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Monday, June 30, 2014

Community Policing

I studied community policing extensively in college and have embraced it throughout my 21 years in policing. My all-time favorite assignment was that of a community police officer in the Central Hillside and downtown areas. I still have many friends in my old beat and know who owns many of the properties and who lives where. I went on to supervise the Hillside as a community policing sergeant and commander. When Mayor Bergson appointed me chief in 2006, he said my strong belief and success in community policing and strong relationships with many segments of our community played a major role in my selection.

Community policing is a guiding principle of the Duluth Police Department. The Office of Community Oriented Police Services defines community policing as “a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder and fear of crime.” While we don’t throw the often-overused phrase “community policing” into all of our efforts these days, the practice has been infused throughout our entire department.

We continue to build on our history of being a community-oriented policing department. Earlier this month, Officer Tom Sewell successfully got the Duluth Police Athletic League (DPAL) up and running. The concept behind DPAL is to build meaningful relationships between cops and kids as well as prevent crime. If the kick-off event was any indication on the future success of DPAL, the future is very bright for this initiative. DPAL hits at the heart of the community policing philosophy. I could not be happier to see this program driven at the ground level.

We have been an active partner in the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI). By collaborating with JDAI, the courts and Arrowhead Regional Corrections (and other entities I’m sure I’m forgetting) we have lowered the number of kids getting locked up at the juvenile detention center. JDAI research reports, “Detention is a crucial early phase in the juvenile court process. Placement into a locked detention center pending court significantly increases the odds that youth will be found delinquent and committed to corrections facilities and can seriously damage their prospects for future success.”

When I worked in the juvenile bureau in the ‘90s, we had twice as many locked up as we do now. Juvenile crime continues to decrease. I look back and realize we may have made things worse, in some cases, by locking kids up. This is an example of how important partnering and applying new strategies with other criminal justice entities can make our department and community better for all involved.

Problem-solving is a key component of community policing and is a performance measure we look at daily, literally. We set threshold reports and are notified when properties exceed a certain number of police calls during various time periods. We work closely with property owners and managers to eliminate crime and disorder to ensure safe neighborhoods. While, like anything else, 99 percent of our property owners and managers do a great job of taking care of their properties and problems, a small, select few continue to push limits and create problems for our neighborhoods.

Our officers focus their time on the problem properties. I can think of many, many residential units in years past that were literally out-of-control crime havens. Today, we only have a handful of larger residential properties that are problematic. Officers working on the problem know who and what the problems are and are working diligently on solutions.

Community policing is alive and well in Duluth. I could write volumes about how community policing is ingrained in our everyday policing efforts. It simply is how we operate.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Silly Outfit?

I worked Grandma's Marathon for a while Saturday on the police bike and was dressed accordingly. Before I left home that morning my seven year old daughter looked at me in the police bike uniform, shook her head back and forth, laughed and said, "Why are you wearing that silly outfit?"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Citizen Police Academy 2014

I met with our Citizen Police Academy (CPA) Class last night and gave a short "chief's speech."  I was involved with the CPA since we initiated the first class in 1997.   I've coordinated or been involved one way or another in most of the classes and I've found it one of the most rewarding things I've been involved with.  There is not a better way to build relationships and reach out to those we work for. Thank you class of 2014 for your interest in DPD! 

Here is a link if you'd like more information on joining our next class.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Great Headlines!

I'm so proud of our officers! Here are news headlines from today that should make our entire community proud of the men and women in blue:

Duluth Cops Reach Out to Kids (WDIO)

Duluth police group hosts a day to make friends with officers (DNT)
Duluth Police Launch New Program to Build Relationships with Area Youth (Fox21)
DPD brings nationwide program to Twin Ports; Bridges gap between cops and kids (KBJR)

 THANK YOU Officer Tom Sewell, other DPD staff and sponsors who got the Duluth Police Athletic League going!!
Duluth News Tribune Photo/R King

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


While heading home last Friday night I stopped next to Lake Superior Liquor (First Street and First Ave East) because of an increasing amount of disturbances, fights, drug dealing and drinking on the sidewalk. Three highly intoxicated and well known problem people who I have been hearing about at our COMPSTAT meetings were passing around a 40 ounce bottle of malt liquor in a paper bag. I watched from a distance as their drunken and obnoxious behavior caused people to cross the street to the other sidewalk so they did not have to walk past them. 

Now you can drink alcohol on your own property, but you can't drink it on a public sidewalk here unless there is a special event. What I saw in this instance is why this ordinance exists; our community expects better behavior and it hurts commerce.

I cited the three for drinking in public and sent them on their way. The drinking in public fine has not increased since the mid 90's and I'd like to see the fine amount raised on this violation. Higher fines and accountability to citations make a difference; we have seen it with other violations. Before I Ieft that block a nearby property owner stopped to thank me for doing something about the problem.  


Friday, June 6, 2014

Sharing our Good Work

I like to share compliments about our staff because of the good work they do every minute of every day - that you would never hear about otherwise. This note I recently received is an example of what motivates cops. Simply said, this is what it is about:

 Just want to say that I am very impressed with Officer DeJesus. He was at my apartment (at about 3:30am) when I reported a theft. At 8:30pm he spotted my car and pulled it over since he knew it was not me driving it. Your officers were all very nice and got hugs from my granddaughter because she felt safe again. Thank you so much for all that you and your department do to ensure the safety of all of us.