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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : local February 06, 2016

8/9/2011 10:02:00 PM
New Prescott Valley chief Bill Fessler is old hand at area law enforcement
A person (with the least rank) may have the best idea. We have to make sure they are heard and recognized, said newly appointed Prescott Valley Police Chief Bill Fessler.
A person (with the least rank) may have the best idea. We have to make sure they are heard and recognized, said newly appointed Prescott Valley Police Chief Bill Fessler.
Bill Fessler: Honors bestowed
Prescott Valley Police Department

Criminal Investigations Unit Citation

Detective Sergeant (2003)

Arizona Elks Lodge #330

Officer of the Year (1994)

Prescott Valley Police Department

Officer of the Year (1994)

Arizona Elks State Lodge

Americanism Brochure

State of Arizona Officer of the Year (1993-94)

Arizona Elks Lodge #330

Officer of the Year (1993)

Prescott Valley Police Department

Life-Saving Medal (1993)

Prescott Valley Police Department

Certificate of Valor (1993)

Arizona Department of Public Safety

Courteous Vigilance Certificate and Medal (1993)

Presented by DPS Director Rick Ayers

Special to the Courier

In March, Prescott Valley Town Manager Larry Tarkowski appointed Bill Fessler interim chief of police and gave him a six-month trial to prove he could lead the department.

"I've had nothing but very positive reports on the performance of the department at the direction of Interim Chief Fessler," Tarkowski said. "I saw no reason to wait any longer to remove the interim label and appoint Billy as Prescott Valley's Chief of Police."

Tarkowski said interviews with police officers, command staff, community members, the town council and the mayor resulted in the decision.

"It's gratifying to see the department has evolved to the point where promoting from within is possible," Tarkowski said. "To grow in that level of sophistication and get people where they need to be, and have a connection with the community - it doesn't get any better."

The town chose Jim Maxson from 80 applicants in 2008 after a lengthy screening process. Fessler's work in the past few months made repeating that process obsolete.

Chief of Police Fessler's philosophy is simple: "It's all about how you treat people."

Fessler, 52, always has applied the Golden Rule his father instilled in him as a child.

Since becoming interim chief, he set out to fix fractured relationships within the department through three common denominators.

The first is equity in internal decision-making.

"We have to make sure there's consistency, and not a 'good ol' boy' program," Fessler said. "It's an expectation of professionalism."

The second is communication. "The lowest person on the totem pole (will know) their voice is heard," he said.

The final aspect is ownership of the agency, which directly relates to the first two.

"The only way to have ownership is if (an employee) is heard," Fessler said. "A person (with the least rank) may have the best idea. We have to make sure they are heard and recognized."

Fessler said he's "not autocratic," and not interested in pulling rank.

"Most people know me as Billy," he said. "I don't care if they don't call me 'chief.' I strive to have people do things for me because they want to, not because they have to."

Morale is high

The healing is apparent to town employees and officials.

"He's a leader and knows how to deal with people," said longtime officer Gene McFarland. "He's doing great."

"I have seen a return to high morale," Councilwoman Lora Lee Nye said. "I want to go on record that the former chief excelled in community relations, so it was a shock to me that internally there were issues. Those have been resolved."

Prescott Valley Mayor Harvey Skoog deemed Fessler's performance "absolutely flawless."

"I think Bill has a super relationship with all of the officers, regardless of rank. That's important," Skoog said, adding, "Jim (Maxson) did a lot of things that were really good - building up the infrastructure and police foundation - and Bill has been able to continue those things."

Tarkowski and Skoog each mentioned another tremendous advantage Fessler brings to the position: his 20 years' solid working relationship with area agencies, including the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, Tribal, Prescott and Chino Valley Police, and local fire departments.

"It's unique and better for the whole community," Skoog said.

"It's not like that everywhere else. Local government agencies don't communicate," Fessler said. "But there are no egos here. We're brothers - fire, police, community development, finance, streets, or any other entity with the government - there's none that won't bend over backwards to help.

"We all have a common goal and we can't reach that goal if we don't work together."

Moving through the ranks

Nye mentioned Fessler's diverse first-hand experiences.

In his 22-year career (one year in Phoenix and 21 in Prescott Valley), he has served as reserve officer, patrol officer, lieutenant, sergeant, detective and commander. He has had stints with the Partners Against Narcotics Task Force (PANT), Special Tactical Unit (SWAT). As Field Services Division Commander, he managed sworn uniformed personnel. In 2010, he also took on Support Services Division as Operations Commander for the entire department, shortly after graduating from the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.

Family life

Raised in Mesa, Fessler didn't start his professional career in law enforcement. He joined the Army at 18, eventually becoming crew chief as a helicopter mechanic. He worked in his father-in-law's air conditioning business before entering the police academy.

