The temperature in Oro Valley, Arizona, varies between a low of 34°F and a high of 103°F throughout the year. The city also experiences an annual precipitation of 13 inches and a snowfall of 2 inches. In Oro Valley, humidity remains comfortable throughout the summer, providing a pleasant environment for residents and visitors alike.

OVPD Citizen Academy

The members of OVPD who discussed their roles and departments at the OVPD showcased why Oro Valley is considered one of the safest cities in the United States. I strongly believe that every citizen of Oro Valley should attend the OVPD Citizens Academy to gain a better understanding of the department’s capabilities and experience.

Michael Burns Publisher

Demystifying the Oro Valley Police: Explore with the Citizen Academy!

Ever wondered how your local police department operates? Want to build bridges and understanding between the community and law enforcement? The Oro Valley Police Department’s Citizen Academy offers a unique opportunity to do just that!

Dive into 12 free weekly sessions, each packed with insights from sworn officers and civilian staff on diverse topics like patrol functions, crime prevention, K-9 support, and much more. Held once a week from 6-9 PM, the academy provides a comprehensive overview of the department’s workings.

Our motto? “Understanding Through Education.” We aim to dispel myths and misconceptions by providing transparent information. In turn, you’ll have the chance to voice your concerns and feelings, fostering a positive dynamic between citizens and the department.

Beyond lectures, you’ll also get to:

  • Meet and interact with officers and staff for a personal touch.
  • Gain valuable knowledge to share with your community and make informed decisions.
  • Become an ambassador for positive change, promoting trust and understanding.

Join the academy and embark on a journey of knowledge and connection! We hope you’ll graduate empowered to share your newfound insights and contribute to a stronger, safer Oro Valley.

Ready to apply? Visit our website or contact us for more information!

OVPD Citizen Academy, Class 1 2024

OVPD Citizen Academy, Class 1 2024

January 30, 2024
Welcome: Mayor Joe Winfield
Community Policing: OVPD Chief Kara Riley
Public Information Officer: Darren Wright

February 6, 2024
Office of Professional Standards: Sgt. Eric Larter and PRS Jennifer Kleinberg

Internal Affairs investigates incidents within a police department to ensure accountability and protect both department members and the public. The role of Internal Affairs is to conduct fact-finding investigations to determine if any policies have been violated. The Internal Affairs Sergeant is responsible for gathering all relevant information to make this determination. In addition, police officers are required to explain how police handle complaints and investigations, including publicly available information.

Patrol Functions: Lt. Kevin Peterson

Kevin Peterson, formerly of the Office of Professional Standards, is now in charge of both patrol and special operations for the police department. This is due to promotions following Chris Olson’s departure for the University of Arizona police department. Special operations include the Community Action Team, canines, drones, and external assignments. He’s a lifelong Michigan Wolverines and San Francisco 49ers fan, originally from Michigan but raised in Tucson.

February 13, 2024

Records: Amy Hartsuck and Kim Culbertson

Amy and Kim underscored the critical role of police reporting in law enforcement, emphasizing the importance of accuracy and attention to detail. Kim emphasized thoroughness and accuracy, while Amy highlighted the significance of clear communication. Kim addressed challenges reporting juvenile cases, and Amy shared insights regarding businesses and residences experiencing ongoing disturbances.

Cadets: Ofc. Joey Cantu and Ofc. Mark Kaser

School Resource Officers: Ofc. Mark Kaser and Ofc. Brittney O’Crotty

The discussion revolves around the multifaceted roles and challenges school resource officers (SROs) face in ensuring safety and addressing various issues within educational institutions. Officers Mark Kaser and Brittney O’Crotty share firsthand experiences, illustrating the heightened juvenile calls during COVID-19 and efforts in working with at-risk youth.

The deployment of SROs at the local high schools, alongside private security guards, is highlighted, tracing back to the inception of the SRO program in Michigan in the late 80s. Legal frameworks, search and seizure powers, and parental consent for student locker access are outlined, underscoring the complexities of SRO operations. Deterring threats, supporting mental health, and collaborating with school counselors amidst increasing concerns about drug-related incidents, safety education, and the impacts of COVID-19 on student behavior and well-being are just a few of the responsibilities of the SRO.

Various initiatives, such as DUI education programs and drug awareness events, demonstrate proactive measures to address substance abuse issues across different age groups. Additionally, the evolving landscape of education amidst technological advancements and societal changes necessitates continuous adaptation and collaboration among stakeholders to ensure the safety and well-being of children and adolescents.

February 20, 2024

Ofc. Brian Kleinberg

Active Shooter Discussion Highlights: Preparedness, Mental Health, and Adaptability

The recent discussion on active shooter training and prevention offered a refreshing reminder of the core response strategies: Run, Hide, Fight. However, it also emphasized the need to adapt these strategies to ever-changing situations and provided vital mental health support resources.

