Town Council to allow cops to work with outside legal provider to write policies

The Prescott Valley Town Council on Thursday, Sept. 28 gave initial approval to a plan that would allow a private company to help the police department enact amendments to its policies.

“In the early 2000s, there were a couple of incidents that occurred that led to the decision that a number of high-consequence (police) policies should be approved by the town council,” Police Chief Bryan Jarrell told the councilmembers, giving as examples vehicle pursuits, use of force, and workplace harassment.

Jarrell then explained what he called “problems with this process.

“First, any change or modification, due to changes in the law, or best practices, require a change in town code, which means we have to bring it back to (the town council),” he said. “This is time-consuming and it also delays implementation of the policies.”

Jarrell went on to say that “you have a police department led by myself and a competent command staff that has the training, knowledge and expertise to create effective policy and to recognize it when we do.”

He said that, about a year ago, the police department contracted with a company called Lexapol, which provides risk-management and policy creation for law enforcement.

Jarrell said the police policies given to the town council at the meeting were created by Lexapol, and then vetted and edited by his command staff, then given to the town’s legal department before being supplied to the council members.

Town attorney Ivan Legler explained to the council that it was first being asked to approve a change to “the name of the policies that are considered high risk.”

Council member Michael Whiting asked if there had been any changes to the policies, to which Jarrell replied that “there’s been quite a few changes, additions and modifications.”

He added that the department should review its policy manual monthly to ensure that the policies reflect current laws.

“By contracting with Lexapol, they basically do that for us,” he said. “They are constantly monitoring changes … and if there are any changes, either best-practices or legally, they will notify us.”

Legler pointed out that, at one time, the council was required to approve all policies, not just the high-risk ones.

He went on to say that, after three men were killed in a crash during a police pursuit in 2001, the town faced a lawsuit, and it wanted to ensure that “our policies were reasonable policies.”

“You can have policies … but if the department doesn’t follow them, they’re useless. And that’s where I come in,” Jarrell said.

The council voted unanimously to move forward on the plan.

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