Sartell police chief’s statement

Mike KnaakLetter to the Editor, Print Sartell - St. StephenLeave a Comment

Jim Hughes

Chief of Police

The last 10 days have been very emotional and difficult with the same range of emotions that many of you have been experiencing. The shock, anger, grief and reflection on the events that took a life at the hands of law enforcement officers have not just affected myself and the members of the Sartell Police Department, but our community as well. To be asked what we are doing to ensure the safety of all of our community members, especially persons of color, is heartbreaking to me. We have strived for decades to build a positive and trusting relationship with all who live, work, recreate and visit our community on a daily basis.

The Sartell Police Department makes every attempt to be neutral and unbiased in its delivery of services to our community members, as well as the thousands of visitors coming into our community. We ensure we have the best officers serving our community and that they place a focus on community policing every single day.

In 2016, I directed staff to review our goals and work on updating our mission statement to better reflect the attributes of our department. Many of these attributes evolved from community engagement (throughout) the years. Our mission statement, ultimately brought forward to our city council for approval, encompasses not only enforcement, but reducing fear, being progressive and promoting professionalism. At the core of our mission is a community-oriented policing philosophy that the department has instilled for decades:

“Our mission is to provide our community with a professional, progressive, community–oriented police department and to enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear and provide for a safe environment within our community.”

We have done more than adopt a new mission statement. Along with the many outreach programs we have within the department to keep our community engaged, we continue to attend trainings through the ranks, from myself to patrol officers, for crisis intervention, mental-health crisis, conflict management, mediation, and valuing community diversity and cultural differences. This includes extensive training on implicit bias.

As conflicts throughout our country continue because of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and income we need to have a better understanding of the communities we serve to provide service to them unbiased and fairly. This will allow us to help resolve conflicts that may arise. We are tasked today with more from our communities than ever before and we feel we have an obligation to assist them when possible.

Author: Mike Knaak

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