Chief Wade Carpenter Interview
Feb. 13, 2018
Park City Police Department
Headed by Chief Wade Carpenter, the Park City, Utah, Police Department is committed to providing the highest quality law enforcement services to its community members, visitors and guests. During a recent interview with Blue360o Media, Chief Carpenter shared a number of fascinating insights into recent trends in law enforcement in general and Park City in particular. This August will mark the 50-year-old chief’s 30th year in law enforcement.
Since October of 2016, Chief Carpenter has been serving as the International Vice President at Large for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The organization, based in Alexandria, Virginia, has 30,000 members in 150 countries and an annual budget of approximately $27 million. Chief Carpenter’s position in the IACP follows two one-year terms as the president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, being the first chief of police from Utah to serve in that capacity.
Blue360o Media: As immediate past president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, do you still have responsibilities there?
Chief Carpenter: As the immediate past president of the Association, I remain involved with Utah State legislative initiatives through the Association’s Legislative Law Enforcement Committee, supporting all the legislative proposals and initiatives of the Association.
Blue360o Media: In the past couple of years, have you noticed a need for any particular type of legislative initiative?
Chief Carpenter: One particular initiative is our continued effort to see better retirement bills that are supportive of law enforcement officers. Recently, we have seen a huge trend working against recruitment efforts for new officers coming into the profession. We have been trying to support them with recommending much more favorable retirement legislation. Over the past few years, our Legislature has substantially reduced those benefits for our officers. That has adversely affected our ability to hire new officers; we can no longer offer a competitive retirement package for those potential new hires as part of their benefits package.
Blue360o Media: There is a recent legislative trend around the nation where new laws titled, “Blue, Red and Med Lives Matter,” are being enacted to enhance penalties for offenses committed against officers and other first responders because of their status.
Chief Carpenter: Utah also has such legislation (see c. 454, HB 433; c. 62, HB 124; c. 266, SB 31). This is a huge issue. Around the country, we’re seeing horrible assaults on law enforcement officers; lives are being lost every day. It is always a challenge to make sure that we are taking care of our officers. And with all of the challenges, our officers are being held to a much higher standard than they ever had been before, and there is a greater expectation for better education and better training. Officers must have the ability to function in a much more hostile environment today, and that type of legislation surely helps. This leads me back to my first observation: the officers’ benefits have been reduced instead of increased. As a result, we are just not driving enough young, talented people to the career as we had in the past. And that’s a tough thing—inspiring young folks to come into this great career.
Blue360o Media: Are there any other new items of legislation you see as important and trending around the nation?
Chief Carpenter: There are a number of items. Of course, mental health issues, including persons with intellectual disabilities and those with mental illness, are extremely important. Right now, the IACP is spearheading the “One Mind Campaign,” which focuses on dealing with individuals experiencing mental health issues and those who are struggling with mental and emotional disabilities. The “One Mind Campaign” seeks to ensure successful interactions between law enforcement officers and persons affected by mental health issues. In this regard, we now have Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs), and our officers are “CIT trained.” Importantly, the IACP has created a national initiative for departments to have CITs and for them to receive this type of training. As the incoming IACP President, Lou Dekmar has identified the “One Mind Campaign” as one of his top priorities.
[Blue360o Media Note: The initiative focuses on united local communities, public safety organizations, and mental health organizations so that the three become “of one mind.” Through the “One Mind” initiative, law enforcement agencies are to engage in such practices as: establishing a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with a community mental health organization; developing a model policy to implement police response to persons affected by mental illness; training and certifying sworn officers and selected non-sworn staff in mental health first aid training; and providing crisis intervention team training.]
Blue360o Media: Are there any techniques you have found to be valuable in this area of police work?
Chief Carpenter: Yes, our officers have been trained in the proper use of de-escalation techniques. In fact, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has put together a very robust program for officers to practice these skills. Ken Wallentine, Training Supervisor at the Attorney General’s Office, has put together a very robust program called “Street Smart De-Escalation Training” to help officers refine de-escalation techniques, with which we have trained all of our officers. This de-escalation training program allows officers to practice techniques through actual simulated extreme events and exercises, allowing them to experience high-stress settings and potentially escalating situations before facing them in the real world. Here, the officers develop the skills and tools needed to address these situations and learn how to de-escalate an encounter before it becomes a major problem.
