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Quechan police chief has changes in mind
Quechan Police Department Chief Robert "Bob" Brodnan has big changes in mind for the little agency.
After taking over the post in April, Brodnan adopted a new badge design for the department and is considering fresh uniforms for his officers and updated decals on the police cruisers.
Eventually, Brodnan also wants to overhaul the command structure by incorporating a captain, lieutenant and corporal in order to make QPD more uniform with other police agencies in the area. QPD already has a sergeant, which would remain in the new lineup.
All these changes are an attempt to bring a level of respect to the department, which Brodnan believes was lacking when he assumed command.
QPD was formerly under the command of Chief Tony Badilla, who took over the department in 2008.
“I think the department was stagnant when I got here, and complacent," Brodnan told the Yuma Sun recently. "I want to make it more professional and make it more compatible to other departments around the area. I don’t know if we have the respect other departments do because we are tribal, but we do have the same authority as other departments. We also go through the same training they do, and are able to get federal commissions where other departments aren’t, so we can enforce federal laws.”
Brodnan hopes to create positive relationships with other departments and agencies by proving QPD is capable of legitimate law enforcement and investigative operations.
“We are all here for a common goal, plus we are so close," he said of other agencies such as the Border Patrol, California Highway Patrol, Imperial County Sheriff's Office, Yuma County Sheriff's Office and Yuma Police Department. "We want to make sure everybody gets to work together.”
Brodnan brings over three decades of experience to the department, having started his career in law enforcement as a beat cop in 1974.
“I think I have a lot to offer to the department – a lot of knowledge and experience that I’ll share with my officers,” he said, adding police work “gets in your blood and then you can’t get it out. I am still curious, inquisitive and inquiring when it comes to being out there” on the streets.
And "when something doesn’t look right,” Brodman said he is “all over it. I think I know how to talk to people and control situations."
Brodnan is a "big believer in education and training, so the more you have, I think the better you’ll be,” he continued.
However, "there is nothing better than street smarts,” which comes through the experience of being on a beat, he added, noting he still learns “new stuff everyday because everything is constantly being updated. There are new tools for us all the time.”
Before Brodnan became a cop, he was conscripted by the U.S. Army and sent to Vietnam. He was eventually promoted to sergeant and tasked with managing a motor pool, which he enjoyed because that authority granted him the opportunity to dress down his superiors.
“Captains, lieutenants – everybody that needed a vehicle had to come see me," Brodnan said. "If you didn’t bring it back right, then I could yell at you and then you couldn’t get a new one.”
After his tour of duty was completed, Brodnan was hired on as a cop in Barrington, Illinois. He later moved on to Spring Grove, Illinois where he earned the dubious distinction of being the first police officer there to be laid off. Luckily for him, a neighboring city had an opening and a kind word from his former chief landed him the job.
“Two weeks later my old chief called me and offered me my job back,” Brodnan recalled.
But he didn’t take it, opting instead to stay on at his new post. “When I commit to something - I commit.”
Having started as a patrolman, Brodnan has experienced police work at just about every level of responsibility - his career taking him to many departments throughout the country over the years. He even worked for a time on the federal level with the Department of Homeland Security.
Brodman brings a outwardly humble attitude to his position, which can be seen tangibly by his choice of uniform. He opts for a simple polo shirt and work pants although as chief he could don a dress uniform and adorn his collar with stars.
“I came up from the bottom," he said. "I came up through the ranks so I appreciate what the police officers do. Everybody has to start at the bottom. To me, hard work makes you appreciate what you do better when you get that promotion. I don’t forget where I came from. I appreciate where I’m at," and that "I am just a normal person. I am a cop at heart through everything, and that’s it.”
Brodnan isn't above getting in a police interceptor and patrolling the reservation either, although he doesn’t generally conduct traffic stops or write tickets anymore. Even so, he still enjoys being out on the front line, and encourages his officers to be a constant presence easily approachable by community members.
“I want to get the officers involved," he said. "Community policing is basically the most important thing because the community is our people. If we don’t treat them right, or tend to their needs, then you are not going to get help when you need it. We are community-service orientated first.”
As part of this philosophy, Brodnan welcomes community members to approach him at any time with comments or concerns.
“This door is always open," he said.