By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – Scott Lavis has been named the new police chief, following the retirement of Police Chief Ray Watters.
Lavis, who has been with the Police Department for 25 years, began his career in law enforcement as a marine deputy with the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department and as a police officer with the Memphis Police Department on the border of St. Clair and Macomb counties.
He said he grew up knowing he wanted to work in law enforcement.
“As far back as I can remember, it was something I always wanted to do,” Lavis said. “I had family and friends in law enforcement and always looked up to them.”
His great grandfather was a police officer for 30 years who retired as a lieutenant, his mother worked in the records bureau for a sheriff’s department and his brother worked for the Lincoln Park Police Department, rising to the rank of deputy chief before his retirement.
Lavis said the LPPD has undertaken several approaches to address the staffing challenges faced by police departments throughout the country.
“We now offer signing bonuses and have lateral step increases for hires with previous experience,” he said. “We offer current employees referral bonuses.”
Lavis said the department is also sponsoring recruits and sending them to the police academy, something that hadn’t been done for decades.
“These recruits are paid while they attend,” he said. “The department has paid cadet positions, and we partner with local colleges to provide internship programs.”
Lavis said he believes it would be beneficial for the department to highlight its recruiting efforts at community functions and through social media.
He said he hopes to obtain body-worn cameras for the department’s police officers, and would like to acquire an aerial drone as well.
“I would also like to partner with businesses throughout the city and purchase more of the Flock Safety license plate recognition cameras which the city currently has,” he said.
Lavis said training is also important, to advance officers’ skill sets and to help keep them and the community safe.
“Training which focuses on communication, decision making and critical thinking would assist with this,” he said.
Lavis said his top priorities are crime prevention, community outreach and engagement, and the safety of the city’s police officers and of the community.