Minnesota police chiefs meet with federal agent to improve community policing

Police chiefs from across the metro came together on Thursday in Minneapolis to discuss ways to do their jobs differently.  Leading that discussion was the man in charge of the federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide.

"We are now amid a new civil rights movement in this county,” Ron Davis, Director of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) with the U.S. Department of Justice said. “The question has to be what role are we going to play in this movement?”

Davis spoke with chiefs and law enforcement administrators about the recommendations that the president’s task force unveiled earlier this year -- A total of 60 recommendations spelled out in a 116-page report. 

“These recommendations allow law enforcement to take a fresh look at our fundamental responsibility to serve and protect,” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek.

It includes everything from reducing emphasis on statistics and incarcerations, to putting a much larger focus on community relations and public trust.

“We have a very unique opportunity to redefine public safety in our democracy so instead of always looking at public safety as reducing crime, which is very important, it also has to be the presence of justice,” Davis said. “So, how we fight crime matters as much as the crime reduction. And they go hand in hand.”

In the year since things unraveled in Ferguson, there's renewed emphasis on the community policing philosophy.

“Officers are frustrated in large part by the national dialog we are painted with a broad brush because of a few incidents,” Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate said. “There are officers in this state that are doing fantastic things all throughout the state.”

As Davis points out, from politicians to the public, many are seeking some sort of change.  Instead of being oppressed, the recommendation from Washington is trust and encouragement.

“If we can get on the same course and understand it's about serving our people, making the community a safer place, and providing a sense of connection -- because sometimes that sense of connection is what's missing and we need that,” Davis said.

To view the full 116-page report, click here