The speaker shed light on the evolution of law enforcement tactics in responding to active shooter events, while Speaker 3 offered a deeply personal perspective by sharing their own experiences. The conversation acknowledged the complex nature of the issue, highlighting the need for a multi-pronged approach to prevention, including identifying and addressing early warning signs of violence in schools and workplaces. Striking a balance between freedom of speech and government control was also acknowledged as a significant challenge.

The discussion also showcased successful prevention strategies through concrete examples, offering hope and practical solutions to a complex and sensitive issue.

Sgt. Daniel Lewis, Ofc. Mike Kleinberg, Ofc. Steve Snyder

Community Engagement and Safety in Oro Valley: Key Points

Community Engagement:

  • Oro Valley Police Department engages through programs like National Night Out, Citizen Academy, and presentations.
  • Sgt. Daniel Lewis leads the Community Resource Unit, focusing on education and events.
  • Volunteer programs like Neighborhood Watch play a crucial role.
  • More resources are needed to expand and support these initiatives.

Safety Initiatives:

  • “OV Safe Return” helps locate missing individuals with dementia or special needs.
  • Police work with families and caregivers to understand and address individuals with disabilities.
  • Barking dog policy uses warnings and citations to address neighborhood disturbances.
  • Public safety presentations cover fraud, personal safety, and home security.

Events and Programs:

  • The annual National Night Out event connects residents with safety organizations.
  • Halloween candy distribution and drug take-back events promote community well-being.
  • Self-defense classes for women and youth address safety concerns.
  • Citizens Academy builds partnerships and educates residents.

Crime Prevention:

  • Monthly crime newsletters inform residents and offer prevention tips.
  • Development plans are reviewed for crime prevention measures.
  • Neighborhood Watch and Tristar programs promote community involvement in crime reduction.

Challenges and Opportunities:

  • Limited staff resources hinder program expansion and transition planning.
  • Partnerships with local organizations are crucial for event success and community outreach.
  • Utilizing technology and social media can improve program efficiency and reach.

Additional Notes:

  • Sgt. Lewis and Ofc. Mike Kleinburg was a key figure in discussing community engagement efforts.
  • Ofc. Steve Schneider focused on police department programs and resources and shared his experience with public safety presentations.

February 27, 2024

Lt. Weston Barkley

Bomb Squad

Newly minted Lieutenant Weston Barkley, who is moving to Lieutenant of Patrol in OVPD, presented the “Bomb Squad” program, which includes not only OVPD but Pima County Sheriffs, Marana PD, and others, plus a unique partnership with tons with the FBI and ATF. Overall, the regional Bomb Squad has 28 members, which include medics with extensive training in gunshot and explosive trauma and canines trained to seek out explosives, dogs, and dog handlers.

When we heard Bomb Squad, we thought we didn’t have bombs in OV. However, the Bomb Squad responds to around 220 calls per year in Pima County, including live, unexploded ordinance, and suspicious packages. The live ordinance includes old cases or sticks of dynamite and grenades brought home as trophies from foreign wars and IEDs.

The bomb squad is also involved in security sweeps for suspicious packages before significant events or programs known to be politically or contentious charged.

Sgt. Dean Nesbitt, LPO Darren Cherry, and Ofc. Alex Palacios

Community Action Team

Sgt. Dean Nesbitt and two members of the Community Action Team – LPO Darrin Cherry and Ofc. Alex Palacios – presented a program on their team’s activities, dealing with outstanding warrant apprehensions, fraud, and narcotics. They discussed the recent seizure of more than 2,000 fentanyl pills and assisting with the seizure of ten packs of fentanyl power, which can be deadly to the officers without special handling – both local events. Fentanyl is the number one illegal drug on the market, with pills selling for as little as $1.

March 5, 2024

Ofc. Alex Palacios, Det. Tyler Nicholson

The presentation outlines the Pima County SWAT (of which OVPD is a member) team’s structure, roles, responsibilities, training, equipment, and operational tactics, offering insights into this law enforcement unit’s specialized nature. The SWAT team is divided into four squads—Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, and Delta—each with specific roles and missions. The overarching priority is to use the least amount of force necessary, often working alongside hostage negotiators to resolve situations peacefully.

Activation of the SWAT team can be requested by detectives or supervisors in dangerous situations, with the team responding to calls within an hour from various locations in the county. Their operations include high-risk warrant service, hostage rescue, and jail disturbances, functioning 24/7 to handle emergencies in Pima County, Arizona.

Training is a significant focus, with each member specializing in areas such as breaching, sniping, or medical aid and undergoing extensive drills every other Tuesday for 10 hours. Special roles are highlighted for their importance in tactics and intelligence gathering. Training facilities and equipment are essential resources, including a smaller armored vehicle for rural operations and fixed-wing aircraft for surveillance.

