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FPD Chief Applicants Emphasize Relationships

Five law enforcement officers who applied to be Fairbanks’ next Chief of Police appeared at a public forum last night. They had already been vetted by consultants and interviewed by a community panel. At this public forum, they were asked questions mostly written by the Fairbanks Diversity Council, which focused on learning about diversity in the community.

Each candidate was given a list of 12 questions they might be asked the day before the forum. Each was asked the same two and a random third question.

They were asked about accomplishments and challenges in addressing diversity.

Todd Richardson was born and raised in Fairbanks, and is now a Deputy Sheriff in Beaver County in Utah.

I moved into the office of Sherif, and we had zero communication with our public. The ability for us to do our jobs correctly, really wasn’t there. So I implemented several programs. Just to give you an example: citizens Academy. And we were able to bring people in, from all walks of life, and build it up. And in 2015, we won the national citizens Academy award for the United States.”

Koula Black is a police major from Mocksville, North Carolina, who talked about the diversity outreach programs she developed while working in addiction treatment.

“I immersed myself in the local culture, I attended civic meetings, churches, youth groups, and slowly and surely, I learned that the minority community did not feel that they had a voice in our police department. And because they didn’t feel that they had a voice, they didn’t feel like they could trust us. So, that relationship started to grow and build and we didn’t have riots and we didn’t have looting -- we had conversations. We had peaceful protests, where these minority groups reached out to the chief and I, not only to invite us to participate, but to speak at these events.”

Ron Dupee was born and raised in Fairbanks and is the acting Deputy Chief of Fairbanks Police Department. He answered the question first talking about that police force.

“The most challenging, departmentally, is getting our department to look like the community it is serving. The Area that I am most proud of regarding diversity within our department is, starting next Monday will have a total of five female officers working at various levels at FPD. This is the largest number of female officers that we’ve had on staff at one time.”

Then he answered the question talking about himself.

“When starting a law enforcement career, you tend to develop an us versus them mentality. Early in my career, I felt myself falling into this pattern. I worked hard to self reflect and make sure that I was treating everyone equally and how I perform my duties.”

Richard Sweet is the acting Chief of Fairbanks Police Department. He reflected on his experience as a Community Police Officer interacting with homeless folks.

“What I found out was, although, I’m sitting there thinking, OK, this is a great, thing to do and you’re being visible., With some of the transient population was thinking was that I was checking up on them you know figuring out a way to arrest them. And so the miscommunication there was just not understanding on our part on my part, what I saw as being affective, was not being received as the same way by the people that you are interacting with.”

Derek Bos is the Chief of the Police Department in Brush, Colorado.

?“Trust between law-enforcement and the various pieces of the community, and why is there a lack of trust. It concerns me that that’s been kind of a focal point of this hiring process. So clearly there’s a problem. My goal would be to try to rectify that and rebuild trust between the police and the community the root of this is relationships. As you build those individual relationships, you begin to build trust. And then you have trust between the police and the different cultures combine together we are the community.”

More extensive biographies are published on the City of Fairbanks website.

The Diversity Council met in a closed session after the forum to decide on a candidate to recommend to Mayor Jim Matherly, who will hire the new Chief of Police.