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On this episode of the Carlsbad People, Purpose, and Impact Podcast, the new Carlsbad Chief of Police, Mickey Williams, joined Bret Schanzenbach. Mickey talks about how he joined the police force, the importance of relationships between the police and the community, and the department’s future goals.
San Diego-native Mickey Williams always knew he wanted to join law enforcement. While he attended college, he was a student worker for the San Diego County Probation Department and joined the Carlsbad Police Department in 1995. Mickey has held positions in patrol, crimes of violence, vice narcotics, investigations, traffic, and administration. At the same time, Mickey worked to complete his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration, achieved his master’s degree in Public Administration from SDSU, and was awarded his Juris Doctorate Degree (he is a licensed member of the California Bar). On the home front, Mickey has been married to his beautiful wife, Andrea, for 25 years, and has two amazing daughters, Alana and Malea.
Becoming Blue: Mickey Williams’ Journey to Become the Chief of Police
Mickey Williams has been in the police force for 27 years. When he first started college, he originally wanted to be a civil engineer. However, he always wanted to become a cop, and one day, he went on a ride-along with the San Diego PD. “Once I went out there and saw what the job was… there really didn't seem to be a choice after that,” Mickey explains. “It’s something I always wanted to do and it's been everything I thought it would be.”
He began, just as everyone else, by going to the police academy, then worked as a patrol officer. After working as a patrol officer for about four years, he had the opportunity to work in the Vice/Narcotics Unit and did undercover surveillance work. “It’s not like what you see in the movies or TV. A lot of it is a surveillance job where you watch things to see if people are doing things they're not supposed to be doing,” he says. “Our vice narcotics unit also does a lot of work assisting other detective divisions… it's not like the movies, but it is a lot of fun and it's a different side of police work.”
After about four years of doing that, he got helped with burglary investigations. A decade later, he was promoted to Sergeant, and per departmental protocol, he went back on patrol and got involved in special assignments. He became the supervisor in the Vice/Narcotics Unit and “then got the opportunity for the best period of my career” supervising the Violent Crimes Unit.
Through the job, he was able to develop connections with families that were involved or impacted by significant crimes and help them through some of the most challenging times that they face. Some of those relationships continue today. In 2010, when the Kelly School Shooting occurred, Mickey Williams was one of the ones who came alongside those affected by the tragedy. “Being in a position to provide that kind of help and assistance to people suffering through violent crime was really, really rewarding,” Mickey recalls.
After his time in the Violent Crimes Unit, he was promoted to Lieutenant and became the Patrol Watch Commander. Then, in 2015, when Chief Gallucci took over as Chief of Police, he promoted Mickey to Captain and served as his second-in-command until he retired in 2021.
Protecting & Serving People: Beyond 2020
It goes without saying that 2020 was a rough year for police officers. In Carlsbad, officers were working around the clock to address protests in the city. However, through those protests, police officers and those they were trying to help were able to have productive conversations and build relationships.
“Regarding law enforcement, we have a responsibility to do our job better and continue to improve. We also have a responsibility to make sure people have the right to protest peacefully…. our job is to protect people and allow them the right to express themselves in that way, as long as it's peaceful. So, it has been challenging, but when I talk about the opportunity part of it, it's also opened doors for relationships,” Mickey explains. “As a result of us engaging in the policing of protests and planning for those, we've developed relationships with people that may be, at times, highly critical of law enforcement, but through our building relationships, we've grown a greater understanding and we actually have really productive conversations.”
In fact, as part of growing as a police department, one of Carlsbad P.D.’s major goals is to be experts in crisis management. Minimizing risk and slowing things down when there’s an opportunity for discussion is something that will be further emphasized in the police department’s culture.
“There's a really important caveat there: when there's the opportunity. Our officers still have to be free to act when they need to act to protect people,” Mickey says. “What we want is [for] our officers to be experts in recognizing those changing facts as an incident progresses so that they can speed up and then slow down as the facts dictate what they're dealing with… it's not just the training, but it's the application with supervision and management, and then it's also the evaluation of how we perform. To go back and look at incidents after they've happened to see, did we pick up the cues that we should have? Even if it [was] resolved peacefully, could we have done it better? And then learn from it.”
Certainly, part of this means ensuring that the public understands what the police force is doing. In fact, Mickey notes that, even though officers wear body cams, the challenge comes when misinformation or partial information is spread. The department’s response is to quickly explain the factual information about incidents and to correct any misinformation. This is where the department’s Public Information Officer, Jodie Reyes, comes in, as she seems to help inform the community 24 hours a day.
Because Carlsbad, and California, has a large homeless population, the Carlsbad Police Department has a Homeless Response Team. When it first started in 2017, the team consisted of two officers, but the team has now grown to six officers and two sergeants that work every day to help with the homeless population and move them to shelters.
As Mickey says, “Law enforcement can only be effective if the community trusts the law enforcement agency.” Thankfully, Carlsbad and the Carlsbad Police Department have an excellent relationship. In order to keep this relationship strong, continual communication and community engagement are crucial.
Part of what makes the Carlsbad Police so excellent is that they listen to the communities’ needs. Whether they are ensuring people’s right to peacefully protest, assisting the homeless population, responding to call, or helping someone change their fire alarm in the middle of the night, the Carlsbad Police are ready and willing to serve the community in whatever way they can.
Learn more about the Carlsbad Police Department: https://www.carlsbadca.gov/departments/police.
Reach out to Police Chief Mickey Williams: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you like what you heard? This show is produced by Imagine Podcasting dba Heard Not Seen Media, Inc. For more, visit https://www.imaginepodcasting.com/.