The SWAT team collaborates closely with patrol officers, particularly in emergency scenarios like school shootings, enhancing the response with advanced tactics. This cooperation extends to training, with a focus on quick response and control during critical incidents.

The regionalization of SWAT teams in Pima County has streamlined recruitment, training, and operations standards, leading to more effective tactical responses. The rigorous selection process involves an obstacle course, shooting qualifications, and evaluations of work ethic, attitude, and behavior. A 3-week SWAT school is followed by a one-year probation period with continuous assessment.

The presentation also discusses the SWAT team’s intellectual approach, emphasizing critical thinking and decision-making skills. It notes the importance of providing medical aid during operations and the role of a regional tactical medical team.

Operational narratives include the team’s history in hostage rescue missions and humanitarian efforts, underscoring their commitment to community service and safety. The physical demands on SWAT team members are acknowledged, along with the importance of maintaining stealth and security in operations, including the need for residents to secure their properties.

The regional SWAT team is a highly specialized and trained unit dedicated to resolving high-risk situations with precision and minimal force. It emphasizes continuous training, teamwork, and community safety.

March 12, 2024

Dan Brooks  (Crime Scene Technician Supervisor), Sam Gdovin  (Crime Scene Technician), Jackie Saldivar (Crime Scene Technician)

This week’s presentation focused on crime scene investigation and forensic analysis, covering a range of topics, from the department’s structure and team members’ roles to the technical aspects of collecting and analyzing forensic evidence. Dan Brooks, Sam, and Jackie spoke about their experiences and roles within Oro Valley’s crime scene unit, with a focus on evidence processing, photography, and maintaining the evidence’s integrity from collection to final disposition. They emphasized the importance of proper training, the challenges of forensic photography, and the need for continuing education in the field.

The speakers detailed various forensic techniques for analyzing fingerprints, DNA, and other types of evidence, highlighting the critical nature of preserving crime scene integrity and the challenges of collecting proper samples. They discussed the use of modern technology, including AI tools for analyzing community engagement, and the importance of community engagement and public safety.

The conversation also touched on the speakers’ personal journeys into forensic science, the importance of mental health support within the field, and the challenge of breaking the stigma surrounding mental health. The speakers shared insights into the forensic analysis of crime scenes, including the use of specific chemicals and technologies for evidence collection and analysis.

The outlined action items included tasks such as completing training for new employees, transporting samples for analysis, obtaining court orders for evidence disposal, and running background checks on individuals receiving returned firearms. These action items highlight the operational aspects of managing evidence and supporting ongoing investigations and court cases.

March 19, 2024March 26, 2024

Drone Operations
Sgt. Nate Vera/Ofc. Brian Kleinberg

The integration of drone technology in law enforcement agencies was discussed, with speakers highlighting its potential benefits and challenges. They emphasized the importance of maintaining a visual line of sight and following FAA regulations. In search and rescue missions, drones can be useful for locating missing persons, particularly children, and thermal imaging can efficiently search large areas. Field Training Officers (FTOs) face difficulties in training new police officers, and the training and certification process in Arizona was discussed, including the management of a $140,000 budget for training supplies and the utilization of multiple academies for training. Speakers emphasized the importance of patience, empathy, and adaptability in the FTO role and tailoring training methods to individual learners.

Training Division

The conversation centered around adapting police hiring and training practices to generational changes, with Speaker 1 emphasizing the importance of out-of-state laterals undergoing rigorous training. They shared their experience as lateral officers from another agency while an audience raised questions about the department’s pursuit policies and training. Speaker 4 highlighted the need for proper training for police officers, and an audience member inquired about local criminal statutes used for training purposes. The conversation also touched on the value of martial arts training at Bolita Academy. Speaker 1 shared their observations on pairing students based on size and its impact on the training experience.

March 26, 2024

Mental Health
Officer Zack Nicholson

Officer Nicholson discussed the Pima County Sheriff’s Department’s mental health investigative support team, which aims to ensure individuals with mental health challenges receive necessary treatment and support through a collaborative effort with behavioral health professionals, law enforcement, medical practitioners, and the public. Office Nicholson emphasized the importance of mental health support and crisis intervention training for law enforcement agencies. Zack also discussed the challenges and limitations of handling mental health crises in schools and rural areas, and the need for early intervention and proper training.

