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New Gilbert police chief lays out goals for time in office

(Gilbert Police Department Photo)

GILBERT, Ariz. — The town of Gilbert’s new police chief has been in office for just three weeks but he already has big plans.

Michael Soelberg said the first order of business he wants to take care of is solving the staffing problem.

“Our first priority is getting our staffing levels up to where they need to be, both civilian and sworn,” he said. “The city council is very fiscally conservative; they spend their money wisely. I want to continue that – but also making sure that we’re assessing what our needs are.

Soelberg said the town’s police department needs to keep up with Gilbert’s growth.

“As the town continues to grow, we have to make sure the police department grows to accommodate the needs of the town – not only on the criminal side, but on the civil side,” he said.

“Making sure that we’re keeping crime down, making sure that we’re responding to accidents. Making sure that we’re being proactive so that we don’t have to react to the crime that comes with a growing population.”

Another issue he wanted to tackles it the sharing of resources — such as a crime lab and training facility — with other jurisdictions.

“As we grow, we’re going to outgrow what we currently have,” he said. “We have to look at that future growth. The whole East Valley is going to continue to grow.”

Soelberg said, in between meeting detectives, patrol officers and administrative staff, he’s also making plans to improve his department’s relationship with the town’s residents.

“What’s important to me is building a community relationship – making sure we’re communicating with all aspects of the community,” he said. “The youth, the seniors, all the different races and genders. Is there something we could do more? Is there something we could support them?”

Soelberg said he also wants to improve the department for his employees.

“Second to that is our employee wellness program,” he said. “That was something that was big for me in Mesa. Making sure our employees, both civilian and sworn, were mentally, physically prepared for work.”

Soelberg said, in spite of the challenges ahead, he was glad he accepted the job.

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