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New uniform division chief appointed

January 12th, 2008 by JOSHUA STOWE Tribune Staff Writer

Boykins hopes Walters will help unite police department.

Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND -- Police Chief Darryl Boykins has named Capt. Jeff Walters to be the department's new uniform division chief, in a move he believes will improve officer morale.

Chief of Police Boykins announced that Walters (left) will serve as the city's uniform division chief, which is often considered the department's No. 2 job.

Boykins announced Friday that he'd chosen the 20-year department veteran to fill the slot he had occupied before becoming chief late last year.

"We have worked quite a bit together. He holds high respect for the men. He knows the tactical aspects. He's what I call a born leader," Boykins said. "He's coming straight from the street, so that will bring him a little bit more respect."

The selection of Walters, the uniform patrol midnight shift commander since 2005, comes just weeks after Boykins took office, pledging to improve officer morale.

Boykins inherited a department that last year saw repeated public squabbling between the FOP union and former Police Chief Thomas Fautz. The two sides fought over a wide range of issues relating to the department's administration and the state of public safety in the city.

But now Walters, like Boykins, appears eager to mend fences between the department's management and its rank-and-file officers.

"Common sense and mutual respect are the two things that will form the foundation of the new department we are trying to build," he said, adding that throughout his career, he has always sought to "treat people with dignity and respect."

Echoing comments Boykins made in a recent interview, Walters spoke of the need to improve departmental communication and to help officers fully understand the policies and procedures they are expected to follow -- something the FOP had said Fautz failed to do.

"If we can find ways to make their jobs simpler," Walters said, "I think we'll be way ahead in our fight against crime issues."

Mayor Stephen Luecke, who appointed Boykins as chief, said he believes Walters will be a good division chief in part because of "the respect he has from his fellow officers."

Lt. Scott Ruszkowski, president of the city's FOP, speaks similarly.

"He's always been an officer of the highest integrity, and he expects the same out of his fellow officers. I think his leadership style is just contagious," he said. "The way his leadership is will easily complement Chief Boykins' leadership style. It's a win-win situation with those two. I know both the chiefs want to sit down and open the lines of communication -- honest and sincere communication.

"We will be able to sit down, hold open discussions, and understand what all the expectations are," Ruszkowski said. "I think now, in all honesty, that the mayor, the administration and the FOP are all on the same page. I can't tell you when that's happened."

Staff writer Joshua Stowe:
(574) 235-6359

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