Community Outreach, the Seventh Peelian Principle and Job Shadowing at the Indio Police Department

In January 2012, then newly appointed Chief of Police (and Indio Noon Rotarian), Richard Twiss attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the rebranding of the John F. Kennedy Math and Science Magnet Elementary School. Little did he know that his personal escort for the morning’s events would be six grade student and Peacemakers program member James Neurberger. Three months later, a March 2012 field trip to the Indio Police Station was facilitated for the Peacemakers program by members of the Citizens Helping Indio Police (CHIP) and Cadet Volunteers. This is Chief Twiss’ story of how sixth grader James Neurberger later became Indio’s first Chief for a Day on June 19, 2013.

During a community event honoring public safety in 2012 a friend bid on and won a ride-along with me. Acting on his suggestion, I decided to instead select a child from the community who would benefit from spending the day with me. I broached the idea with my executive team, who quickly embraced the concept. We soon began the process of selecting our recipient. Concurrent with the selection process, I continued to spend time with James, who tragically experienced the loss of his biological mother and uncle within a close timeframe. Furthermore, James was struck by a vehicle while walking through a parking lot and called the incident into our dispatch center. During his call, he asked if I could personally respond to the call.

The fact that James had suffered multiple tragedies during the latter part of 2012 was not apparent. He retained the same upbeat, positive attitude that I had witnessed during a public safety display event hosted by the

Heritage Palms Country Court. James attended the event as the guest of the principal of Indio Middle School. It was at this event that I was able to spend time with James, offer my condolences for his familial losses and apologize for not being able to respond to his dispatch call. In typical James demeanor, he assured me that he was okay, understood that I was busy, and shook my hand.

Following this event, my executive team and I decided to select young James to be our first Chief for the Day. On June 192013, James spent his thirteenth birthday serving as Indio’s Chief for the Day. Chief James began his day by preparing for the evening’s city council meeting by assisting me in preparing my speaking points for the police department’s agenda items. He then walked the station with me, coffee mug full of water in hand, greeting staff. Following his tour, Chief James spent time with each Division Commander. In the communications center, he announced that the dispatchers all deserved a raise and promised to bring the matter to my attention. Next, Chief James checked the status of our Special Enforcement Team (SET), which failed to respond to his radio inquiry of their location! Despite the lack of radio response, Chief James then rode along with our SET, which treated him to his birthday lunch. I was later told that Chief James was able to use the mobile data computer during a traffic stop. The day’s events culminated at the city council meeting where both Mayor Elaine Homes and myself recognized Chief James had presented him with a Chief’s award for his service to the community. Following the day’s events, the Indio Weekly wrote a community article about Chief James’ day.

What started as an invitation to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony soon developed into a community outreach program focused on our community’s middle schools. Moving forward, our department’s School Resource Officers, in partnership with middle school officials, will select a quarterly Chief for the Day. The city of Indio is home to twenty-two schools and services a study body population of 15,942. We recognize this population as a pipeline of potential future public safety professionals. This new community-focused policing program is in accord with Sir Robert Peel’s Seventh Principle of Policing, “Police at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.” As a Rotarian the prospect of exposing young community members to a career in public safety through job shadowing solidifies our motto “Service Above Self” and intertwines the Indio Police Department’s motto, “Our community…Our commitment”. For mottos and mission statements are of little value unless they are modeled and acted upon! 

June 2013
By Richard P. Twiss, Chief of Police
City of Indio, Ca Police Department & Indio Noon Rotarian

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