Flowers Announces Retirement of Police Chief

POUGHKEEPSIE – Mayor Yvonne Flowers announced recently that after more than four decades of serving the Police Department in various capacities, Police Chief Tom Pape is retiring, effective May 24.

The mayor also announced that Rich Wilson, who has served with the Police Department for more than three decades, has been named Interim Police Chief.

“I want to thank Chief Pape for his unyielding service and steady handling of the Police Department for these many years. Chief Pape epitomizes the best in police professionalism, and he has served this city with great distinction,” said Mayor Flowers. “I also have the utmost confidence Rich Wilson will do excellent work as our interim Police Chief, considering his vast knowledge of the city and the operations of the Police Department.”

Pape attended Dutchess Community College and SUNY College of Technology at Utica and rose up the ranks in the department beginning as a Patrol Officer in 1983. He served in the Detective Bureau and continued in various capacities as a Commanding Officer before being named chief by then-Mayor Rob Rolison in January 2016.

Under Pape’s leadership, the department has made significant investments in body cameras to provide more transparency about how officers operate in the field — and about the situations to which they respond. The department also enhanced its complaint process by improving accessibility and by developing a new easy-to-use online reporting tool. Forms can be used to file civilian complaints and for commendations for the actions of officers.

The department has completed Procedural Justice training, which focuses on the way police interact with the public, and it established the Procedural Justice Committee which includes police officers, other city officials and community members.

Procedural Justice emphasizes that treating people with dignity and respect and giving citizens a voice during encounters promotes community trust. City Police also have undertaken implicit bias training, which addresses the automatic association people tend to make between groups of people and stereotypes about those groups.

With the assistance of the Command Staff, Pape has developed new policies and is currently taking the necessary steps to have the department recognized as accredited through the State of New York.

“It’s been my privilege to serve the city over these decades, and it was particularly an honor to serve as Police Chief these last eight years. I am proud of the work, the civic duty, the department has carried out – and continues to carry out on a day-to-day basis. Our officers greatly care about this community, and that shows throughout every shift aimed at keeping the city safe,”said Chief Pape.

Wilson is a graduate of Our Lady of Lourdes High School, attended Dutchess Community College where he studied business administration and holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs from Empire State University. He joined the department in 1994 as a Police Dispatcher and worked his way up through the ranks. He was promoted to Sergeant in 2001 and served in Community Policing and then the Neighborhood Recovery Unit before being named a Police Lieutenant.

He has served as Police Captain since 2016, tasked, in part, with oversight of the Patrol and Detective Divisions, the Neighborhood Recovery Unit, the Community Policing Unit, and the Traffic Safety & School Resource Detective. Wilson also serves as the Commanding Officer of the Emergency Services Unit.

Wilson was the lead department official in the development and implementation of the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department Police Reform & Modernization Collaborative in compliance with then-Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order and in the re-writing of the department’s policy manual.

Wilson volunteers for the City of Poughkeepsie Police Athletic League and Vassar Warner Home and is a board member for the McCann-Caven Golf Courses Inc.

“I appreciate the opportunity Mayor Flowers is giving to me to lead this department,” Wilson said. “I want to commend Chief Pape for his tremendous service, and the wisdom he has demonstrated over the years. I am confident that with the experience I bring and with my knowledge of the city, this will be a stable and seamless transition.”

Mayor Flowers said she would soon begin the search to fill the Police Chief position and is also awaiting the results of an administered police chief test.

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