The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has a new chief of police.
Patrick Melvin took over the reins at the Salt River Police Department (SRPD) on November 7. Melvin comes to the Community with 21 years of experience in public service.
When he was a little boy, Melvin dreamed of becoming a police officer. He moved to Phoenix with his family when he was young; his father, a military man, was stationed at Luke Air Force Base. Eventually, Melvin joined the Army. He began his law enforcement career in 1985 with the Phoenix Police Department.
“I started out as a police recruit in the academy, then became a police officer,” Melvin said. “I was assigned to the Maryvale precinct, then to the South Mountain precinct; from there I became a field training officer and then transferred to the Community Relations Bureau. I was in the Police Activities League (PAL) program, and from there I went to the property crimes [division as a] detective,” said Melvin.
He later worked in the General Investigation Bureau as a detective in auto theft, then as a sex crimes detective. He was promoted to sergeant. After that he moved to the city precinct as a patrol supervisor, then on to Internal Affairs, back to patrol, then motorcycle detail.
“I was promoted to lieutenant and I worked patrol again in the South Mountain precinct, then for the Organized Crime Bureau,” said Melvin. “I went to Washington, D.C. on a fellowship and worked at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. I was promoted to police commander; after 14 months there I came back to the traffic bureau as the commander. I stayed there until I became the chief of police for the Town of Maricopa.”
Building a Department from the Ground Up
Melvin spent five years as the police chief of Maricopa. “I was responsible for coordinating the building of the department from the ground up because [when I arrived] there was no police department there,” he said. “When that was done, I was transferred to the Public Safety Department, where I was both the police and fire chief. I was also responsible for animal control and code enforcement.
“I was elevated to assistant city manager, supervising the police department, fire department, animal control, code enforcement, human resources and the city IT department. After doing that for a year, I was transferred back to the police department as the police chief, and that is what I was doing before I was fortunate to come to the Salt River Police Department.”
Melvin’s main goal as he comes to the Community as the new chief of police is to coordinate all SRPD members to provide the best service they can to the Community.
“That means a coordinated effort to put the goals and mission of the Community first and provide the best service first to the Community,” said Melvin. “Another goal is to increase the perception of safety in the Community; it takes a coordinated effort by not only the police department, but by all Community members, to attain that mission.”
Proactive, Professional, Progressive
There will be tweaking to the Salt River Police Department, explained Melvin. He said that the SRPMIC Council, president and vice-president made it very clear to him that they want the SRPD to be a Community-based police department, which means they want it to be receptive to the Community and to treat Community members with dignity and respect.
For the past two weeks, Melvin has been introducing himself to all the members of the SRPD and making a concerted effort to let the SRPD and Community members know who he is and what to expect. He plans to attend district meetings, and he has already met with the seniors at the Senior Center. The most recent event he attended was the Community Outreach Thanksgiving at the Victory Acres II Clubhouse.
“Chief Melvin is very fond of a few words that he shares with the staff regarding his expectation for our performance in delivering service to the Community,” says Assistant Chief of Police Karl Auerbach. “Those words are ‘proactive,’ ‘professional’ and ‘progressive.’”
“We’re definitely moving in the direction of a proactive-minded, professional, and progressive-thinking police department,” said Melvin. “I am very grateful for the warm reception I received from all the staff and Community members upon my arrival here.”
Melvin is married and has three children; two are in currently in military training and the third still lives at home.