Officer Spotlight: Meet Chief Joseph Stanford, who is working to positively transform law enforcement in America

Submitted by: Eddie Molina

Everyone in the law enforcement community understands it is a noble profession. Those who proudly wear the uniform know that a large majority, perhaps 98 percent, of cops are honest, trustworthy, and ethical. This majority makes the law enforcement community stand out as America's heroes in blue.

Unfortunately, a very small percentage of law enforcement officers (we estimate it at one percent or less) have chosen a darker path. This small percentage of cops disgrace the badge in several ways. They may commit crimes themselves, abuse their power, and a host of other issues that could stain the profession and feed the false rhetoric that all cops are corrupt.

But what about that remaining one percent? Those are the ones who not only wear the badge with pride and nobly do their jobs - but they go way above and beyond.

This last one percent are living and breathing the law enforcement profession and are carrying it around everywhere they go on and off duty. They actively look for change to make the profession more effective and professional and have a significant and noticeable impact on the community.

They are selfless public servants looking to improve policing, the community - and even humanity.

And that is someone like Chief Joseph Stanford.

Chief Stanford wants more than just being an average chief to his officers. He wants to change the face of law enforcement to benefit his officers, his community, and the public at large.

Driven by Faith

As a man of God and a Youth Pastor, Chief Stanford wants to not only take care of his officers but also help people in general, specifically those with mental health problems.

Every law enforcement officer understands the challenges that go with responding to a call dealing with people with mental health disorders. It is often frustrating, challenging, stressful, and even dangerous.

But the Chief wasn't satisfied with the "just get used to it" approach. He sought ways to improve the system to better handle people who are experiencing a dramatic mental health episode and helped create a new position to help with these scenarios.

Kathleen Saucier, a mental health specialist who nominated Chief Stanford for Law Enforcement Today's first Officer Spotlight series, told LET, "He supports his law enforcement officers and the community- has brought mental health training to his law enforcement officers- both for themselves and to support the community needs. Last year, when he heard frustration from the community and his officers, he worked together with our Children's Policy Council to create a solution."

She continued, "He supported with writing a job description to fit our rural community for a Mental Health Liaison, advocated through policy/political channels to get a new position created, and then proceeded to write the grant to fund the position!"

Chief Stanford's plan consists of utilizing a Mental Health Liaison on calls when the opportunity and appropriateness fit.
And so far, it has made an enormous impact.

"There were times when a Mental Health Liaison was part of a call for service and was able to intervene and prevent the situation from becoming a law enforcement interaction. His plan has greatly impacted the community and is helping both those suffering from mental health episodes and the officers responding to such calls," Kathleen said.

Chief Stanford's program has been so successful it has expanded into nearby communities. In fact, it continues to grow and has caught the attention of Alabama government officials.

"People in government are starting to take notice and are interested in this program. They are looking into ways to get this program across the state in every police department," Kathleen said.

Chief Stanford is just getting started. As a mental health advocate, especially among law enforcement, first responders, and the military community, we are confident he will continue to fight for us and the rest of America.

And that is why he is first in our new Officer Spotlight series.
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The opinions reflected in this article are not necessarily the opinions of LET
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