All around the nation, conversations are happening about police reform. Yesterday, we took you inside the Bismarck Police Department and heard one group’s call for change.
Today, we examine the Minot Police Department to see how they’re staying connected to their community.
In Minneapolis, where George Floyd died at the hands of police officers, activists and even city leaders are pushing for its police department to be defunded, dismantled or even abolished. That conversation is not happening in Minot, but other conversations are.
“We started looking for…is there more we can do? Is there more training? Is there something that we can bring in?” said Police Chief John Klug.
Klug says his department currently participates in de-escalation training and use of force training. We took a look at every line of the Minot PD’s $10 million budget for 2020 and found that about 1 percent of that is allocated to education and training. Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma says adding to that budget line isn’t as easy as it might sound.
“We would have to find outside funding and not divert existing funding, simply because we are trying to be the best stewards of the money that we have,” said Sipma.
We asked Chief Klug what the department’s plans are moving forward and if there’s more his department can do.
“We will just continue working with the public. I’ve made myself available for a number of things now so I can be there. So I can answer questions,” added Klug.
And not only answer questions, but listen. Recently, community activist Ernest Usher sat down with Chief Klug and Pastor Tom Foisy of the Pursuit Church to discuss what he thinks needs to be done in the community.
“The thing that we both agreed on was the PD and the whole Minot police force just getting to know two groups of people,” said Usher.
One group: young minorities.
Usher added, “You need to know them by name. You need to have a relationship with minorities as much as possible.”
He says the second group they should get to know is store owners and business owners.
“Getting to know them so that they can retrain their mindset on not viewing people of minorities when they access their business of operations and looking at them as if they are going to take something,” said Usher.
Chief Klug says he thinks the Minot PD is moving in the right direction. Having resource officers in local schools, and events like coffee with a cop and the National Night Out.
“I think at this point if communities can have good conversation and talk about what the problems are and what the feelings are, that will help the whole community grow,” added Chief Klug.
Chief Klug says he is open to hearing other thoughts or concerns from the community. Mayor Sipma says the city will also look at other funding methods for more training opportunities.