Future of Policing: Chief Ramsay, Duluth (MN)

Here is my four point vision for the future of policing:

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.

Gordon Ramsay, chief of police, Duluth (MN).


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About improvingpolice

I served over 20 years as the chief of police in Madison (WI), four years as chief of the Burnsville (MN) Police Department, and before that as a police officer in Edina (MN) and the City of Minneapolis. I hold graduate degrees from the University of Minnesota and Edgewood College in Madison. I have written many articles over my years as a police leader calling for police improvement (for example, How To Rate Your Local Police, and with my wife, Sabine, Quality Policing: The Madison Experience). After retiring from the police department, I answered a call to ministry, attended seminary, and was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. At the present time, I serve a small church in North Lake (WI), east of Madison. Sabine and I have nine adult children, eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She is also a retired police officer and we both continue active lives.

8 Responses to “Future of Policing: Chief Ramsay, Duluth (MN)”

  1. When you are talking about communication skills, cops need to keep their mouths closed and just listen and be patience when a person is talking. In his book, A Detective’s Story, George Hatherill former Scotland Yard police officer, state that when you interrupt a garrulous person, you may well shut him or her up for good. He also states that if you have the patience to listen to them, often out of the flood will ccome a particular bit of information that will give you just the lead you have been looking for. You also need better recruits who can unravel white collar, corporate complex crimes like those on Wall Street.

    What good is having better technology when you use it against law biding citizens? The police including the FBI spend more time using their technology to spy on American citizens instead of using it to fight terrorists, street crime and white collar crime. I would like to see better technology when it comes to examinng the corporate accunt books so it makes it easier to understand how the white collar complex crimes were committed.

    I am for community supported police; however, it doesn’t mean a thing when that unit is the first one to get the budget axe.

    It is nice that the Chief wants police officers to make their communities better; however, that is not going to happen as long as the police vote for politicans who want to destroy the communites plus the police continue to be a private police force for the wealthly people and corporations who don’t give a care about the country let alone the world. If you recall, the movie The Year of the Dragon, Captain White wanted to make things better in Chinatown; however, you had guys like Joey Tai and Captain White’s superiors who did not care about the people in Chinatown.

    • Yes. We have problems out there. Work needs to be done. Good men and women need to step up and join (in order to change) police. That’s what a bunch of us did years ago. Some differences were made. But it’s not just the police that need to step up, so do citizens and those who they elect to serve them. It’s all about the big picture and being able to overcome self-interest and stinginess when it comes to public policy and actions.

      • I agree but right now it is the rich people and corporations pulling the strings right now and I would not be surprise if the Koch Brothers start pouring in money to influence the city council and mayor about picking be the next police chief or supporting their own candidates to become the next sheriff.

      • Let’s hope not. Change in Ferguson will take a long time. Just to balance the police department will take years. A new chief will have to give 10 or more years of his or her life to making this happen. That’s the reality of organizational change!

  2. You also need police officers who don’t see their jobs as a steady paycheck as well or who join the police force because there were no other steady, good paying jobs with benefits in their communities. How many people would join the police force, if there were better paying jobs with better working hours and the ability to enjoy life with yourself and your families? You also need to stop or reduce the hiring people from the military as well. Start hiring people who have no military experience.

    You also need to getting rid of this “I will do whatever it takes to go home safe” mindset at the academy and in the field that the cops have plus getting rid of viewing everyone as a suspect; otherwised, don’t blame the people for viewing every cop as a suspect. It cuts both ways. Yes, cops don’t know who they are dealing with when they encounter someone; however, people have the same right to view a cop with the same suspicison because they don’t know if they are dealing with a bad cop or a good cop. You also need to get rid of this “contempt of cops” mindset at the academy and in the field.

    You should make it clear to the police recruits that if they don’t like the dangers of policing work, then they need to either leave the profession or not join the police force in the first place. Simple as that. You also need to tell them that there are occupations where people are far greater to get killed or injured than police officers.: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/08/22/americas-10-deadliest-jobs-2/

  3. “Let’s hope not. Change in Ferguson will take a long time. Just to balance the police department will take years. A new chief will have to give 10 or more years of his or her life to making this happen. That’s the reality of organizational change.”

    Unfortunately, thanks to the Supreme Court which was fill with conservatives thanks to Karl Rove and the Republican Party, corporations and rich people are going to have their say about who gets elected and/or appointed at the local, state, and federal levels including LEOs because the court has rule that money is free speech (unless you are a union)..

    A chief may give 10 or more years of his life; however, it will not mean a thing if his successors don’t carry on the work compare to your department.

  4. I’m sorry, but these nice Police Chief comments all sound like standard political tripe… it’s likely that for every extra hour of training, our police are learning how any action at all will result badly for themselves, their use of force drops 4%, because they have been taught exactly what they will suffer is they do actual policing.. better let the looters loot, the rioters riot, and lets downgrade all possible felonies to misdemeanors, so that it looks at though crime is going down, when it is not at all.
    If you want to go into Social Work, don’t choose the Police force. Foremost, law abiding citizens want to feel protected, I really could not care less for what the criminal’s home life was like, who beats me up, or rapes and kills the old lady next door…

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