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Pohlman: RWPD in very good shape

Red Wing Police Chief Roger Pohlman stands next to the Red Wing Police Department's new vision, mission statement and values that hang in his office. Updating that document was one of the things Pohlman worked on in his first year with RWPD. (Republican Eagle photo by Sarah Gorvin)

Roger Pohlman officially took over as chief of the Red Wing Police Department Oct. 15, 2012.

At that time, the former U.S. Air Force man said he wasn't yet sure how or what he would change in the department. But now as Pohlman approaches his first anniversary in Red Wing, he said the last 12months have included plenty of new initiatives and goals for the future.

Still, Pohlman added that overall, he's very happy with how RWPD is operating.

"The department's in very good shape," he said. "I think morale is good. The guys work hard. ... Things are going well right now."

Before coming to Red Wing, Pohlman served 10 years in the Air Force and spent time in combat during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most recently, he worked for 18 years with the Grand Forks (N.D.) Police Department. There, he held a variety of positions including neighborhood resource officer, patrol sergeant and lieutenant.

Pohlman was hired by the city of Red Wing after Tim Sletten announced his retirement. Sletten had been chief since 2003.

Goodhue County Sheriff Scott McNurlin said the transition between police chiefs has gone smoothly.

"It's been very positive," he said. "Roger's done a wonderful job. He was the obvious right choice, there was no doubt about that."

RWPD and the Sheriff's Office share a building, and McNurlin said the law enforcement organizations routinely work together.

"The cooperation between our agencies is just as good if not better than it's been," McNurlin said. "We're working together more so than we ever have."

One of the first things Pohlman did in Red Wing was to conduct an extensive internal assessment. He had one-on-one meetings with every RWPD employee <\_> including investigators, officers and administrative staff <\_> to talk about how the department was operating, what should be changed and what concerns they have.

"I wanted to get a feel of how employees felt about the police department," Pohlman said. "It was really beneficial and helpful."

That survey, Pohlman said, directly resulted in a revision of the department's vision, mission statement and values. Now that document calls for the RWPD to be a "leader in the law enforcement community through collaboration and innovation," to provide a "sense of peace and security" and build partnerships with citizens and businesses, among other things.

"I am happy we redid our mission and value statement," Pohlman said.

While Pohlman used that employee survey to identify the department's strengths <\_> which include good attention to citizen needs, great equipment and a good schedule <\_> he also used it to identify areas that need improvement.

One main concern is staffing, he said. Currently, RWPD has 27 patrol officers. Pohlman said he would like the department have at least two more patrol officers, bringing it back up to 2009 staffing levels.

Adding extra patrol officers would mean more coverage and increased safety for both the community and RWPD staff, Pohlman said.

"My end goal is that my officers go home at the end of their shift in better condition or at least the same condition as at the beginning (of their shifts)," he said.

Pohlman said he is compiling research data on staffing numbers to present to the city council.

One other area Pohlman wants to work on, he said, is the department's communication <\_> both internally and with citizens, schools and businesses. Part of that is making sure officers have enough time to interact with the community.

"We need to be more proactive than reactive," he said.

Other changes Pohlman made in his first year are creating a Facebook page <\_> which allows the department to chat informally with citizens and quickly disseminate crime information <\_> and implementing black and white squad cars.

Looking forward, Pohlman said is currently drafting a five-year strategic plan for the department. That document will outline how RWPD deals with specific calls for service and how it operates as a whole.

"Hopefully we can continue to help make it a good quality of life for the people that are here," he said.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.