Blue360o Media: What would you say is the key aspect of the de-escalation process?
Chief Carpenter: The officers learn how to gain control of potentially explosive encounters by fostering deliberate thought processes to help them recognize the issues a person may be experiencing so they can de-escalate tensions. This technique is important so officers do not end up putting the person, themselves or the public in harm’s way. The de-escalation training process gives the officers a real understanding that things are not always what they appear to be. Officers need to both acknowledge officer safety issues and, at the same time, recognize that the person is in crisis with whatever he or she may be experiencing; it is very real to them. It is vital that officers take an extra moment of reflection, assuming it is not creating a life safety issue for them or anyone else, to slow down, address the person’s issues and try to get the person needed resources so that the encounter does not escalate into a full-blown crisis situation.
Blue360o Media: I see that your department practices community-based and evidence-based policing. Does that help keep your city safe?
Chief Carpenter: Yes. Community-based policing puts our officers out in the community in low-stress environments so that residents can get to know them on a personal basis. Evidence-based policing is the high-tech side of the equation. It is a data-driven approach to analyzing crime patterns. In fact, we have a new term for this. We now call it “Intelligence Led” policing and its process is evolving all the time. “Intelligence Led” policing is based on improving intelligence operations and community-oriented policing and problem solving. Most recently, we have hired civilian analysts who are continually looking at crime trends in our communities. The process is similar to the old COMSTAT in the sense that we are always looking at statistical information and continually reevaluating that information in each sector. And our officers are using this information to proactively find out what types of crimes have been occurring and where so they can direct their crime prevention efforts in those areas, rather than waiting for things to occur. We have had a lot of success with this approach. Another part of the process is working with state, federal and other local authorities. For example, we police some 276 special events a year in Park City, from the Sundance International Film Festival to the World Cup, to our recent Winterfest Olympic Festival, and this is regular for us, this is what we do. So, with all the threats and issues we have had around the country and around the world, it has been very important for us to ensure that we are properly networking with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, our state partners and local partners, and making the best use of our SIAC – our State Information and Analysis Center – for the sharing of information. And when we realize that we may have a potential threat, we can then ensure that we have an appropriate amount of resources on hand for the situation, allowing us to safely host the event.
Blue360o Media: Are there any high-tech devices you have found to be helpful in your policing efforts, such as drones?
Chief Carpenter: Yes, we actually have a drone with an APP for viewing crowds, providing crowd counts and analysis. For example, over the last year we have had several “Women’s Rights” rallies here. So we needed to be on the lookout for counter protests that could create a volatile situation. Working with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office (we have a combined tactical unit), our drone and APP have given us critical information, such as the type of crowd, the number of persons in the crowd, and how many marchers we have. We also have field intelligence officers and tactical over-watcher working with the technology in the field—in real time—to help gather and disseminate information back to the command centers as these events are occurring. With our drone and APP we have the ability to obtain accurate crowd counts and analysis so we can determine, for future events, what level of resources we may need. We also work very closely with state and federal agencies on community campaigns to report suspicious behavior. Here, the community and our volunteers act as our eyes and ears, and we increase our effectiveness as we maximize the accumulation of this information from our citizens. For this initiative, we provide training for our citizens and volunteers on how to recognize something suspicious, and what do to—including how and who to call—should they see something out of place.
Blue360o Media: Moving on to the law, when your officers need to access a particular criminal or motor vehicle law, what resource do they use?
Chief Carpenter: We have our Code Books. We use the Utah Criminal and Motor Vehicle Code books, both the annotated and unannotated formats.
Blue360o Media: Do your officers use APPs on their smart phones to access the information.
Chief Carpenter: At the present time, I am not sure if they do. Our legal section would have more on that.
Blue360o Media: How do your officers obtain the very latest information, for example, new cases from the United States and Utah Supreme Courts? Or, newly minted statutory law?
Chief Carpenter: We share legal updates with all our officers as we get them. It’s helpful when they come in electronic format. Sometimes companies send them to us. Our legal section also sends them out. And many times, the Attorney General’s office or the Summit County Attorney’s Office sends them out. Add to that, the IACP will provide valuable updates on a wide variety of subjects.
