Takoma Park Police Chief Retires After more than 42 Years of Service
Takoma Park Police Chief Retires
After more than 42 Years of Service
Today I will complete 42 ½ years as a police officer. I have been honored and consider it a privilege to have served as the Police Chief of Takoma Park for the last 5 ½ years. I thank you for letting me work with you to make our community safer. I have enjoyed meeting you and talking with you. We had good, bad and unusual times during my tenure.
Takoma park is a special community. Please take care and God bless you.
- Chief Ronald Ricucci
Chief of Police Accomplishments
Chief Ronald A. Ricucci, who is completing 5 ½ years as Police Chief in Takoma Park, will be retiring tomorrow, July 31, 2012, which is his last day at the Takoma Park Police Department. The following accomplishments occurred on his watch:
Reduction in Crime. Over the 5+ years the Chief has been in office, there was a 25.9% reduction in Part I crimes. There was a significant reduction in robberies and burglaries.
Crime Scene Unit. On June 1, 2008, Takoma Park Police launched its first sworn and civilian Crime Scene Unit. This new Unit was a step to better serve the community in the investigation and follow up of crimes.
Be Safe in Takoma Park. The Takoma Park Police Department and the Public Safety Citizens Advisory Committee (PSCAC) teamed up to assist citizens in taking preventative measures against crime by disseminating
a flyer entitled “Be Safe in Takoma Park.” The flyer urged
residents to contact the Public Information Officer in order to sign up to receive e-mail crime reports and advisories from the police department. The PSCAC developed the flyer with input from the police and it coordinated distribution efforts by a team of volunteers, many who were neighborhood safety contacts or citizen patrols.
Pedestrian Safety Initiative in the Crossroads. On December 3, 2008, Chief Manger (Montgomery County) and former Chief Hylton (Prince George’s County) attended the Pedestrian Safety Initiative in the Crossroads put on by the Maryland International Corridor-Collaborative Supervision & Focused Enforcement (CSAFE) Program. Five Takoma Park patrol officers, along with the Public Information Officer, participated in this very successful event, with community volunteers and officers from the Prince George’s County Police Department and Montgomery County Police Department. We reached out to thousands of people and raised their awareness about pedestrian safety and traffic laws. As a result of targeted enforcement conducted by the three police departments, officers issued over 300 warnings to pedestrians for failing to use a crosswalk, 30 warnings to drivers for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, two citations to drivers for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, one citation to a driver for failing to stop at a traffic signal, 13 citations to drivers for speeding and 29 citations to drivers for failing to use their seatbelts.
License Plate Recognition Scanner. In 2008, the Takoma Park Police Department was granted funding for FY2009, through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention (GOCCP), for a “License Plate Recognition Scanner (LETC). “LETC is attached to a police cruiser. It works by capturing digital license plate images as they pass a camera, whether mobile or fixed. The plates are automatically cross-checked in real time against multiple local, regional, statewide and, if appropriate, national databases to identify vehicles that are of interest to the authorities. LETC can access multiple databases simultaneously and report not only matches, but which database contained the vehicle of interest. Vehicle matches are reported instantly, allowing the officer to take appropriate action. Every license plate is compared to a list of “vehicles of interest” associated with auto theft, felony warrants, “Be on the Lookouts,” parking violations, or any other license plate-oriented databases, such as Amber Alerts, National Crime Information Center (NCIC) downloads, etc., the police agency wishes to use. Research has shown that patrol officers equipped with the technology can have arrest rates significantly higher than officers working without it. This too l delivers reductions in crime, enhances community safety and safer roads.” This was another tool in reducing crime in the City.
In-Car Video Cameras. During 2008, 11 camera systems were purchased.
The cameras were installed and are fully operational in all vehicles.
As of July 2012, the department has cameras in all patrol cars.
Canine Unit. The department entered 2008 with two K-9 teams. During 2008, one of our canines retired and a replacement dog was budgeted. A partnership was formed with Montgomery County to provide free training.
This allowed for the purchase of a third K-9.
