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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The formula.......

What does policing need to strengthen trust and build relationships in the communities we serve? 

1. We Need the Right People
We need to better recruit and hire people with maturity, excellent communication skills, compassion, diverse life experience and background as well as a college education. Additionally, we need people who desire to make our neighborhoods better; not someone who sees their job as an occupying force,but a dedicated relationship builder who has a stake in our community’s success.

2. We Need the Right Training
Training of our officers continues to improve. Whether it is crisis intervention training for dealing with those who are mentally ill or de-escalization training or verbal skill enhancement, our officers have never been better trained. But we can do better, I recently heard of a study that found for every hour of extra in-service training an officer receives their use of force incidents drop 4%. That is a good return on your investment. Police involved shootings and improper use of force garner the most attention from our community, so we will continue to train on innovative practices to ensure our officers are trained well above national standards. We will work with all those we serve to build understanding and support for those rare instances when despite officers doing the right thing and for the right reason, things go wrong.

3. We Need Technology
Innovative technology will also help us reduce prevent and reduce crime as well as the need for police to use force. While privacy advocates and I share the same concerns about big government watching our citizen’s activities, there are occasions where emerging technology will prevent a police officer, innocent people or even a dangerous suspect from getting hurt. Innovations are occurring rapidly, so we must begin talking about technology and policing now because technology is often developing faster than good policies can be established. Technology used in policing must be shared openly with the public and vetted properly so there is a clear and legal understanding of when and how the technology can be used to keep our community safe.

4. Community Policing Needs Support
We must continue to embrace and build on community policing. My own career experience with community policing guides me today because I know how well it works. To do community policing right it requires putting the right people in the right places, having sufficient staffing, funding and training. When police build relationships with community members, community groups and our business community we solve problems and reduce crime; as well as improve our neighborhoods. I want our officers to know the business owners and employees as well as the residents in their beats. A serious use of force incident in our community recently showed strong trust and faith in our police department. This support and trust happened as a direct result of the relationships our officers have built with community members. This is what community policing is all about and it is what we will continue to build on in the years ahead.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Good things going on

There is too much focus on things going wrong in our world.  At a local level, we live in a great City where good far out weighs bad...Here are a couple of video links that are a good reminder.


Meet on the Street - Lincoln Park

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Good work you won't hear about in the news

What you won't hear about on the news, but happens every minute of everyday; great customer service by our officers. Here were a couple of the emails I received from people involved in crashes last week
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 10:34 AM
To: Gordon Ramsay
Subject: Thank you

On Monday, I was in one of the many multiple car crunches. The three policemen who worked the accident renewed my faith in humans. They were efficient, clear, had ...a sense of humor, and kind. What a great combination. Their mommas must be very proud of them.



Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2014 12:06 AM
To: police
Subject: Increment weather - thank you for helping out


First big storm and so many accidents. I was part of one of the pile ups on the 32 ave E just between Graysolon and London Rd. Probably not the worst of the day, but enough to make me shaken. I would like to say thank you to the police department and specifically officer Webster (sp?) - I hope I got the name correctly. The whole situation caused me the worst panic attack in years. The officer was very calm, cordial and checked on me a number of times to make sure I was ok. In a situation when one has no control of the car, sliding and bumping with other people/cars doing the same, it was appretiated to have the help and support. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Strategic Planning at the PD

In 2007 we conducted an internal analysis of the police department and went through the strategic planning process. We found that the department needed to do better.
Chronic staffing shortages had negatively impacted our community policing efforts. We had severely fallen behind in technological advancements. Our police facilities were literally crumbling and having a serious impact on operations.

Department members put together a comprehensive five-year strategic plan that served as our road map. The plan was updated yearly and took into account changing internal and external factors.

Our staff did such a great job with our strategic plan that it was highlighted in a national publication. We received many calls from other police agencies asking for advice.

By creating a solid strategic plan, department members, other city departments, elected officials and residents knew what our priorities and needs were. As I review our initial needs analysis and strategic plan from 2008, I am proud to say we have had significant success in reaching our goals and addressing operational deficiencies.

By communicating our goals and objectives, we were able to gain support and successfully achieve them in a fairly quick time period. Much of our success has occurred because of strong support from Mayor Don Ness, city councilors and community members. We have accomplished most of our primary goals and objectives that had been in our initial strategic plans.

