BELOIT, Wis. (WTVO) — The Beloit Police Department’s new leader was sworn in earlier this week.
Police Chief Andre Sayles says restoring community trust is a top priority. Chief Sayles wants officers to do more than just patrol the streets. He wants them to interact with members of the community and build relationships.
“When I first started as a police officer, it was near and dear to me being out in the community and letting the community know who I am on a first-name basis talking to them,” said Chief Sayles.
Chief Sayles is the City of Beloit’s new top cop. Quickly climbing the ranks, he has spent his entire 17-year career in the city.
“The first order of business for me is actually having one on one meetings with every staff member here. I truly feel that the value of our employees here should be the first thing I take care of,” said Chief Sayles.
Tuesday, Chief Sayles wasted no time sharing his thoughts after the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
“I’ve been a black man all my life and I’ve had encounters with police officers. Some of them good, some of them not so good,” said Sayles.
“[Beloit] has a leader who is basically no-nonsense. If an officer is doing something wrong, we’re going to hold them accountable through policies and procedures.”
Sayles says community outreach, education, and transparency will be key in maintaining a relationship with the community.
“I think that’s going to be one of the greatest things we’re going to implement here with our community: Meetings with individuals educating them on the laws and why we do certain things.”
Sayles hopes de-escalation training and new equipment such as upgraded body cameras and tasers will help too.
“The new tasers that we have, they’re going to be two-shot. So, it’s going to lessen the opportunity for the officer to use a higher level of force like a baton, OC spray–and I hope this never happens–but a firearm,” explained Sayles.
Sayles says he is excited to lead the department and hopes to inspire others.
“I’m ready to take on the challenge for the young man or woman who is looking out there and say ‘Hey that person looks like me. Their skin tone is like me. I don’t see too many chiefs of police that look like me and represent me. I can do that too if I put the hard work in,'” said Sayles.
Chief Sayles also says he hopes a better relationship with the community will allow the department to solve some open homicide cases to give families of the victims more closure.