal changes to keep officers responding to emergency calls during that time. Now with additional funding from the American Rescue Plan, Turcotte says he is focused on re-staffing specialized positions in the department.
Turcotte said property crime is trending down, but he is seeing what he called a “Slight uptick” in violent crime and traffic collisions. He said he has dedicated staff to work on those issues and “finish the year strong.”
The biggest recruiting tool the department has, Turcotte said, is the level of community involvement in Citrus Heights. He said having an active community is an incentive to attract new officers to the force.
Another priority for the newly appointed chief will be a focus on crimes that directly affect the community. He said there are no gangs in Citrus Heights, but gang members are known to pass through the city and commit crimes.
“We do plan on having a unit that is specifically focused here in the jurisdiction on complex but street level quality of life,” said Turcotte. “The things that affect our average citizen out there in the field, whether it’s homelessness, bun violence, persons crimes, gangs.”
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