Langley Park Initiative. A new crime initiative was announced, which ran from June 16 until June 20, 2008. The initiative addressed quality of life issues in the Langley Park area. As a result of events in that area, and the requests from citizens and business owners, the crime initiative was started. As a result of that initiative, the following enforcement action was taken:
Crime Analyst. In 2007, a Crime Analyst was hired. The Crime Analyst
A Child is Missing Alert Program. The Takoma Park Police Department formalized an agreement with A Child is Missing Alert Program to provide a high tech method to search locally for missing children, missing elderly persons (often suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease), college students, and missing persons who may be mentally or physically challenged or disabled. The non-profit organization’s alert system is operated nationwide and utilizes sophisticated computer-mapping systems and trained technicians to place 1,000 phone calls per minute to residents and businesses in the area where someone has gone missing.
The alert system is highly localized and can be used when an AMBER Alert is not warranted, or it can be used in tandem with AMBER Alerts and thereby increasing the effectiveness of both. The program is a free service to law enforcement and a valuable investigative tool.
Speed Cameras. The City of Takoma Park worked with ACS Solutions to install speed cameras; one in the 7200 block of New Hampshire Avenue
(southbound) and the 7100 block of New Hampshire Avenue (northbound).
Two cameras were also installed in the eastbound and westbound lanes of the 500 block of Ethan Allen Avenue. On March 16, 2009, the Takoma Park Police began issuing warnings to violators driving 11 miles over the speed limit. On April 1, 2009, the speed cameras went live and police began issuing citations. On October 1, 2009, the limit was raised to 12 miles over the speed limit for issuing citations. On January 31, 2011, an additional portable speed camera was placed in the 900 block of eastbound University Boulevard. Additional cameras are now on East-West Highway and pending on Carroll Avenue.
Chief’s Advisory Board. A Chief’s Advisory Board was implemented in 2009, made up of 12 citizens and/or business owners in the City.
This Board advises the Chief on issues, concerns and matters which affect the quality of life in the City. The Chief updates and briefs the Board on a monthly basis on what is occurring in the City and the police department. The Chief and members of the Board met before the City Council on July 9, 2012, and received high praise from the Council on the work that is being done.
CompStat. The purpose of CompStat (Computer Statistics) is to develop effective strategies to combat crime or other issues within a neighborhood, based on data analysis and accountability. It focuses on outcomes and is not used to measure productivity. It is a system that is used to strategically manage law enforcement operations. In March 2009, the Chief implemented CompStat presentations at his monthly staff meetings to follow crime trends and patterns in the City. The City held its first public CompStat meeting on September 30, 2009.
Tip411 Program. The Police Department added a new dimension to “eyes and ears” on the street to help create a safer community. The police launched Tip411, an internet-based tool that enables the public to text message an anonymous tip to police, and lets the police respond back creating a two-way anonymous “chat.” Tip411 put a powerful new crime fighting tool into the hands of the community for all ages and demographics. Anyone with a cell phone can send an anonymous tip to the Takoma Park Police Department by typing in the number 847411 and typing the word “TPPDTIP” before the message. It’s 100 % anonymous.
This tip line is intended for non-emergency tips; it is not an alternative to calling 9-1-1. This capability is a new paradigm for creating safer communities – especially in reaching out to a younger age demographic. CitizenObserver, a St. Paul, Minnesota Company, founded in 2000, provides the web-based alerting tools to law enforcement, education and public safety agencies in over 40 states.
Facebook. In 2009, the Police Department launched a Facebook page that links to all advisories and news releases put out by the Public Information Officer. This was another tool which allowed police to quickly disperse critical information to as many of the citizens as possible, enabling the police department to better serve them. The goal was to have as much contact with the public as possible. It is another avenue for people to see what’s going on in the police department that serves their community. As the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter continue to grow, law enforcement agencies all over the country are taking notice. The department decided to start with Facebook because it is believed to target the majority of persons – not only the younger generation, which is a plus, but adults as well. It’s another tool for citizens to interact with the police.
National Night Out. In August 2009, the City of Takoma Park was selected as a National Award Winner for its outstanding participation in the 26th Annual National Night Out (NNO) crime, drug and violence prevention program. The National Association of Town Watch, who sponsors this event, bestowed a special award recognizing Takoma Park’s achievements in the NNO 2009 campaign. As part of NNO 2009, Takoma Park Police participated in a program called “Project 365.”
