ARLINGTON — The city now has a police chief for the first time in more than two years.
The Arlington City Council on Monday swore in Jonathan Ventura as police chief. He has been with the Arlington Police Department for 16 years and the deputy chief since February 2015.
His goals as chief include working more closely with neighbors and business owners in Arlington to deter criminals and to recognize and report crimes.
“We’ve worked real hard these last couple years to build relationships with the community,” he said.
His selection is a change in how police chiefs have been picked in the past. Arlington has a history of looking outside of the department. Ventura’s promotion shows that officials now are looking locally.
“This is kind of a new era for us,” he said. “It just makes sense. If we have that talent, we should develop that talent and bring it forward. No one knows the community better than these officers.”
Arlington’s last police chief, Nelson Beazley, resigned in May 2014. He was the third chief to leave within a six-year period. Bruce Stedman, who was then fire chief, was hired as a temporary public safety director, running police and fire operations. He was tasked with overseeing changes in the police department aimed at improving communication and reducing property crime.
A $35,000 study of management and operations at the department, completed in May 2014, identified internal problems, including a lack of communication and a need for community connections. The report also stated that the department needed better longterm planning, a way to prepare employees for advancement and to foster trust among staff.
Stedman was asked to tackle those problems. The public safety director contract expired June 4 and Stedman has returned to working as chief of the city’s fire department.
Ventura has a two-year employment agreement as police chief. He’ll start at an annual salary of $137,232 and move up to $141,360 after six months, according to the agreement.
Mayor Barbara Tolbert said Ventura was an easy choice for the job. He is dedicated to his officers, understands community policing and wants to address public safety concerns, she said in a news release.
The Arlington Police Department has 24 commissioned officers and a $5.56 million budget this year.
Officials in 2014 set a goal of reducing property crime rates, including theft and shoplifting, by 30 percent. They still are working on that goal. The Arlington Police Department is facing the same challenges with heroin that all local cities and counties are facing, Ventura said.
“We definitely are willing to try new things until we find what works,” he said.
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.