Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Chief chooses the door

Photo by Mel Zierke, from Faces of Change

Last week PRPD Chief Scott Fox told his employer he would be retiring at the end of March. One would hope that, in addition to selling his expertise as a multi-cultural consultant, Scott is choosing the door in order to go home, write his memoirs and watch the river flow. Best way to do that would be to start a blog. We do realize that the Chief never takes words written on these pages seriously. The decision to step down was not an easy one for sure. Wish Scott well when you see him.

From Faces of Change by Joan Jarvis Ellison:

The Bosnian immigrants were very fearful of the police because in their home country when the police showed up at your door, many times you didn’t come home, you just disappeared,” said Police Chief Scott Fox. Lots of people ask Scott about all the problems with the immigrants. “What problems are those?” Scott asks them. “The biggest problem we have with anybody who is non-english speaking is to be able to communicate.”

Fox grew up in Pelican Rapids and joined the force in 1978. “I saw the immigration process start when I was a child,” he said. “It happened so gradually, there was just this change of faces and nationalities on the street. It happened day by day by day.” First there were Asian kids in the school, then the Hispanics began to stay, to buy homes. Then came the Bosnians and the Somali.

Scott credits his Chief, Greg Ballard, with setting the tone for how the town dealt with these immigrants. “Greg recognized the importance of winning over each of the different nationalities, and treating them fairly,” Scott said. “He told us, ‘If you get invited to a birthday party and you’re on duty, go in uniform, make an appearance. It’s community service work.”

Scott talked over the background chatter of the police scanner. “It could take us 45 minutes to take care of a problem. You would go to the house, you would be invited in and the men would sit at the table and the women would make coffee. You would have coffee and then you would push aside the cups and take care of the problem you were called in for. “ As police officers, they had been trained to go in, handle the situation and get back to work as quickly as they could. “Now we were told to take as much time as we needed.” Scott continued. “It was just the greatest public relations thing, because people would see you on the street and they would know you by name. There wasn’t the fear. They knew us, they respected us, and they trusted us.

“We still do it to this day,” Scott said, “we take the time and get to know the people.”


RGE said...


Wooly said...

Best wishes, Scott! Thanks for many, many years of volunteering in so many ways for our Special Olympics team! Between fishing and hunting, don't forget us!