Oregon’s interim police chief unveiled her 60 day plan to trustees at the Monday, March 2, Village Board meeting.
Jennifer Pagenkopf told the board her plan implements the strategies former chief Brian Uhl left behind last February. Some immediate goals include continuing efforts to strengthen the department’s relationship with the Oregon School District and restoring the department’s image with the community.
That was one of the top goals Uhl had when he was hired in 2015, with the department having been rocked by scandal under former police chief Doug Pettit. But Uhl came under village scrutiny for his behavior and comments last fall.
Pagenkopf’s long term goals include hiring an OPD mental health office and working with the village’s new Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion.
But that’s contingent upon whom the Police Commission hires for the permanent chief. Trustees Monday authorized village administrator Mike Gracz to prepare a recommendation for that hire to the board at its April 20 meeting, and trustees plan to then make a recommendation to the commission.
Also Monday, Pagenkopf was officially sworn in as the acting police chief by village president Jeanne Carpenter after the board approved a letter regarding her appointment.
Carpenter proudly announced to trustees Pagenkopf was the first woman to be appointed as an acting police chief in the community, to which the crowd – consisting of OPD staff and Pagenkopf’s family members – cheered.
Pagenkopf thanked the board, the community and her family for the support and said she will work hard to deserve that support.
“That’s what makes me love serving this community,” Pagenkopf said during the meeting.
Trustees then reviewed Pagenkopf’s goals for the next 60 days in her new role.
She said, reading from her plan, the department plans to attend meetings with various groups including OregonCARES, the Oregon Area Chamber of Commerce, Oregon-Brooklyn Optimist Club, the Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion and with other Dane County chiefs of police.
To continue strengthening the department’s relationship with the school district, Pagenkopf said, she and staff will attend school safety meetings, attend the April 14 school resource officer workshop and complete the job description for that officer, which has been the subject of negotiation between the village and the Oregon School District for months.
In addition, she said, the OPD detective who is a drug recognition expert will become certified in Drug Impairment Training for Educational Professionals, which is designed to help school staff evaluate students who might be abusing or impaired by drugs. She said the detective will train OSD employees about types of drugs and how to detect whether a student is under the influence.
Pagenkopf said the department will continue to tackle Uhl’s strategic plan. The plan includes more community collaboration, more department education and enforcement efforts and more thorough investigations of criminal acts.
“I think this is a lot to take on, but I wouldn’t make goals if they weren’t achievable,” Pagenkopf told the board.