Newly appointed San Gabriel Police Chief Eugene Harris starts work today, Oct. 3, and he’s hitting the ground running.
The 24-year law enforcement veteran said he has big plans for the department, including measures to enhance police relationships with the community, improve training and upward mobility among officers and up the level of community service.
“We are putting this department on the northbound train,” Harris said.
But first, Harris said, he wants to assess the department by talking to the people who know it best – the personnel. Harris plans to meet with every single member of the force one-on-one to get a sense of the feelings in the department and the best course forward.
“It’s important to get their feedback. I need to hear from every single one of them,” Harris said. “What do we do well and what don’t we do well? How do we continue the good stuff and how do we do better?”
One of Harris’ major priorities in running the department will be to promote achievement, he said, encouraging personnel to attend classes and trainings and ensure that they are continuing to grow and move forward in their careers. Harris said he has benefited from great mentorship and encouragement to attend training from leadership above him, and now that he’s at the top he wants to do the same for his employees.
“The goal in any organization is to enhance the ability for people to be successful,” Harris said. “If you are happy doing what you are doing then you are able to put out better product and that benefits the organization. You have to promote achievement.”
Next on Harris’ priority list is to ensure that police personnel are involved in the community beyond their day-to-day duties. Community relationships and partnerships are essential to successful policing, he said. Implementing strong community programs, he added, will help the department combat many of the issues it faces every day by getting to the problems before they get to the level of police attention.
“It’s important for people to know who the cops are and to know that they care,” Harris said.
Overall, Harris said his major goal coming into the department is have an organization that provides exceptional service to the San Gabriel community. Harris learned from his strong, single mother that there are no excuses for not giving your best, and he hopes to instill that drive in the organization as a whole.
“We want to set the standard for how an agency impacts the community,” Harris said. “What can I do to leave a positive impact on people around me? That’s how I live my life.”
And that starts with morale in the department. He stressed the fact that his title as chief is just that, a title. He wants to do everything he can to help his individual employees feel comfortable and succeed. He hopes to be on a first-name basis with his officers and management, even eventually having them call him by his nickname, “Top.” Harris loves hip hop music and teaches spin class at LA Fitness, what could be more approachable than that?
“No one is bigger than the organization,” Harris said.