August 3, 2020
Ask the Chief
Q: Could you share the statement you presented at the July 27, 2020 City Council meeting, the audio recording is not the best, and I do better being able to read it over just listening to it?
A: Chief Pohlman’s Remarks – Red Wing City Council – July 27, 2020
President Hove, Mayor Dowse, members of the Council – thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this evening.
Let me begin by saying – “I hear you!”
The relationships between the police, the government, and the people we are sworn to protect and serve is being seriously challenged.
Some of our neighbors are fearful and distrustful. They feel angry and excluded from the mainstream.
With that in mind, the Police Department is looking forward to participating in the new Policy Task Force.
We can’t fix the world. But we can commit to fix what needs fixing here in Red Wing.
And for the sake of our children and the future of this city we care so much about, we have to get it right.
As we begin that work, I suggest we look to the Constitution of the United States – and particularly to the First Amendment, which states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The people have an indisputable constitutional right to peaceful protest. Case closed.
The Task Force will succeed if we first define problems, then determine what we can agree on, engage in respectful discourse, and seek the best solutions possible in an imperfect world.
Now, I know I speak for every officer in the department in pointing out that we do not get up every morning, put on our uniforms, and head to work thinking about politics. We leave the politics to you.
Our job is to advance peace, calm conflicts, keep people safe – and by doing so, enhance the quality of life for everyone who lives here, works here, does business here, or visits here.
Of course, with 26 officers serving approximately 16,500 people – about one officer for every 634 people – we can’t be everywhere all of the time.
But we do the best that’s humanly possible.
When you call us, we will be there.
In that spirit, let me emphasize that as long as I am Chief, our department will continue its wholehearted commitment to protecting the constitutional rights of every member of our community and to community policing. Community policing works.
The best definition of community policing I’ve seen in a long time appeared in a Star Tribune opinion piece last Friday, written by a Black, retired St. Paul police officer by the name of Melvin Carter II.
You may recognize the name, because he is the father of St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III.
Here is how retired officer Carter briefly summarized the nine principles of community policing, as established by the London Police in 1829:
1) To prevent crime and disorder
2) To depend on public approval and to maintain public respect.
3) To achieve police objectives by means of public cooperation.
4) To earn public trust and cooperation.
5) To nurture public favor by means of fairness and good-faith services.
6) To always use the minimum degree of force, and only after persuasion, advice and warnings fail.
7) To recognize that police are the public and that the public are the police.
8) To refrain from corruption.
9) To evaluate police effectiveness as the presence of peace, not on the visible use of aggressive enforcement.
Officer Carter concluded by noting: “I propose these principles as irrefutable, a foundation upon which to rebuild a principled model of peacekeeping. If it’s not community policing, it’s not policing at all.”
As a side note, I invite everyone to consider taking my Police & Community Class at Minnesota State College-Southeast.
With support from our community, our business owners, and our public officials, we are making great progress in keeping Red Wing safe through community policing.
Every day, our officers live up to their oath of office, and we do our best to live up to the Peace Officer Code of Ethics, which our department recites on an annual basis and is provided to every member of our department. Let me close with one key section that I have valued most as a peace officer:
“As a Peace Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve humankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder.”
In conclusion let me just say how proud I am of our department, Clerical, Community Service Officer, and every Red Wing police officer – for their hard work, dedication, courage, and commitment to our great City.
This is what you can expect from me as your Chief of Police. Thank you very much.
1. Carter, Melvin Jr., July 24, 2020, “Define policing, once again, as a peacekeeping endeavor”, Star Tribune e-Edition. Located online at: http://e.startribune.com/…/StarTri…/shared/ShowArticle.aspx…
2. International Association of Chiefs of Police, Law Enforcement Code of Ethics. Located online at: https://www.theiacp.org/reso…/law-enforcement-code-of-ethics
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