Ashland Police Department has come a long way

When Terry Holderness accepted an offer a year ago to become Ashland's latest police chief, he represented a welcome end to the tumult that arose both within the police department and our community during a bygone era. Divided along a line marking differing perspectives on community policing, APD and concerned residents clashed repeatedly in the aftermath of a report issued by the Police Executive Research Forum. That report simply stated that our community, police force included, was not well informed about what it means to have effective community policing policies in place.

That was then. In May of 2006, the City sought to fill the vacated police chief position by recruiting Interim Police Chief Ron Goodpaster &

a veteran leader who recognized the serious land mines covering the area into which he was walking. The tall good-natured Goodpaster managed to allay community fears that imagined an out-of-control militant force, and also stop the attrition of valuable talent while rallying support within the APD, which felt itself under attack by the very community it sought to protect. Goodpaster's calming effect laid a stable foundation upon which the City could begin building a unified community.

Today, Holderness and the APD have begun the task of constructing the framework of effective community policing in Ashland. Soon there will be a greater downtown police presence, conveniently operating from a Plaza-area substation. This move is in accordance with the desires of those supporters of former chief Mike Bianca, who advocated foot patrol downtown. Additionally, it addresses the complaints of downtown merchants, who felt negatively impacted by activities of those emboldened to harass and annoy potential customers.

In advancing the process of policing all communities and providing a pleasant assistance for those in need throughout the local area, APD has introduced a new protocol that divides the city into quadrants. In each of the four areas, a specific leader will be in charge. Neighborhood meetings are being planned and the reaction from the community has been largely positive.

But the APD is going even further to ensure it meets the needs of our community. It is improving its Web site to establish a greater rapport with residents and posting most all activity (exceptions are mental illness and sexual abuse cases) online to ensure transparency. And there are a number of other improvements being made to provide excellent service to a community accustomed to low crime rates, high safety and comfortable living. All of this has taken place in the shadow of budget cuts.

APD has come a long way and Ashland is a better place because of it.

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