Blue360o Media: Any suggestions for what would be valuable for your personnel?
Chief Carpenter: Obviously, digital access to legal updates would be much easier, if you could provide that in a reasonably priced APP format. If the officers could access the APP on their iPhones, that would definitely be huge. Officers should be able to quickly access their traffic code and criminal code. Also, it would be very valuable if the officers were alerted to new laws and new Supreme Court decisions as soon as available. If the new court cases and legal updates popped up on the APP the officers could read those in the APP or through emails throughout the day. That would be great.
Blue360o Media: Can you share a recent moment when you were particularly proud of how your officers handled a difficult situation?
Chief Carpenter: Sure. We had a recent incident in which two officers were dealing with a fellow who jammed a three-inch incendiary mortar inside a metal tube, creating a make-shift type of firework rocket. He apparently intended to shoot the mortar from the tube, but the device jammed. The mortar exploded in the tube, ripping through the popliteal artery in the back of his leg, causing massive bleeding. Since the two officers who arrived on the scene had been properly trained to deal with such an injury, they were able to quickly access their mass casualty kit, obtain a tourniquet and blood stopper, apply it to his leg and save his life. Had they not had that training, the fellow probably would not have lived.
Blue360o Media: How did the need for this type of training and equipment come about?
Chief Carpenter: We have been working for a number of years training for active shooter incidents, and so part of this initiative came out of the work of IACP’s Patrol Tactical Operations Committee. Our work on the Committee prompted the provision for additional officer training on how they can better deal with “mass casualty” incidents and what should be included in the “mass casualty response kits” for each officer and patrol vehicle. The kit contains various items, including items to control bleeding (such as a quick-clot blood stopper, combat gauze, tourniquets, pressure bandages, chest seals bandages, dressings, shears, tape, etc.), establish and maintain airways, protect burned skin, and immobilize appendages (splints). In addition, given the recent opioid epidemic, our officers also carry Narcan Nasal Spray (naloxone) to quickly handle incidents involving any person experiencing an opioid overdose or if an officer or K-9 should be unintentionally exposed to the drug. We have worked extensively with Park City Fire District and Park City School District to ensure that school personnel are trained on mass casualty protocol and appropriate use of tourniquets, quick-clot blood stopper, and other life-saving means. With recent school shootings and other mass-casualty events we want our citizenry, and especially our schools, to be as prepared as possible to handle these types of situations.
Blue360o Media: Are your officers also equipped with body cameras?
Chief Carpenter:Yes. In fact, we are in our sixth year using body cameras. We were probably one of the first agencies in the country that equipped its officers with the body cams. We originally looked at the pros and cons of body cam use, and we decided the need for transparency and the ability to record and document important or critical events outweighed the negative aspects. I would also say that 85 to 90% of the time, the body cam immediately clears our officers of any wrongdoing. It really tells the “untold actual story,” which all too often never gets told.
Blue360o Media: Was this something you budgeted for or were they paid for through grant funding?
Chief Carpenter:We budgeted for it initially, and since then we have been paying for the costs through various forms of grant funding and budgeting. The cameras themselves can cost between $800 and $1,000 each, but the biggest cost is for storage of the video footage. There are several different ways of doing it. Some departments pay for storing the video footage in the cloud, while others pay for storage on servers. Our city’s IT department is very robust and, as a result, we handle the data storage in-house and have had good luck in storing and protecting the video footage ourselves.
Blue360o Media: Do you have any recommendations for us regarding where to focus our efforts in the future?
Chief Carpenter:I think the biggest aid to our departments would be to have a product that spoke to and addressed the ever-changing environment in which law enforcement operates. It would be extraordinarily valuable to have a way to manage the cases we handle—from cradle to grave—cases which can, at times, have hundreds of pieces of evidence, reports, and a tremendous number of moving parts that need to be logically and conveniently organized and managed. The resource or application must be robust enough for the sharing of data fluidly (state, local and national), confidentially, and quickly. Hopefully, such a product would not be cost-prohibitive. The product would also need to have the capacity to immediately provide law enforcement with the information we need, whether from a legal perspective or event perspective. We have to adjust immediately to what is happening. In law enforcement, if the information is not timely—if it doesn’t address today’s immediate concerns—by tomorrow, it’s irrelevant.