Fessler moved his young family to Prescott Valley when the police department was on Valley Road with "dirt roads, one stop light, a kitchen counter to do our work on and basically closets for cells."

But he wanted to raise his three boys in a different environment than Phoenix.

Credit where it's due

Fessler credits department employees with his new appointment.

"I'm not here because I'm great. I'm here because we have a lot of great people. I appreciate being in a position to take care of these people and have their back," he said.

"I'll be the first to say I don't have all the answers. But I have a staff that can sit down and collectively make the right decisions."

He promises it will be fun.

"I want the guys to get back into being excited to go to work. I know what it feels like to be excited to put on a uniform and come to work."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Article comment by: Current Employee PVPD

I am a current employee with PVPD and I wanted to share with all the bloggers that you can't put the tooth paste back into the tube once it's squeezed out. (Former Chief's favorite quote) What is done is done and what was completely wrecked by the last Chief is and has turned around rather quickly. To the former employee, timing is everything. Maxson made sure to dump those who also gave many years of service. Have confidence in Chief Fessler, I have been impressed with his efforts and we definately didn't need an outside Chief again. Chief Fessler has done all the things listed in the article. I have seen it first hand. To the guy who want's us to hire an outside command level person, I disagree. We can hire within and do just fine. If you are unhappy with your current employer fix your problems there. Most upper level command staff that bounce around have issues or they would stay where they are at and take ownership in their agencies. Final thought...Good Luck Chief Fessler and you have my support. Thanks.

Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Article comment by: THE WINO

welcome aboard!
a fine opportunity to UP the ENLISTMENT to our military ! want to be a gang-banger--MARINES! school drop-out--ARMY! un-employed--NAVY!
under-employed-- AIR FORCE!

Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Article comment by: Gail Higley

Congrats Chief Fessler!! And thank you to the town of Prescott Valley for finally realizing that there are more than qualified people already working for the Town. If they had just looked a little closer after Chief Sedar retired, maybe the Dept would not of faced the downfall it did. They had a very capable person to replace him but decided to look outside. By the way that officer is now a Chief also. Having personally worked with Chief Fessler I can attest to his dedication and fairness. He is just an all around great guy!! Way to go Billy # 14 !!!! You and Joey C are my heros!!!

Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Article comment by: Sir Robert Peel

Fessler's best move at this point would be to bring in an experienced command level officer from an outside agency to serve as his commander or deputy chief. An outside perspective would provide much needed balance and would be an excellent complement to what appears to be a decent choice for chief.

Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Article comment by: Rachel . A . H

Jim Maxson was a wonderful Chief. Basicly all this means is the good ole boy network is alive and well in the police department as well as every where else in Prescott Valley ...Sad. I am sure that the new chief will be fine, But the determining factor on being given the job should not be is he one of US? which translates to " No outsiders need apply".. Poor Chief Maxson never had a chance.

Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Article comment by: Prescott Valley Resident

Good Job Billy, It's about time the town of P.V. started advancing from within. We couldn't have chosen a better Police officer and a better man.

Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Article comment by: LE Supporter

Sorry, more importantly, Chief Fessler was absolutely the right choice and with out a doubt completely earned and deserves the position. I didn't want to take away from that fact with my prior ranting. My apologies to you, Chief Fessler. Congratulations on a well deserved promotion. Your people are lucky to have you as their leader.

Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Article comment by: LE Supporter

I have to agree with Ex-Town Employee. What a bad choice of words and a total slap in the face to those other officers there now and who recently left after long tenures. Is that how everyone felt when LT was made town manager after coming up through public works? I think someone owes a few people an apology. Unless he was misquoted?

Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Article comment by: Ex-Town Employee

Tarkowski are you for real? UNBELIEVABLE! "Its gratifying to see the department has evolved to the point where promoting from within is possible." WOW! Really? The town of Prescott Valley has had more than competent leaders within its force to choose from. Highly educated, well-trained, self-disciplined, well-liked, well-respected from within the force and from outsiders. The last two chiefs were questionable right from the get-go. Morale within the department was at an all time low.
How would you recognize "sophistication?"
CONGRATULATIONS! TO: new Chief Fessler! "May the force be with you!"

Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Article comment by: Reed Winfrey

Congratulations and I know you will do your best. Your willingness to listen and consider others point of view will Re-create the calm working enviroment so needed to be a productive and cost effective department of P.V.
Thank you for being willing to take on this position and for showing that we have smart capable officers that can and will step up to the plate wnen needed.
I wish you nothing but the best both for you and the department.

Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Article comment by: Tom Steele

Bravo! It's about time a chief was selected from the ranks. Clearly, Fessler is a cops cop and is respected from within. That's a key factor when your attitude is key to doing your job as a sworn officer or line employee. Well done Chief Fessler and a good management decision from Larry Tarkowski.

Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Article comment by: Connie Grove

Congratulations Billy, PV is Lucky to have you.

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