This blog post is part of a series highlighting best practices in community policing by police departments nationwide as part of IACP’s Community Policing: The Next Generation project. The project showcases modern, innovative, and cost-effective solutions to crime problems and public safety issues through collaboration and partnerships between law enforcement and community stakeholders in order to adapt community policing efforts. The project is funded through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Guest Blogger: Chief Jeff Tate, Shakopee, Minnesota, Police Department
The Shakopee Police Department was extremely honored to win the IACP/Cisco Excellence in Community Policing Award for communities serving populations of 20,001-50,000 in 2015.
Like many of you, we are very proud of our police department and the fantastic work that our staff has done. We are also extremely proud of the partnerships we’ve made in the community and beyond. This is a very prestigious award, given to agencies that implement successful community policing practices. To me, this makes the award all the more satisfying to win and why we coveted it.
We put a great deal of effort into our submission. We painstakingly reviewed each question to make sure we were answering each by backing it up with sufficient evidence. We made sure to show that community oriented policing is not just a program here in Shakopee, but a way of life. The process of submitting an application was very rewarding. It made us take time to reflect on what we’ve been able to accomplish. The result was a submission we were really proud of.
Winning the award was an even better experience for our staff and community. We used photos of the award and referenced it in many of our communications throughout the year. We hung up a poster displaying the award in the lobby of the police station for all to see as they enter. We tweeted and posted our winning of the award in our Twitter and Facebook accounts. The Shakopee Valley News newspaper did a front page article on the award and the department. Several local news outlets and local e-news websites and one of the local television news stations highlighted our recognition as well. It raised the bar higher for our agency moving forward. We want to continue to live up to the recognition, and it’s been exciting to see everyone’s commitment levels improve even more since being recognized.
Community oriented policing is woven into every aspect of our department, consistently and clearly communicating this philosophy every day, both internally and externally. While we have many programs, we know community policing is not just about programs but partnerships. Our Team-up Against Graffiti (TAG) initiative is a great example of the value of partnerships and what can be accomplished through active community engagement.
While graffiti didn’t represent a large call volume in Shakopee, it consistently ranked high in citizen concerns. To take a proactive, long-term approach, we created TAG. The group secured funding through grants, donations and community fundraising at various events to purchase an anti-graffiti coating, then engaged the community and police officers to help apply the coating to frequently hit areas. The TAG initiative also educated citizens to be better observers and to support graffiti prevention throughout the community.
TAG continues to grow, thanks to all of our partnerships. Because of this, we were able to tackle our worst graffiti areas by replacing graffiti with public art and anti-graffiti coating. City and department leaders, community residents, Project Latino volunteers, and the Hispanic Advisory Council of Shakopee Parents have all helped paint and coat affected areas. This grassroots effort has seen tremendous buy-in and ownership in the community. Since starting the initiative, more than 25,000 square feet of public space has been permanently protected against vandalism, and Shakopee saw a 65 percent decrease in graffiti.
Like many of you, we are so proud of the partnerships we’ve formed and the measurable results seen from it. I encourage you to submit an application for the IACP/Cisco’s Excellence in Community Policing Award. The process itself is a great exercise for your agency and if successful, you see community pride taken to the next level. It has truly been amazing. The award for Shakopee was truly a community award, and we celebrated as a community at our city council meeting with all of our stakeholders.
I would like to encourage you to share your submissions with other agencies. We put a QR code on every handout we have about the award so everyone can see our submission in great detail. There should be no secrets, and I encourage you to share everything.