10 Questions with Thibodaux Police Chief Scott Silverii
Since taking over the job in January, Thibodaux Police Chief Scott Silverii has changed the structure and ideology of the police department. He has also faced a number of challenges, most notably the brutal murder of 7-year-old Jori Lirette in August.
Daily Comet Staff Writer Nate Monroe sat down and talked with Silverii about the changes he’s made to the department, the challenges city police face everyday and his favorite movie. His 10 Questions:
1. Why did you want to become the Thibodaux police chief?
It’s my hometown. My family’s still here. I’m from here. It was a wonderful opportunity to serve the city that I love.
2. What are your goals for the Thibodaux Police Department?
I want to provide a very community-oriented police department. I want the guys to have an appreciation for data. I want to make sure we are responsible and to make sure we use our resources wisely. I want us to be transparent and accountable in everything we do.
3. What changes have you implemented since taking the office?
The major changes were structural changes and ideological changes. The foundation of my philosophy is community-based policing. We’re dropping that shield and we’re getting out of the car and meeting people on the street one on one.
I also took my most senior commanders and put them over all aspects of the police department. The operation side is toward data-driven ideology. I want these guys to believe in data.
4. How has the public responded to those changes?
Through Facebook, emails and conversations. The biggest complement I’ve received is about walking foot patrols. That’s great. That’s the whole goal is to engage ourselves in the community. It’s been absolutely fantastic and overwhelmingly encouraging.
People just really appreciate what the police department has done. We’ve had a couple of complaints, and we’ve remedied it where we could. I’m constantly asking for feedback.
5. What lessons have you taken with you from your time in the Lafourche Sheriff’s Office?
Accountability is one of the big ones. In everything that you do — in how we dress, what we say, everything we do. Also professionalism and to not make any apologies for being the best we can be.
6. You have regularly attended City Council meetings since taking office. Why do you do that?
It’s not just the Thibodaux Police Department. It’s a team. I need to stay informed. I need to stay engaged. The City Council is a big part of the picture. I want to physically be there to show my respect for the process of city government. We’re one team.
7. What are the biggest challenges in terms of crime facing the city?
Property crime is what I’ve experienced looking back at historical data — thefts, burglaries, things like that. We seem to experience them in rashes; sometimes you’ll get five or 10 in a night. Also the drugs.
Those are the two biggest issues that effect the quality of life in Thibodaux. We focus using that data-driven approach, and we’ve had remarkable reductions in quality-of-life issues.
8. What effects has the Jori Lirette murder had on the city?
At first there was the outrage and the disbelief and then the healing. After that candlelight vigil, which I thought was very important, you started to see the city gel together in this time of healing.
9. How are the officers coping with the murder?
Collectively, the guys saw that we were put under a national microscope. Unfortunately the nation was looking at Thibodaux because of this incident. The officers really saw positive feedback from the public about what we’ve been doing.
We’ve grown as an organization. For me, it was a measuring stick. Everything that I’ve implemented and mandated actually came to fruition in the course of the investigation. It was very gratifying for me to see.
10. What is your all-time favorite movie?
“300.” It can be perceived as maybe a barbaric movie, but it’s about free men coming together for the sake of honor and service. If I could put myself in another place in history, it would be with the 299 other men that stood against an army for the sake of doing the right thing.
It inspires me
What question would you like to ask Chief Silverii 2 1/2 years after this interview?
- Louisiana man decapitated and dismembering 7 year old disabled son (thehandiestone.typepad.com)
- Cops; Old Bulls & Young Bulls (scottsilverii.com)
Categories: Personal Perspective, The Blue Blitz, The Cultural Revolution
I have one or two, if you don’t mind answering them.
Are there any changes you have implemented that you expected a certain level of success in but the results seemed lackluster? Did you stick with it to improve them, or go in search of other ideas completely?
Also, what are your thoughts as Chief on officers pressing charges for all that they can find? I’ve heard about this for years. Some say they are just being jerks; others say it’s because they want to make the bigger charges stick. Personally, I think if they did something wrong then they deserve the consequences of it, but others expect mercy. Do you think this alienates them from the public (as I heard a councilperson say recently)?
I expected that the writing of an original departmental policy would have been completed and implemented by now. My goal was to create a new policy manual based on national best practices and CALEA accredited standards. When I arrived, I was given a policy book dated Sept. 1999.
The write, review, edit & implement process takes a bit.
As a point of distinction, officers do not press charges. That is the District Attorney’s function. Officers affect arrests based on the probably cause associated with criminal statute violations.
If an officer observes and documents each violation, they are fullfilling their duty. More or less charges will not effect the DA’s “pressing of charges” process.
Officers are afforded discretion while addressing the public, so I think it is important that officers also understand that while it may be their duty, it is also their moral and communal obligation to exercise compassion along with the latitude afforded by discretion.