Friday will be Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler’s last day on the job. She is retiring after over nine years as chief. Before leading the Chandler department, Kiyler served 31-years with the Phoenix police department where her career took her from the streets to investigating organized crime to leading the department’s homicide unit and eventually commanding the Violent Crimes Bureau.
Kiyler learned the business of policing from the bottom up and was a cop first who earned her way into leadership. She was a cop’s cop and a police chief’s police chief. There aren’t many of those around in today’s world of policing where careerism, political connections, a great line of bull and looking good in a uniform have increasingly become the qualifiers to lead a police force.
For the last twenty years, a chief who proved their worth on the streets before promotions into leadership has led the Chandler police department. Kiyler and her predecessor, Bobby Joe Harris, a former Vietnam combat Marine and double tough beat cop, could never be accused of getting ahead because they brown nosed the right people.
Both were leaders who knew firsthand what it was like to do the dangerous job of policing from real life experience and not from behind a desk memorizing policies and procedures and trendy policing textbooks.
The line will be long for those who want to fill Kiyler’s shoes. It’ll be a great job for the right person.
During Kiyler’s tenure crime has dropped to record lows. Costs have been cut and the Chandler department continues to deliver high quality police services. Community and city hall support, along with respect and trust for the police department, are reflections of good work, a quality workforce – both civilian and sworn – and great leadership.
Even with its level of 21st Century policing sophistication that has evolved over the last decade – with modern technology and significant involvement in the East Valley Fusion Center – Chandler PD is recognized as department that knows how to take care of business when it comes to taking on serious criminal activity, even if it means risk and danger. The bad guys know what happens when they cross Chandler’s thin blue line.
Chandler’s officers wouldn’t be able to deliver this high quality kind “take the war to the bad guys” kind of policing without leadership that is confident and experienced. Chandler will need the same kind of bold and first class leadership if they want to continue making Chandler a great place to live, work, do business and raise a family.
Not only will the new chief fill an important leadership position in Chandler, they will fill an important position in regional public safety. I say regional because Kiyler has not only been a driving force in making Chandler safer, her efforts have made the East Valley safer with her strong and consistent leadership in the East Valley Police Chiefs Association and the East Valley Fusion Center.
As the East Valley moves toward a greater regional approach to sharing and working together for the common good, Chandler needs to remember its new police chief will serve all of us. Just as Chandler has become a regional and statewide economic power, it has also evolved into policing powerhouse during the last decade.
There are plenty of police command officers with great resumes looking for chief’s jobs, but many of them know little to nothing about being a cop. Chandler doesn’t need one of them.
Chandler needs to find someone who knows the business of policing and putting criminals in jail from the bottom up and who leads from the front and not from the safety of a big office at headquarters.
Hopefully Chandler will stick with their winning ways when it comes to picking Kiyler’s replacement and they’ll look long and hard and make sure they hire someone who is worthy of following Kiyler as the leader of Chandler’s finest.
Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at email@example.com.