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Police chief gets settled
Friday, May 9, 2014
By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Martinsville Police Chief Sean Dunn wants to learn all he can about the city, and he’s spending his first week on the job doing just that.
Dunn said Wednesday that he spent his first few days on the job speaking with police department staff and community members and getting a feel for Martinsville.
On Tuesday, he said, “I started the day with a staff meeting with all my lieutenants and above and my accreditation sergeant. Really, I just wanted a chance to sit down with them and give them a chance to hear who I am and to reassure them that ... I’m not planning on coming in here (and) making a whole bunch of changes.”
In his experience, Dunn said, making changes for the sake of making changes is not the right approach.
“I want to be successful,” he said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Dunn said he has invited every staff member at the police department — “sworn and civilian” — to schedule a meeting with him so he can hear everyone’s thoughts. He has asked his administrative assistant to schedule everyone for an hour, he said, although he expects some meetings will be shorter, while others may last longer.
“I’m trying to block off an hour for everybody,” he said. “I feel like I owe them that, a chance to hear what their thoughts and concerns are.”
Dunn said that from meeting with staff and speaking to community members, he hopes to find new ideas that will make the community a safer place and raise the level of service the department provides.
“I’m certainly willing to commit the time, the resources and the energy to working with the department,” he said. “As I learn from them, I hope that they learn from me.”
However, he stressed, implementing new ideas takes time, if done properly.
“If we approach it slowly, I think we can have some lasting impact,” he said.
On Tuesday evening, Dunn said, he had the opportunity to ride around the city with one of his lieutenants, and he also responded to a few calls with some of the other department officers.
“It’s going really well,” he said. “There’s a lot to see, a lot to learn. Just learning the city streets is challenging.”
“Few of your streets are straight,” he added with a laugh.
Dunn comes to Martinsville from Portsmouth, where he was police commander, which he said is the equivalent of a police major.
More than anything, Dunn said, he and his family have been touched by the warm welcome they have received.
“It was touching beyond belief, the crowd that was there (at Dunn’s swearing-in ceremony) Monday,” he said. “It meant so much to me and my family. My wife and my parents, they really were impressed with the outpouring of support, as was I. It was just a real warm welcome.”