Great Ideas in Policing

A preview article from the Spring 2016 edition of Minnesota Police Chief. To see the full issue: 
click here for .pdf or here for the web portal

Were we fair, respectful? Let us know

From Chief Rick Mathwig, Roseville Police Department

When one of your officers pulls someone over, takes a citizen’s complaint or deals with a victim, it’s important to know if that person felt he or she was treated fairly.  The concept’s called procedural justice. Researchers vary on its exact definition, but here’s my summation: people are concerned more about how they were treated during a police encounter than they are concerned about the outcome of the encounter.

Procedural justice is gaining steam among law enforcement thinkers after the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report mentioned it quite prominently.   

Roseville PD strives to maintain and build community trust. Therefore, we, in conjunction with University of Northwestern, St. Paul (UNW), are embarking on an ambitious project to collect and evaluate many of these interactions through a customer satisfaction survey.

We have great working relationships with UNW’s campus security and criminal justice program. I pitched them on this idea after reading about it in Police Chief magazine. The article highlighted Chicago PD’s survey project using University of Illinois Chicago researchers, We’ll be following their parameters very closely to protect our survey’s integrity. (Read the full article here:

The key points to the project:

  • Send a mailer prompting citizens to take a brief online survey about their experience during the interaction with our officers and the confidence they have with RPD.
  • The mailer goes to victims and complainants and drivers involved in traffic crashes and contacted as a result of traffic stops. That’s about 700 surveys each month in 2016. (We’ve excluded victims of domestic assault, criminal sexual conduct cases, juveniles and store loss prevention cases)
  • UNW will exclusively host the survey results and produce summary reports for us by July and a final report in early 2017.  The raw survey information is completely out of the PD’s control, helping ensure the public’s trust in the survey.  

The first round of surveys went out in January. We expect survey mailings will take an additional 1-2 hours of staff time every two weeks and can be absorbed by the current records staff. Other than an increase in bulk mailing costs, I do not see additional expenses.

UNW will publicize their involvement in the project and the data on their servers will be purged according to their data retention schedules. The raw survey data will not be subject to data practices laws of Minnesota.

I believe this will provide a better understanding of how the public feels about their interactions with RPD staff and help us take appropriate measures to improve. I have great faith that our officers are giving great customer service and this survey will help validate my thoughts, as we have a great department filled with committed, hard-working and caring individuals. That said, we are human and can make mistakes. If that is the case, we will take responsibility by studying our mistakes, making corrections, providing training and committing to improving each and every day.

Building more effective National Nights Out

From Chief Eric Werner, Maple Grove Police Department

The City of Maple Grove and Minneapolis were recently awarded first place by the National Night Out organization in their respective population divisions for their August 2015 outings. They joined several other Minnesota communities, including St. Paul, Brooklyn Park and Rochester, who also placed high on National Night Out’s list.

Minnesota Police Chief asked Maple Grove PD to share some of its strategies:

Prior to visiting the evening block parties, the Maple Grove Police hosts a centralized Kick-Off. It attracts an estimated 1,800 people, with the Chief and command staff grilling the hotdogs.

Parents and their children have the opportunity to see squad cars, various emergency response vehicles, a medical helicopter, learn about a wide variety of safety topics, and partake in numerous interactive family friendly activities. The department’s public safety partners from the public, nonprofit and business sectors also participate.

Since the department sees residents as a force-multiplier to prevent crime, it holds a pre-National Night Out meeting with Neighborhood Watch Captains and National and Night Out Coordinators. The two-hour presentation briefs current crime trends, how citizens can assist police and new initiatives such as the department’s medical drop box and how residents can use the web-based program to connect with their neighbors.

For more information about our National Night Out activities or if any agency is willing to share their information with Maple Grove please contact Community Service Officer Todd Strege at 763-494-6134 or [email protected].

Lunch with law enforcement

From Dana Pavek, Wadena-Deer Creek Schools and Chief Naomi Plautz Wadena Police Department

In between bites of his grilled cheese sandwich, second-grader Aaron Toftum quizzed Wadena County Deputy Tyler Wheeler about being in law enforcement: “Do you ever get scared? What kind of car do you drive? What’s the fastest you’ve caught someone speeding?”

Afterwards, Toftum said he really enjoyed visiting with Deputy Wheeler. In fact, the 8-year-old said
when he grows up, he might want to be a deputy or a firefighter. “Those guys are brave,” said Toftum.

It truly was an amazing sight to see students visiting with 15 law enforcement officers representing the State Patrol, Wadena County Sheriff’s Department, Verndale Police Department and Department
of Natural Resources, as Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary’s Parent-Teacher Organization hosted its first-ever “Law Enforcement Luncheon” on January 15 in the school cafeteria.

From a law enforcement perspective, this kind of connection is “vital.” Oftentimes officers in the community try and connect with youth at community events where they have to come to them.

This time, we were able to come to the youth, on their turf, at their level, just for them. We didn't have a critical reason or a chaotic call we were on when we saw them. It was just nice to sit and be among them. My sons Jacob, a third-grader, and Riley, first-grader, were there to support me. They had new white T-shirts – a gift from the Wadena-Deer Creek PTO – that read, "My Hero Wears A Badge. I Call Her Mom."

Wadena-Deer Creek parent Stacy Carr came up with the idea after seeing a similar event on a blog that provides support for families who work in law enforcement. Her husband, Cory, is the police chief for the city of Verndale and as a deputy with the Wadena County Sheriff’s Department.

Carr said when she ran across the idea, she immediately bounced it off the school’s PTO president, Alicia Wynn, who in turn, ran with it.

“It’s such a great opportunity for students to see law enforcement in a positive environment,” said Wynn, who also put together appreciation gift bags for each officer, as well as snapped photos of officers and their children who attend Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary and put those photos in a keepsake frame.

Law enforcement had a great time interacting with students too.

“It’s a great way to show kids the positive side of things. Some students might only have interacted with law enforcement in a different situation,” said Minnesota State Trooper Isaac Ray, who was thrilled to have tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with his son Joseph, a Kindergartner at Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary.

Several classes made posters, banners and cards of appreciation, which were displayed in the cafeteria hallways to welcome law enforcement.

A banner made by Mrs. Moats’ Kindergarten class read: “For all you have done and all you will do, I know I am safe because of you.”

Wynn said she looks forward to making “Lunch with Law Enforcement” an annual event. “This event is a great way for our school to say thank you to law enforcement for all they do to protect and serve,” Wynn added.

Carr said she couldn’t have been more pleased with how the first event turned out. “It was fabulous!”

For the officers, the highlight was seeing the smiling and eager faces when law enforcement officers arrived in the school cafeteria

We also loved the stories they shared with us, the questions they asked us, and just being able to forget about the ‘world’ for a little while because of the innocent company we were lucky enough to be a part of.