Criminal Investigation
Det. Kelsea Durbin
Det. Jeff Douglas

Officer-involved shootings in Pima County, Arizona, were discussed, with Kelsey Durbin and Jeff Douglas from the Oro Valley Police Department explaining their agency’s role in a regional task force. The speakers also discussed various police investigation techniques and strategies for addressing sexual assault and related crimes, including the importance of evidence collection, interviewing techniques, and community involvement. Challenges and solutions in law enforcement, such as faster response times and the prevalence of domestic violence, were also discussed. Additionally, the leadership change in the Oro Valley Police Department was touched upon with Det. Douglas sharing his experience and SDet. Durbin provides insights into the department’s camaraderie.

April 2, 2024
Supervisor Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson discussed various aspects of emergency call handling and communication strategies in law enforcement. He emphasized the importance of accurate and timely communication and the need for quick response times. He also discussed the challenges of dealing with traumatic incidents and the importance of proper classification for dispatchers. Additionally, he shared his experiences with a high volume of calls and the functionality of texting 911 in Pima County.  High Points:

  • Police communications and dispatch services
  • 911 calls and dispatch operations.
  • 911 call center operations and technology.

K9 Unit
Ofc. Derek Smith / Ofc Justin Birch

Police dogs are carefully selected and trained for law enforcement, with an emphasis on social behavior, play drive, and obedience. Speakers discussed the importance of evaluating canine courage and hunting drive, as well as the use of fence tests and toys to assess these traits. The dogs are trained using real odors of drugs, and safety measures are taken to prevent them from ingesting drugs or getting into containers. The primary purpose of dogs in law enforcement is to locate and use early warning tools, and they are used to locate and apprehend suspects in various situations. Speakers emphasized the crucial role of police dogs in law enforcement, including their ability to locate and apprehend suspects even for less serious crimes like shoplifting. High Points:

  • Selecting police dogs for their hunting drive and play drive.
  • Training and selecting police dogs.
  • Police dog training and certification.

April 9, 2024

Det. Brandon Johnson and Ofc. Josh Klash

In the conversation, officers discussed various aspects of traffic law enforcement and data analysis in Oro Valley. Det. Johnson emphasized the need for improved traffic management and safety measures to protect drivers and pedestrians. Ofc. Klash stressed the importance of public education and awareness about traffic laws and highlighted the need for protected turn lanes to reduce accidents. Det. Johnson discussed their experiences and roles in law enforcement training and certification.  They also discussed the difficulties and benefits of being a motor officer in Oro Valley, Arizona, including officer safety and well-being. Finally, they discussed the challenges and difficulties of motorcycle safety training for law enforcement officers, including nomenclature, difficulty, and safety concerns.

The conversation revolved around traffic safety and efficiency in the community. Speakers discussed the importance of regular vehicle inspections, the use of technology to improve traffic flow, and the challenges of managing traffic and safety issues at the school. Officers and citizens shared their experiences and opinions on traffic laws and enforcement, including the use of speed-measuring devices. Speakers also discussed the differences between misdemeanor and felony DUIs in California and the benefits of a new software system that enables ticket writing and crash report completion from laptops in police vehicles.

Speakers discussed the importance of securing the scene and collecting evidence in collision investigations. Speaker 1 emphasized the need for accurate methods, while Speaker 2 highlighted the significance of understanding friction values. Speaker 2 stressed the importance of prioritizing first aid and quickly getting injured people off the road in the second timespan. Speaker 1 added that gathering evidence from the scene, including tire marks and witness statements, is crucial. Speaker 3 shared their personal experience of witnessing a car accident and saving video evidence for the police. In the third timespan, Speaker 2 explained the process of investigating and reporting accidents, including using drones for aerial mapping and collecting evidence such as paperwork and crash reports. Speaker 1 noted that a fill-in-the-blank statewide form is used for reporting accidents, while Speaker 4 mentioned that live cameras at intersections can be useful but are not always recorded.

April 16, 2024

Det. Kelsea Durbin / LPO Christa Salica

The conversation focused on law enforcement technologies and tactics, including flock cameras, license plate scanning, and hostage negotiations. Speakers discussed negotiation strategies and tactics used in hostage situations, emphasizing the importance of understanding the primary negotiator’s role, continuous communication, and creating hooks to bring the hostage taker back to reality. They also highlighted the challenges of resolving barricaded situations and the need for active listening, emotional labeling, and reflecting to establish rapport and empathy with individuals in conflict. Effective communication techniques for crisis intervention were also discussed, including using open-ended questions, avoiding yes or no questions, and keeping up with these techniques to avoid losing them.

Ofc. Trey Brown / Ofc. Vanessa Molina

In southern Arizona, DUI enforcement and education are crucial to address the ongoing problem of drunk driving. Speakers discussed the importance of understanding client needs, ongoing training, and proper equipment for DUI enforcement. They also highlighted the challenges of enforcing drinking and driving laws, including dealing with repeat offenders and the court process. Additionally, speakers discussed the effects of alcohol on cognitive and motor functions, emphasizing the significance of accurate testing and training for DUI enforcement officers.