Q&A with Joe Babkiewicz

Bluffton Police Chief
March 2, 2023

Before being hired as Bluffton’s Police Chief, Joe Babkiewicz worked his way up from patrolman to captain. He took a year-long sabbatical in the private sector but was hired by the town at the end of last year to help build the community’s faith and trust in those here to serve and protect. Babkiewicz has 20 years of experience in law enforcement.

Q: What’s it like being back?
A: It’s such a great feeling to come back to the organization that I’ve been a part of for 14 years. At the time one of the hardest things to do was step away from this job, because the only job I’ve ever held outside of being in the military is in law enforcement. The step away (into the private sector) gave me an insight into looking at this organization from the outside. The company I worked for has been rated one of the top 100 places to work in the country, year after year after year. I kind of took note of what they did and some things that I can bring back to this organization so that we can be one of those top agencies in America where people want to come to and work.

Q:  Anyone   who’s   been  a  part  of  an  organization  long  enough  has their list of “things I would do if I were in charge.” Now that you are,
what’s been on yours?
A: The No. 1 priority is to have an opportunity to listen to every single one of my officers, to get an insight into how they feel about the organization; where do they want to move it or how they want to see it moving forward. We have some very young officers, and we have some officers who have been here for a while. It was really a mixed batch of information that came in, but it gave me a good idea that our next step is going to be creating a strategic plan.  Using some of the information that they brought forward, we will focus on in our strategic plan.

Q: What’s the timeline on that?
A: Our next step is to establish a steering committee to get insight from everybody. We want to have representatives from all ranks and all divisions as well as some external people. We’re going to put out an external survey soon, basically asking the same questions that I asked the officers. I’m hoping to have a strategic plan in place no later than May or June, after everything is said and done.

Q: What do you hope will be the signature stamp you put on the role of chief?
A: I want the culture of this department to be seen and viewed as a department focused on serving our community. You know the ‘protect’ side of law enforcement is always there, but people tend to forget the ‘servant’ side of law enforcement, you know? And that’s truly 80 to 90% of what we do. I want to be known as that person — that chief that sets the tone here for that.