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A police chief's resolutions for 2017

(Image: R. Tinsley, Duluth Police Department)

Another fresh, New Year is upon us! 2017 has endless possibilities to be as great a year as ever for each of us. Some of us resolve to lose weight, others to quit a bad habit, while others resolve to invest themselves in self improvement by taking up a new hobby, returning to school or reaching for a dream unrealized. Whatever it is, it requires focus, determination and stick-to-it-ness to make it happen. If we approach our resolutions only half-heartedly, we we will resolve to do the thing we were going to do this year, again in 2018.

One sure way to achieve your goals is to tell others your resolutions so you will be less inclined to fail. It's human nature to want to save face. So with my pride on the line, I will share a personal and professional resolution for 2017.

Personal: Just like many of you, I need to take off weight by eating better, less and having a modest amount of daily exercise. One thing tough about being a police chief is, so little of your day is yours and you need to find or make time to exercise. We all have excuses, but I have access to a beautiful gym just down the hall from my office and yet, I don't get there as much as I should! I will get on a roll, going for three months and then not showing up again for a month or more. No excuses, I need to find an hour three times a week. So my goal is for you to see 30 pounds less of me by this time next year. I have shared this resolution, now all I need to do is save a little face. (But not too much.)

Professionally, I resolve to spend more time with the staff at the Duluth Police Department. This past year I was the interim chief of police from the end of January until mid-May, when I was appointed to chief of police by Mayor Larson. During these four months I did two jobs, one as patrol deputy chief and the other as interim chief. This took me away from spending time with staff, having heavy commitments on external meetings and community engagements. This trend continued after my appointment for the remainder of the year.

With so many commitments away from headquarters and in the community, it is critical to find and spend time with your staff to hear their frustrations, challenges and accomplishments. I am blessed with very talented and capable leaders who run the department day and night. This is not a knock on them by any means. However, when I spend time with employees, I have a better understanding of the challenges we face and can help guide policy decisions. Many times the best ideas come from those doing the work.

In the hustle of a go, go, go job, it can be easy to be perpetually drawn to be the external public face of the police department, yet it doesn't take long to become a stranger to the women and men who work everyday to keep Duluth safe. While 2016 was another great year of success for DPD, we identified internal workplace frustrations and inefficiencies and created a working group to improve operations. We also held the line of crime and community safety. However, something was missing. I felt many times distant from the people inside our organization.

I missed not spending time meeting, talking, laughing and sharing my appreciation for our staff. I know my strength as a leader is to make connections with people. I look forward to hearing their stories and being accessible. I enjoy finding opportunities to offer a kind word of support or give a pat on the back.

Probably more than anything, I truly enjoy all people. I love the people at Duluth PD and this year, I make it my resolution to be intentional in finding opportunities to engage staff in a personal and meaningful way to help build a better police department.

Happy New Year to all and best of luck on those resolutions!

Mike Tusken

Contact Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken at 730-5020.