We are proud of the 93 percent rating of fair, good or excellent performance we received in the 2014 Mayor's Citizen Survey. Still, we know there is still a lot of room for improvement.

It is time again to update and renew our department's strategic plan. There are a few given goals that we are working on, such as the need for a more efficient records management system and the need to stay technologically advanced. In coming months department members and I will seek input from residents, elected officials, community groups and the business community on how to improve the police department as we update our strategic plan.  Our goal is continuous improvement! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Crashes, falls and injuries

I am very proud and appreciative of our Duluth Police Officers.  Monday we had four squad cars hit while parked at crash scenes, one officer was injured after being hit and was treated and released from a local hospital (his unmarked is pictured below and sustained serious damage). Many other officers slipped and fell - one hit his head and sustained a concussion. These guys and gals have been working their tails off. Please be cautious around our officers and God bless them! I think this storm just blew the reduction in officer injuries I just wrote about.....



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Reducing Officer Injuries

Several years ago Duluth P.D. along with 17 other police agencies participated in a national study with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) on reducing officer injuries.  At the completion of the study recommendations to reduce officer injuries were made.  We are seeing an improvement and I am proud of our staff for making a positive difference.  The people at D.P.D. make my job easier by working to be the best they can be.....

I received this note from the City's Loss Control Manager this week:

I would like to congratulate the Duluth Police Department on the amazing accomplishment of having NO time-lost injuries yet this year!  I’ve included a graph below to show just how notable of a change this is.  You’re throwing off the average of the entire City to make everyone look good on our state & nationwide safety stats.  Your injury numbers, severity, and time-lost stats are way below average for a local government police department.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Surveys and Policing in Duluth

We recently received, and thoroughly reviewed, the results from the annual Citizen Survey. The City of Duluth website ( summarizes, "Residents give Duluth high marks and show satisfaction in the general direction the city is heading. Survey results demonstrate improvements in several areas, including 83 percent of residents polled approving of the city's overall quality of life. That is the highest result in that category since polling began in 2009, when overall quality of life polled only 68 percent. The overall image of the city is also at its highest results now at 78 percent, up from 58 percent in 2009. Eighty-five percent of residents say Duluth is a great place to live, up from 78 percent in 2009."
From my perspective, I noted 93 percent of the survey respondents rated contact with the police as excellent, good or fair in 2014. The number of people feeling safe in their home rose from 89 percent last year to 92 percent this year. One area of focus is our effort downtown. Those who felt safe downtown rose this year to 73 percent, compared to 64 percent last year. Drunkenness, panhandling and disorder are what primarily drive the perception downtown. Overall 95 percent of those surveyed feel safe in Duluth.

The police department uses the survey results as part of our performance measures, operational benchmarks and strategic planning. Our 2014 and 2015 priorities focus on community policing, which includes expanding block clubs, neighborhood watches and citizen patrols. Additionally our outreach to neighborhoods focusing on crime prevention and collaboration to solve problems together continues to be a priority. Our Comm-U-nity CompStat (computer statistics) meetings that began in Lincoln Park last year recently were expanded to include the Central Hillside. Meeting and building relationships with residents is what we want.

We also continue to focus on building relationships with our youth. The Duluth Police Activities League (D-PAL) began earlier this year and focuses on sports and other activities that provide a positive venue for kids and officers to spend time together. So far D-PAL activities have been a great success and we look forward to seeing it grow.

We hosted two Cops, Kids and Cars events this summer that were huge hits. This is another example where our staff and community members can meet to discuss neighborhood issues, current events or the latest with the Twins or Vikings.

One of our other major areas of focus has been crime prevention, because that is the most important aspect of policing. The most common crime in Duluth is property theft. Whether a car burglary or a theft from a garage, we know many of these crimes can be prevented. Keep your items locked up and out of view and, most importantly, call 911 if you witness suspicious behavior.

With your help, we can keep Duluth a great place to live and make it even safer. If you have any interest in being a part of a Block Club, Neighborhood Watch, Citizen Patrol or having an officer attend a neighborhood meeting at your home, please give my office a call and we will set it up.

**News Tribune Photo-Clint Austin**