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Our Opinion: Graham: a solid leader

February 20, 2002

For the first time in five years, the city of Brawley has a police chief and the man chosen to take the reins, Henry Graham, has a long history of strong leadership in the department. We are sure he will tackle this new role in a way that best meets the needs of the city and its citizens.

Graham is a local product, raised and educated in the Imperial Valley. He graduated from Brawley Union High School, earned an associate's degree from Imperial Valley College and began his career in law enforcement in 1971 with the Brawley Police Department. For three decades he has devoted his life to fighting crime in the city, first as an officer, then a sergeant. In 1986 he became a lieutenant and now is head of the department.

That means Brawley residents can be assured the person in charge of the department is someone who knows and cares about the city. Graham is not going to use the Brawley police chief position to launch him into a more lucrative position with another law enforcement agency. He is committed to give the city his best effort until he retires from law enforcement.

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We are confident Graham has the skills to rebuild the department, bringing in new officers and technology to meet the city's needs. We like his idea of having local residents tested to see whether they qualify to attend a police academy. It is a creative way to find local people who want to serve as police officers who will not look to leave the department after a short stay.

Graham also has the skills to lead a department focused on community-oriented policing. That means he will provide an officer to be based in the schools, continue to support an officer bicycle patrol program and back the growing Police Activities League in the city.

Such programs bring the Police Department closer to the community and that is needed. When the department plays a more involved role in the community, and officers build strong relationships where they patrol, law enforcement can be more effective by being proactive instead of reactive.

We look forward to Graham's tenure as chief, and we also credit him and Lt. Bob Kuhn β€” now on medical leave β€” for the five years they worked as co-chiefs of the department. Like Graham, Kuhn has spent three decades with the department and is an equally qualified leader. Both have served the community with integrity, honesty and to the best of their abilities.

So Brawley has a police chief who is liked by his employees and liked and respected in the community he serves and knows well. It sounds like a perfect fit.

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