Top cop spot filled by acting chief, Lt. Bart Hinkle
New administrator says department is looking to the future
Photo courtesy City of Valdez
Chief Bart Hinkle
Valdez has a new police chief in a familiar face.
Dennis Ragsdale, the new city manager, appointed Lt. Bart Hinkle to fill the position. Hinkle has been acting chief since the departure of Bill Comer last October.
Bill Comer left the position he had held for 11 years to become the Deputy Commission for the Dept. of Public Safety.
Hinkle, age 39, began his police career in Valdez back in 1999, and worked his way up through the ranks.
Hinkle said there were few surprises but a few challenges during his tenure as acting chief.
"there's been challenges," he said, mainly related to fact that City Hall has been under the control of an acting city manager since last summer. " A lot at the planning was put on hold until once everyone was situated."
He sees few changes in the operations of the police department, while acknowledging that there is always room for improvement and expansion of current programs and services.
"We are concentrated on maintaining and increasing some services," he said.
The CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) inspections are a good example.
"That's one thing we've had before and are bringing back," he said.
Expanding the department's capabilities to investigate cyber-related crimes it Is also a top priority.
"We are looking to expand that," he said, especially crimes against children and financial fraud. "These are very intensive cases."
These efforts include tapping a resource rich in technical know-how, teenagers.
"We currently have two high school interns," he said, and hopes to add more.
ICAC - Internet Crimes Against Children - can span the globe and involve multiple jurisdictions.
There are other challenges on the horizon.
Legal marijuana sales, which are likely to be allowed in Valdez in the very near future, is another pending issue.
"That is a big thing," Hinkle said, acknowledging that marijuana legalization came about due to the will of the people.
Hinkle has been active in the city's internal committee that is tasked with advising the Valdez city council - which acts as the local regulatory body -on local regulation.
He is also looking to expand the police department's programs and involvement in Valdez City Schools.
This includes ALICE training and the presence of the school safety officer.
According to the city press release, Hinkle coached youth basketball for a number of years and serves as the assistant varsity coach of the 2015-2016 Valdez High School boys basketball team. He lives in Valdez with his wife, Ana, and their three children: Aidan, Bennett, and Carsyn.
His list of educational accomplishments is impressive. He is a graduate of the FBI Hazardous Devices School (2003), the ILEA School of Police Supervision (2007), and the 239th session of the FBI National Academy (2009). He holds a Masters of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH) and a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Lindenwood University, (St. Charles, MO).
"During his tenure with the Valdez Police Department, Lt. Hinkle served in the capacities of Patrol Officer, Patrol Sergeant, Investigator, First Sergeant and Lieutenant. Lt. Hinkle received advanced training to include special weapons and tactics, crime scene reconstruction, post-blast investigations, death and homicide investigations, financial crimes investigations, instructor development, and the Incident Command System, as well as computer and cell phone forensic examinations," the city said. "To date, Lt. Hinkle amassed over 1,000 hours of advanced public safety training."
The city also said that Hinkle headed many major policy and institutional changes and led all operational units within the Valdez Police Department including patrol, investigations, jail and dispatch. He spearheaded significant efforts to modernize the VPD's operational procedures, which included many adjustments and efficiencies addressing how officers conduct daily operations, prepare reports, collect evidence, and investigate offenses. Additionally, his individual efforts ensured VPD became a member of the Alaska Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, allowing the Department to establish a Cyber Crime lab enabling forensic investigation of electronic devices. He was also responsible for the implementation of a mass notification system (NIXLE), for which he, on behalf of the VPD, received the Copper Valley Telecom Business Technology Award.
That is not all.
He currently serves as Secretary for the Valdez Consortium Library Board of Directors, as well as Treasurer for the Valdez Youth Court Board of Directors, and is a member of the FBI National Academy Associates (FBINAA), Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police (AACOP), Alaska Police Officers Association (APOA), and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). He is in his 3rd year as an adjunct instructor at Prince William Sound College, where he teaches Introduction to Criminal Justice and Introduction to Criminal Investigations.
Hinkle's appointment will require a change to how the city employs police chiefs.
The press release said that in 2007, the Valdez City Manager removed the Chief of Police position from participation in the Alaska Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) "due to the difficulty experienced at the time recruiting and retaining qualified candidates. By contracting with the retiring Chief of Police, the City benefitted in retention of a valuable, high-ranking public servant and was no longer mandated to pay the PERS employer contribution for that position."
The city said PERS is a valuable recruiting tool for the City, used to attract qualified candidates in mid to late career but pre-retirement.
Continued exclusion of the Chief of Police position from PERS would be a detriment to recruitment of highly qualified officers who already belong to the PERS system. Alaska State Statute 39.35.615 requires adoption of a resolution by the governing body of a political subdivision to amend its PERS participation agreement. A resolution to reinstate the position into PERS will appear before Valdez City Council during their February 2, 2016 regular meeting.