Albany Police Chief Mario Lattanzio. Photo by William Allison

ALBANY, ORE. – As of July 1, 2013, the Albany Police Department (APD) has a new lead officer. Mario Lattanzio left his role as assistant police chief of the Mesa (Arizona) Police Department when he was chosen as the most qualified of the three candidates that were interviewed for APD’s top position, replacing Ed Boyd.

Lattanzio, 47, who is originally from Las Vegas, lived in several places while he was growing up, including Oregon. After living in Phoenix, Ariz. and completing his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, he realized that the number of jobs in his career of choice was decreasing.

Lattanzio spoke with his wife, Kimm, and after a bit of conversation, applied to the Mesa Police Department, where he started his police career in 1993. Throughout his years there, Lattanzio moved up the ranks, and eventually became assistant police chief of MPD in 2012.

During his time as assistant chief, he started looking around for police chief positions open in Northern California and Oregon. When the APD chief position came available, Lattanzio got in touch with some family in Oregon and applied for the job. He was later offered the position.

Lattanzio, his wife, and 16-year-old son moved to Oregon, less than a week before his July 1 start date, leaving a 21-year-old daughter in Arizona to finish school. Despite the major climate and cultural change, moving from a large, hot metropolis to a small, wet city, the Lattanzio family is very excited.

The Commuter was able to sit down with Lattanzio and ask him a few questions about his plans as chief.

Commuter: What are your thoughts on the police department so far?
Lattanzio: It’s a great department; there are a lot of good officers here. There are things we’re working on, just like a lot of departments, like communication and talking about a lot of the crime stuff that’s going on.

Commuter: What ways do you think the police department can be improved?
Lattanzio: Right now, I’d say a lot of it is communication. Improve the communication between the shifts, the detectives, patrol officers, and staff. That way, things are more timely, we can get more done, and be more effective.

Commuter: What do you think your biggest challenge will be?
Lattanzio: Right now, a lot of it is budget. There isn’t a lot of money here and a lot of the systems are antiquated. What they use to dispatch calls on and maintain records is old. They’ve had these systems since the early ‘90s. It needs to be upgraded, but the issue we’re going to have is trying to find the funds to do that.

Commuter: How do you plan to help the city of Albany?
Lattanzio: I’m bringing a little bit of data-driven policing here. It’s computer statistics. Basically, you look at real data, now, and try to solve problems. So what you do is take all the data that’s coming in and you map it. Then you’ll look at where on the map you’re having issues. It’s about looking at the things that are going on now and putting resources to it so we can solve the problems, and not waiting two or three months. I also want to start some kind of community policing advisory board for the department and meet with the block watch captains and neighborhood associations throughout the city and talk about crime issues.

Commuter: How do you plan to give back to the community?
Lattanzio: A lot of it is getting out and doing more community outreach, trying to help build those relationships. I’ve gone to the Boys and Girls Club, I’ve gone to one of the rotary meetings, so I’m going to pick one of the associations to belong to and be a part of the community and help give back that way too.

Commuter: Ducks or Beavers?
Lattanzio: [points at Arizona State University poster and laughs] I can’t pick either one.