Updated: February 23, 2021 06:08 PM
Created: February 23, 2021 05:17 PM
After the Duluth City Council approved the addition of a third deputy chief for the Duluth Police Department in Monday's meeting, concerned citizens weighed in on their thoughts to this and what they hope comes out of the role.
The council passed the ordinance 9-0, which is required for any charter amendment. Duluth Police Public Information Officer Ingrid Hornibrook said they are removing a lieutenant position through natural attrition and that position will instead become the deputy chief position.
Jamey Sharp, a concerned citizen who spoke at the council meeting Monday and is affiliated with LEAN Duluth, which stands for Law Enforcement Accountability Network, a grassroots group that gathers data on police agencies in the Twin Ports, said a big focus he wants to see is police accountability.
"We think that it's very important to engage the community and engage statistics and real data and while they're doing that, being transparent about it. Our hope is that this third deputy chief might be able to do the work that we did as concerned citizens," said Sharp.
Two deputy chiefs that DPD currently has are in charge of three divisions: patrol, administration, and investigations. The third deputy would take on the administration division, which focuses on professional standards, policy development, recruitment, and public information.
Community members expressed concerns surrounding racial bias and racial disparities in policing.
"I spoke last night about data that we collected about use of force incidents in 2019 with the Duluth Police Department. In 2019 African Americans experienced use of force at a rate more than 19 times that of whites. While Native Americans experience force at a rate more than 10 times that of whites," said Sharp.
"My hope is that this new deputy chief will reach out to the large number of organizations in this community that are committed to fighting for racial justice particularly within the criminal justice system. I also want to know how this new deputy is going to address the culture within the police department," said Veronica Surges, a co-chair of the Duluth NAACP criminal justice committee.
Surges said she and others want to see those use of force numbers change.
"Now is the time for change. We have unprecedented support of police reform and unprecedented support to finding ways to address inequities within the criminal justice system," said Surges.
DPD Chief Mike Tusken issued a statement saying:
"We are committed to embracing change and continually focused on innovation and the evolution of the Duluth Police Department. The work of the administrative division is more critical today than ever before. Having a deputy chief solely dedicated to the administrative division means we can continue our journey of continuous improvement to meet the expectations of our community.”
DPD said additional details on the role will be released later on this week.
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