The program asked each police department participating in NNO to designate a problem and/or problem-area in their community. The goal was to work towards correcting, or having a major impact, on the problem within an estimated “365” days – or in other words, by NNO 2010.
Takoma Park Police targeted drug activity, whereby decreasing crime in the area. By targeting the drug problem, it was believed it would also target the gang activity and other criminal offenses related to that “life-style,” i.e., graffiti, loitering, auto theft, theft from vehicles, etc.
New Uniforms. On May 10, 2009, Takoma Park Police switched to an all black, everyday uniform. The uniform is worn by all officers in the patrol division. It is a more durable, everyday uniform. This was a process that started as a result of citizen feedback on the City’s survey of residents in regards to appearance and old uniforms. As a result of negotiations with the police union, the uniforms could be purchased by the City and not have a fiscal impact on the City budget.
Twitter. The Takoma Park Police took another step in the technology age and launched a Twitter page. A message posted the police department’s Facebook page automatically appears on the department’s Twitter page. The department strives to stay in touch with the citizens.
Refuse to be a Victim. The Chief introduced a new Crime Prevention and Personal Safety seminar to the City of Takoma Park called Refuse to be a Victim. This seminar was co-hosted by Crime Prevention Specialist, Janice Hart, of the Front Royal, Virginia, Police Department. Refuse to be a Victim is a seminar that teaches easy to understand methods you can use to increase awareness and prevent criminal confrontation. Hundreds of federal, state and local law enforcement officials across the country have implemented Refuse to be a Victim into their crime prevention and community policing initiatives. Seminar participants of every age group are empowered with the information presented in the Refuse to be a Victim seminar. Whether you live in a major metropolitan city, the suburbs, or a one-traffic-light rural town, crime prevention preparedness should be something to which you give a good deal of thought. Law enforcement and security experts agree that the best way to reduce one’s changes of victimization is through the development of a personal safety strategy before it is needed. We have presented this seminar four times.
Gang Unit. In 2010, the Takoma Park Police began a new gang unit with funds through the Prince George’s-Montgomery County Grant Initiative (PGMCGI). The mission of the gang unit consists of the following, but also involves additional responsibilities which are not for public
offenders have been tracked for later comparison/intelligence. Crimes
that the “new” Unit have been responsible for handling are homicide, rape, robbery, burglary, destruction of property, graffiti and multiple other offenses.
Full Time Traffic Enforcement Officer. On May 8, 2010, an officer at the Takoma Park Police Department was assigned to the newly created position of Traffic Enforcement Officer. This position is funded by the Safe Speed Program. The traffic officer focuses on traffic enforcement, targeting known problem areas within the City. The traffic officer is also responsible for:
Community Outreach Program. The Community Outreach Program (COP) was implemented in April 2011 as a pilot project to assess the need and value for Takoma Park residents. It has proven to be a successful program. The overall objective of COP is to improve the quality of life for residents of Takoma Park through education on safety and crime prevention and through strengthening the relationship between the community and the Police Department. Accomplishing this objective includes, but is not limited to, tasks such as:
understanding of the job. The academy commenced on October 6, 2011,
and continued to run every Thursday night, for ten consecutive weeks, ending on December 15. There is another class being offered beginning in September 2012.
Emergency Response Team. On August 26, 2011, after several long years, and many hours of training, the Takoma Park Police Department unveiled its Emergency Response Team (ERT). This was one of the Chief’s visions for the Takoma Park Police Department. A Lieutenant, who shared this vision, had the determination and commitment over a long period of time to make this vision come true. The precision, professionalism, and discipline demonstrated by this team in executing successful entries are textbook examples of good police work.
Communication/Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. A position was created and is pending review of applicants for a Communications/Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.
Participant in Montgomery County Municipal Drug Task Force. A position was created and is pending review of applicants for a Drug Task Force Officer to work hand-in-hand with the Montgomery County Police Department.
Chief Ricucci, who has been in law enforcement for 42+ years, thanks the residents of Takoma Park and the men and women of the Takoma Park Police Department for their support and assistance in achieving these accomplishments. Partnering with the community once again proved successful. Chief Ricucci will be retiring to Land O’Lakes, Florida, to be with his wife, Donna.
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