Chief prospects discuss careers

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Bill Press > Spent majority of career in Florida and Alabama

By Arin McKenna

Third in a series
Police chief candidate Bill Press, 61, emphasizes the maturity his training and experience has given him.

“I have 39 years of policing experience. I have four degrees–that includes a doctorate, and I have over 3,600 hours of police training,” Press said. “I think collectively that has brought me to a certain maturity level that will allow me to negotiate in between all the obstacles that I might face to produce a more efficient, more effective police department, where people want to come to work and where people admire their officers.”

Press has been police chief of the City of Fairhope, Ala., since 2009. He spent 29 years with the Miami-Dade Police Department, working his way up from officer to executive officer (the highest civil service classification of police captain).

Press writes, “As the Chief of Police for the City of Fairhope, Alabama, I was literally a change agent, from instituting 21st century technology to ensuring a fair disciplinary process that held every employee accountable.”
Press told the Los Alamos Monitor that making that change meant bucking a “good old boy” system, but earned him the respect of the community. He writes that he “initiated transparent community processes that involved all stakeholders, resulting in departmental efficiency, integrity and a new sense of public confidence.”
Press feels his ability to foster positive relationships within the community and the department is one of his strongest assets.

“I have the experience and the know-how to work with others within city and county governments, and I also love helping to make the community even better. And by that I mean developing a police department where people are willing to talk with police officers and don’t see them as a foe but rather as an ally, and that’s what I’m hoping to do. That’s what I know I can do,” Press said.

“You know, being a police officer is really, really tough, and a lot of the things that we do out on the street gives people a bad taste in their mouth. My job is to try–through their training and experience–convinces my officers that it’s better to come across in a more positive way than a negative way. That’s not to say they’re not already doing it, but we can always do better, and that’s what I’m going to try to do: make a great police department into one that’s even better.”

Press also brings experience working with diverse populations, especially in Miami-Dade.

“I’ll tell you what, policing in Miami is a tough, tough thing. It’s not easy when people are speaking 46 different languages,” Press said. “You have to be culturally astute to whatever you’re dealing with. I’ve learned that if you treat people right, then that is probably the best solution. It’s OK to have a bad guy, but you’ve got to treat them right.”

Press brought Fairhope into compliance with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, provided more police presence in the community and restructured budget controls for greater transparency and accuracy.

Press was appointed as the State of Florida’s Southeast Region Domestic Security Task Force’s Chairperson for Forensic Response from 2005–2009 and served as Crime Scene and Forensic Coordinator for Super Bowl XLI.
Press has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Florida International University, a master’s in public administration from University of Miami and a doctorate in global leadership with a specialization in Corporate and Organizational Management from Lynn University in Florida. His professional training includes an FBI Southeastern Law Enforcement Executive Development Seminar and 400 plus hours at the Southern Police Institute School of Command at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

“There isn’t a place that I go in Fairhope where someone doesn’t come up to me and thank me for what I did,” Press concluded. “That’s the reputation I had in Miami-Dade, that’s the reputation I had in Fairhope, and hopefully that will be the reputation I have in Los Alamos.”