Meet-and-greet with Mike Ceynowa

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Mayor Emily Larson named Deputy Chief of Patrol Mike Ceynowa the finalist for the role of Duluth Police Chief on Monday. Ceynowa, Mayor Emily Larson, and Chief Administrative Officer Noah Schuchman hosted a meet-and-greet at Myers-Wilkins Elementary School on Thursday evening. Community members were given the opportunity to ask questions and get to know Ceynowa. 

With decades of experience in a variety of roles at the Duluth Police Department, Ceynowa is excited and honored to be named as the finalist. 

“My 24 years of experience has taught me that it takes a team. This isn’t about me as the chief. This is about our leadership team. This is about our officers, our supervisors, our civilian staff,” said Ceynowa. “It’s about our other city entities that we work closely with to try to improve public safety and support our community partners who are better equipped, oftentimes to handle long term solutions that our smaller toolbox cannot fix. It’s taught me that to put together collaborative, multi-disciplinary teams to help us address issues facing our community.”

One important issue is gun violence. According to Ceynowa, the current shooting numbers are on par with last year. The type of shooting has changed slightly. 

“We’ve had several accidental shootings, which I attribute most likely to to gun owners not familiar with weapons.  We’ve had some a slight increase in our suicides, which is always tragic,” explained Ceynowa. “But our overall kind of random shooting or shootings related to a beef issue are lower than they were last year, tremendously lower. And last year we didn’t have as many accidental or suicide attempts or issues.

Although numbers are lower overall, there have been several recent shootings. 

“I’m hopeful that what we’re seeing right now is a blip,” said Ceynowa. “As an agency we will target those offenders strategically and surgically using intelligence-led policing to go after the offenders who are selling high amounts of fentanyl in our community, using illegal firearms or selling firearms illegally. Those are the people we’re going to target and work closely with our county and federal partners to do so.”

Ceynowa also strives to increase community engagement and in turn, bring more applicants to the department.

“We’re really pushing our social media sites. Additionally, I want to get back out to our different community groups and not just introduce myself but introduce our leadership team from our sergeants to our lieutenants. I want them to feel comfortable with the people who are in charge of this agency,” said Ceynowa. “I want to engage our high school or our schools to try to build recruitment and retention issues. I want to continue to work with other community groups who can help us do that to be a bridge to a top pipeline from people in our community to come work for our department and awesome.”

Duluthian Blair Powells has seen Ceynowa’s work firsthand as a member of the Duluth Citizen Review Board. 

“I think he’s a little different than Mike Tusken,” said Powells. “I’m not sure exactly what the differences are, but I’m hoping that he’s going to continue Mike’s work in engaging the community and really focusing on community outreach and including the community in the decisions that the police department is making and recommendations on what sort of programs to have, what sort of decisions to make.

For Powells, community engagement is necessary and crucial to build trust. 

“There’s an obvious lack of trust throughout the nation by communities of color of police departments. I’m hoping that he’s going to really make a strong push for building trust in communities of color and LGBTQ communities in Duluth as well,” said Powells. “And improving the reputation of the police department. Then hopefully through that, bringing a different set of people, a different kind of people into the department and raising their ranks through that process.”

Trust is one of Ceynowa’s priorities as a member of the community.

“My children attend school in ISD 709. I coach baseball in this community. My wife works down the hill at St Luke’s Hospital, so this is where we recreate as a family. This is where we shop and do all of our business as a family,” Ceynowa emphasized. “So it’s important to me that this community is safe for them, which means I need it to be safe for all of us, irregardless of where we’re from, what status we have in our community. We all need to feel safe and we need to trust that our police department is there for all of us.”