Community outreach, constant improvement among priorities of Police Department’s new leader
COVINGTON, Ky. – Like his predecessor, Covington’s new police chief began his career as a patrol officer in the city 25 or more years ago and knows every facet of both the community and the department.
That extensive experience, Chief Brian Valenti says, has equipped him with:
- A “mature” and strategic philosophy of policing that recognizes that every interaction doesn’t need to end in an arrest or citation.
- An understanding of public safety’s integral role in both the growth of Covington and its reputation as a place to live, work, and raise a family.
- And an awareness of the need for Covington’s force to constantly adapt, improve, and be flexible.
“Covington has a great department with great people working in it, and every time we go to training seminars and conferences to hear about best practices and procedures, we discover that we’re already doing about 95 percent of those,” Valenti said.
“But we always need to stay fluid – not stay static – whether that applies to deployment, training, best practices, modern technology, equipment, and everything else that all works together.”
Valenti, 50, was named police chief by a unanimous decision of the Covington Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night. He became interim chief when then-Chief Rob Nader retired Aug. 31, having served as assistant chief in charge of operations under Nader since December 2019.
Valenti said he will build off the work of Nader and previous Chiefs Spike Jones and Bryan Carter before him while adding his own touch to the department’s leadership. Among his pressing plans and priorities:
Community outreach: Covington has two community liaison officers who fulfill that role on a full-time basis, and Valenti said he’d like to expand that number as Covington’s force moves toward full staffing. “I’d like to see us get out in the community more, after we were forced to pull back during COVID,” he said.
Recruitment: Covington is authorized for 114 sworn officer positions, but only 110 of those are filled because of the high number of police retirements in recent years in the city and elsewhere. Removing officers who are in training, deployed in the military, or on long-term leave for various reasons reduces the number further to 94. “We’ve made a lot of progress, but recruitment remains a challenge,” he said. “Of course, that’s not a problem that’s unique to Covington.”
Violent crime: Valenti said police will continue to “focus on the basics,” trying to prevent and solve crimes related to violence, prostitution, and drugs.
“The three things I want to concentrate on are violent crime, community policing, and putting bad people in jail,” he said.
Keeping up with Covington’s transformation has been an ongoing task.
“The amount of growth in Covington and the changes downtown have been staggering,” Valenti said. “When I started patrolling the city all those years ago, Madison Avenue wasn’t what it was today, neither RiverCenter Towers or the convention center. That growth will continue with the transformation of the IRS property.”
Police officers and their leadership – through their dedication to protecting the community and keeping neighborhoods and streets safe, have contributed to that growth, he said.
“If the Police Department isn’t successful at what it does, then Economic Development can’t be successful,” he said.
City Manager Ken Smith said Valenti was an obvious choice to succeed Nader, given his familiarity with the job and the city’s people.
“Brian is a true professional dedicated to Covington’s department and its mission,” Smith said. “He is a quintessential Covington officer in that he knows this community and how to protect and police it, and we’re confident that with the respect he has earned over his long career, he will lead our police force well.”
With its appointment, the Commission agreed.
“Chief, the Covington Police Department is an excellent Department – it’s one that we’re very proud of and one that offers an amazing range of quality services to the people of Covington, and we’re firm believers that with you at the helm, it will continue to improve and further establish its reputation as the finest department in Kentucky,” Mayor Joe Meyer said at the meeting appointing Valenti chief.
Valenti’s first day as a Covington patrol officer was Sept. 9, 1996. Among the various roles, responsibilities, and positions he’s held since: DUI enforcement; Narcotics; Patrol, Dispatch, and Records sergeant; Crime Bureau (detectives) and Patrol commander; and assistant chief of police in charge of operations.
He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and has earned a B.S. in computer information technology and Master’s in executive leadership and organizational change from Northern Kentucky University.
“I’ve served with at least 300 officers over the years, and all of them have had some impact in one way or another on my career,” Valenti said.
At the same time, he said, he’s been careful to nurture and maintain outside influences.
“Having friends and family that are totally outside the Police Department is really important,” the new Chief said. “That helps you step out of the role and keep a healthy mindset.”