From the look on his face, New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart had no idea why he was being summoned into City Council Chambers on a random Wednesday morning in June.
It was a moment one year in the making thanks to Lynn Needs. Needs is the Director of the Salvation Army Domestic Violence Program of West Pasco. Needs has worked closely with Chief Bogart and his New Port Richey Police Department for years.
She first told us about the Chief and how he routinely gives his police force more resources and on-going domestic violence training than most Bay Area departments receive. That is something a humble Bogart has never taken credit for.
Several community leaders told us the chief's concern for DV victims has been a game changer at the police department from the top-down. That's no small thing when you consider the importance experts place on earning a victim's trust. Care and compassion on the officer's end means more reporting by victims. Statistically only half of cases are ever reported.
On June 15th, the day of our surprise announcement to Bogart, his staff, friends, and even his uncle – the mentor who lead him into the law enforcement 40 years ago – arrived early at city hall to help us break the news to Bogart. He is the first Police Chief to receive our Taking Action Against Domestic Violence "Officer of the Year" Award, now in its sixth year. Bogart is also the first recipient outside Hillsborough County. In our first in a series of interviews with Bogart, he told us his desire to make a difference against domestic violence began when he was sworn in as a Tampa Police Officer in 1975.
“There were many times in my career that I responded as a police officer to a domestic violence case and there was only so much I could do”, explained Bogart. “There was only so much time I could spend with them and they needed help all the way through the entire system.”
Bogart later moved over to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, where he helped start a Victim's Advocate Program. In 2013, when he took over in New Port Richey, Bogart made sure his officers had the same program at their disposal and their own victim's advocate. The advocate shows officers how their compassion on the job has a positive impact.
“She has a lot of 1-on-1 conversations with officers who responded to a call”, explained Bogart. “An officer will touch base, 'hey what happened to the kids, did mom go to a shelter? I think the officers are very quick to engage the victims to seek help.”
Bogart is a hero among DV advocates at the Sunrise Domestic and Sexual Violence Center serving East Pasco county and the Salvation DV Program of West Pasco. For years, local advocates and most of his police force thought they saw the full picture of Bogart’s commitment to this issue until now. Tune in to our 1-Hour Special October 12 at 7 p.m., “Celebrating Everyday Heroes” to hear the rest of the story.