Written by Greg Premo, U.P. Police Chief.
In the January 15 Chief’s Corner, I referenced the loss of Deputy Cooper Dyson, who died on Dec. 21, 2019 in a car crash as he was responding to help fellow deputies who were being assaulted while responding to a domestic violence call.
I now want to take a little more time to honor Deputy Dyson and his service to our community.
Deputy Dyson was not assigned to the U.P. Police Department, but he did work here fairly often covering overtime shifts. He also joined us for our National Night Out event last August, when he accompanied Mayor Kent Keel as they visited several neighborhoods.
The tragedy of Deputy Dyson’s passing reminds us of one of the challenges—and costs—of low police staffing. In U.P., we operate with two-person patrol teams. A majority of our in-progress calls for service require at least two officers. If one officer is busy (i.e. has someone in custody, is handling a traffic accident, is at the jail, etc.) the other officer must decide whether to respond alone to the in-progress call or to wait, knowing police assistance is needed. Because of their dedication to service, our officers—like so many in other jurisdictions—frequently then respond to these calls alone.
We are fortunate that a majority of these calls are resolved peacefully and the officer can address it alone or at least manage the situation long enough until backup arrives. But I will state for the record that having only two officers in a city with the number of calls we receive is not a level of service we should accept. U.P. has more than 33,000 residents and a growing business community. Our officers are facing “big city” type calls on a regular basis and demands for our services are increasing.
More police on the street will not eliminate crime, but it will help us respond more effectively and increase the level of safety for our officers and the community. That will never bring Deputy Dyson back to his wife, young son and newborn daughter, but it could serve as a way to honor and perpetuate the passion he had for his profession and his dedication to the communities he served.
Notice: The Police Department Administrative Offices will be closed from February 17-March 2. The department will still be active.