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COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS: Ensuring Public Safety and Earning Your Trust

Jun 19, 2020 08:52AM ● By Editor
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By Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen from Cook County MN - June 19, 2020

What is Community-Based Policing? According to Everbridge, "Community-Based Policing is generally defined as a law enforcement philosophy that allows officers to continuously operate in the same area to create a stronger bond with the citizens living and working in that area. This allows public safety officers to engage with residents and prevent crime from happening instead of responding to incidents after they occur."

This type of law enforcement philosophy has been around for decades and is continually being fine-tuned. This is an ever-changing fundamental strategy designed to bring law enforcement staff and their respective communities closer while building trust. As we are all aware, trust is something that takes a significant amount of time to establish and only a second to destroy. To create trust between public safety and the community, a level of respect must also be shared. Respect must be exhibited by each side for trust to exist positively so that progress can be made and constructive learning can happen. 

At the Cook County Sheriff's Office, our mission statement is, "To serve, and provide public safety with fairness and respect." Serving our community is our top priority, and serving in a capacity that is positive to everyone in Cook County is fundamental. It is instilled in the staff from the time of hire. This is important to me so that the level of service to our community stays at a high level. 

Another axiom demonstrated by the staff at the Sheriff's Office is that we treat everyone with the same level of respect as the staff would expect in a similar situation. This is an ideal that was introduced to me at a very early age by my father, who was widely respected for his fairness and willingness to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves. In my opinion, being fair and showing respect to others is a model for the foundation of any law enforcement agency. We are tasked with public safety, but the provision of that can be accomplished by utilizing excellent communication skills, empathy towards the public, and an attentive ear for listening. 

In the continued effort to achieve community trust based upon respect and fairness to others, law enforcement officers are required  to further their learning each year. Each peace officer in the State of Minnesota is required to complete 48 hours of continuing education in the form of firearms proficiency, HAZMAT (hazardous materials), AWAIR (A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction), Bloodborne Pathogens, Hearing Conservation, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), use of force, and Implicit Bias training.

The Implicit Bias training comprises 16 hours of training in the three-year licensing period for all Minnesota peace officers. At the Cook County Sheriff's Office, we have taken it a step further. We have developed and implemented our own, in-house training program for this sole purpose. We have received accreditation from the State of Minnesota to hold our training, which I have directed to be held a minimum of four times a year for all staff. This instruction for our deputies and dispatchers exceeds the state mandate by more than six times, and it is the least we can do to provide an elevated level of service to the community. 

Many employees of this office have grown up in Cook County, have families here, and are dedicated to giving their best when performing their duties. They are your friends, your neighbors and your family and will be there when you call. There is still much work to do regarding implicit bias education and translating it into a practical application. Nevertheless, we will continue to strive for this to deliver our best to the people of Cook County.

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service

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