Chief details goals of police, community working together

May 16, 2011 by

Police Chief Chris Edin, giving the fourth presentation in the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series Monday evening, details what he sees as the future of his department.

When Chris Edin took over the job of Concordia Police Chief 14 months ago, he said, “It occurred to me that it was the Concordia Police Department versus the community.”

Today, his basic goal could be summed of as changing that to “the Concordia Police Department and the community versus the bad guys.”

Chief Edin, giving the fourth of eight monthly presentations scheduled for the 2011 Concordia Speakers Series, spent his time Monday evening (May 16) reviewing the police department as it existed when he arrived in March 2010, the changes he has instituted and what he plans for the future.

In the front row for Chief Edin's talk Monday evening were his wife Kristina, right, and their children Bradley and Laney.

He also talked about himself and his family, telling the 60 or so people in the audience at the Nazareth Motherhouse about his family’s adjustment to Kansas and about the importance of their Christian faith in their lives.

A veteran of 18 years in law enforcement, Edin was previously the patrol supervisor-sergeant with the Thurston County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office. He has a bachelor’s degree in business from George Fox University in Newburg, Ore., and also received an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Portland (Ore.) Community College.

In the past, he said, the people of Concordia were often misinformed about local police, the community and the police often misunderstood each other, and there were misperceptions and mistaken assumptions on both sides. Taken together, that created an atmosphere where the police department was “misvalidated,” a word he used to mean not viewed as legitimate and just. “You can’t validate an organization with your trust when there are too many negatives,” he said.

The first step in fixing that has been for Edin and his department to work on communication with the community  — through a website and social media, as well as local newspaper and radio reports and even word of mouth.

Another critical element, he said, is aggressive law enforcement. “But that doesn’t mean slamming people around,” Edin added. “It means aggressively dealing with the issues that exist in our community.”

The final element is leadership — not just from the chief, but from everyone in the department, he said. That type of individual leadership comes from teamwork and education, plus a commitment to “do the right thing” and admit when mistakes are made.

Together those elements create the department’s new motto: Integrity Driven Enforcement and Accessible Leaders, or I.D.E.A.L.

“This is really a customer service business,” Edin said. “Our customers are you, and our service is working with you to make this the kind of community you want it to be.”

But he also emphasized that Concordians have a critical role to play, too.

“I don’t want a show of hands, but how many of you know the make and model of your neighbor’s car?” he asked the audience. “If there’s a car there that you don’t recognize, would you call the police?”

Edin said those are the kinds of details he pays attention to, and he laughingly called himself “a bad neighbor to have.” But, he added, “I’d rather you call and there be nothing wrong than you not call and there be something horribly wrong.”

That’s one of the reasons the police department is sponsoring, with the Concordia Year of Peace Committee, “National Night Out” on Aug. 2. The goal is to have neighbors organize small block parties to get to know one another, he said, and neighborhood organizers are being recruited now. Anyone who wants to learn more about being an organizer for his or her neighborhood can call Edin at 243-3131 or email him at policechief@concordiaks.org

Other future plans for the department include working to revive the Explorers Post, a program for teens girls and boys, and the volunteer Reserve Police, plus creating a chaplaincy program and getting more involved in community events like Fall Fest.

Two officers have also completed training to patrol on bicycles, which give them more mobility and allow them to interact more with people on the street, Edin said. The bike patrols had their “official first time out” last Friday night, and, he noted with a laugh, “A little heads-up: These bikes have lights and sirens; they can pull you over.”

Edin is also introducing a community policing approach called the Neighborhood Enhancement and Enrichment Team, or NEET. The idea is to assign an officer to a specific area of the city so the people there and the officer get to know each other. “That creates an opportunity for officers to demonstrate their leadership, to work with the smaller community there to solve local problems,” Edin explained.

The 2011 Concordia Speakers Series is an outgrowth of the Community Needs Forums that were held throughout 2009 and 2010 and hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph. More than 100 individuals and representatives of local organizations and agencies took part in those “working lunches” to identify concerns in Concordia and Cloud County, and then work toward solutions.

Upcoming speakers in the series include Cloud County Community College President Danette Toone on June 20 and Cloud County Convention and Tourism co-directors Susie Haver and Tammy Britt on July 18.

Comments

One Response to “Chief details goals of police, community working together”

  1. Betty Suther on May 17th, 2011 4:25 pm

    A very informative talk. I appreciated the information…it will help me be more aware of the police in this town and their helpful service. Thanks Chief Eden!

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