The Thin Line Spotlight: Michael Spears

Zionsville Police Chief Michael Spears Highlights Department Advancements

Writer/Matt Keating
Photography Provided

Ever since Michael T. Spears, Chief of Police for the Town of Zionsville, joined the police department in 2020, he has enacted several new programs that have made the town of Zionsville better.Michael Spears

Spears also credits the officers of the police department for doing an outstanding job.

“The citizens of Zionsville should be extremely proud of its police department,” Spears says. “Its men and women are extremely caring officers who are dedicated to duty and a service-oriented style of policing. Each day they place the needs of others ahead of their own to help others. The work of our officers has made Zionsville one of the safest communities in Indiana, and people should check out the safe city website,”

Building on an already solid foundation of professionalism, Spears says many advancements have been made in the past few years.

“Among the most notable of these advancements is the full national certification from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA),” Spears says.

CALEA assessors recently conducted an exhaustive review of the operation and management of the Zionsville Police Department (ZPD).

“In November of 2022, I appeared before the CALEA review board and completed the final portion of the accreditation process,” Spears says. “ZPD was awarded accreditation following my presentation. This distinction affirms and recognizes the professionalism, outstanding work and devotion of our police officers. There are almost 500 law enforcement agencies in Indiana. The ZPD is now one of only 13 municipal police departments, four sheriff’s departments and the first in Boone County to earn this important accreditation.”

Recognizing the need to bring community resources together for the purpose of safety and to assist and help resolve behavioral crisis issues, the REACH Unit (Resources, Evaluation, Assistance in Community Health) was also created.

“Zionsville police officers receive crisis intervention training (through REACH) to help recognize persons who may require law enforcement assistance and access to community mental health and substance abuse resources,” Spears says. “The ideal resolution for a crisis incident is to connect those in need with resources which can provide long-term stabilizing support through the department’s REACH Unit. Our REACH officers partner with mental health professionals to offer help, counseling, and services designed to assist those in need.”

Spears added that to encourage officers to maintain good health and a readiness to serve, a physical fitness incentive program was created.

“Officers are tested annually, and their fitness level are assessed,” Spears says. “Those meeting standards are recognized and rewarded. Maintaining good physical fitness benefits both the officer and our police department. To further assist officers in maintaining their health, a very comprehensive annual wellness examination is offered.”

Supervisory and leadership training, along with career development and succession planning, has been emphasized, according to Spears.

“Members of our police department now regularly attend highly rated courses of leadership training to improve in their current assignments and prepare for the future,” Spears says. “Officers now also can earn distinction as ‘Masters’ in patrol or investigations as an alternative to promotion. Officers currently holding supervisory or managerial positions work to help prepare those in their charge for positions of leadership in the future.”

To help ensure consistency and fairness within the department, Spears notes that several organizational changes have also been made including shift bidding based on seniority, implementation of a new work schedule, development of a disciplinary matrix and increased training opportunities.

“These and other enhancements with the police department combine to help ensure our officers are highly trained, physically fit, and highly motivated to serve the people of Zionsville,” Spears says. “These attributes are reflected in the work and our town’s extremely high safety rankings and low crime rate.”

Spears has high praise for Zionsville.

“Zionsville is an extremely desirable community,” he says. “It has much to offer its citizens and those who are considering making it their home, starting a business, or visiting its many wonderful shops and restaurants. Although there has been much growth in the town and much more to come, Zionsville has maintained its quaint charm and rich history.”

 Working with the Community

Spears says the police department had also maintained a solid relationship with the Zionsville community.

“Our police department desires to maintain and increase its relationships and friendships with the people of Zionsville,” Spears says. “Our police officers are not detached or separate from the community but are part of it. We are always available to attend community events, neighborhood association meetings and other such events. We offer a variety of programs to engage our residents including our Teen Academy in the summer and Citizens’ Academy in the fall.”

Monthly reports are also shared with the community.

“To share our work with the people of Zionsville, we post a detailed monthly report available through our website,” Spears says. “Each year we prepare a very comprehensive annual report to present the work and accomplishments of the past year. I believe our town should be fully informed of our progress.”

Trust and understanding are also emphasized.

“We want to get to know the people of Zionsville on a personal level and for them to know us,” Spears says. “Our police officers do a great job. However, we can serve better when we partner with citizens through a relationship of trust and understanding. Their input and suggestions are very important and meaningful.”

Spears notes there are many things he enjoys about being police chief.

Michael Spears“Certainly, the kindness and support from the people of Zionsville rank high,” he says. “I also enjoy working with our officers and helping develop them into the future leaders of our police department. The Town of Zionsville and its police department have a very bright future. I am extremely fortunate to serve the town. I look forward to helping provide the best in police services to Zionsville which deserves our very best every hour of every day.”

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