Superior Police Chief Talks 2021 Priorities For Department
SUPERIOR, Wis. – Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander sat down with FOX 21’s Dan Hanger to talk about his priorities for 2021, which include an increased focus on the department’s community policing efforts while investing in a virtual training simulator for officers.
The company behind the simulator is called Survivr – and Alexander says his department will be the first in the Northland to purchase the technology.
“It involves a kind of a system much like maybe the younger audience thinks of the VR goggles and the fancy gaming systems that are out there. I mean it is leveraging a lot of that technology,” Alexander said.
The goal is to get his officers facing high-risk situations on a regular basis — virtually — to help deescalate situations more effectively, ultimately lessening the chance for fatalities.
“They’ve been doing it with teaching pilots and surgeons … and one of the big things is that you can get a lot more repetitions in, in that scenario than you can in a real life way,” Alexander said. “If we want to have the best and most professional police department and police officers, then we need to invest in the people that we hire: one by hiring the right people and two by providing them with the best training and equipment to successfully do their jobs.”
And those jobs are changing as the community’s needs and wants change around a nationwide discussion of modernizing or reforming law enforcement agencies. That’s why Chief Alexander is in the process of hiring a social worker on the force to team up with officers on certain calls.
“The police get called on a lot of calls for people where the root cause is mental illness, depression, could be homelessness or poverty — getting a person connected with the resources they need to help with whatever problem, crisis, trauma they are dealing with that might be better suited outside of the criminal justice system,” Alexander said.
And it doesn’t stop there. This year some of the department’s officers will be turning into liaisons for the LGBTQ-plus community and communities of color.
“If maybe we can give them a familiar face, someone that has been exposed to them, gone to meetings, participated in events, where you establish a relationship and a comfort level where we can better serve members of those groups that otherwise might be hesitant to talk to the police,” Alexander.
It’s a year of doubling down on training and community policing to continue to evolve the Superior Police Department into a community partner, especially after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and last year’s unrest across the country involving mistrust with police.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this department. I’ve worked on it my entire career — about 24 years. I consider all of the officers, employees and civilian staff of this department part of an extended family, and I do believe they’ve demonstrated very high level of professionalism, compassion and empathy over the past year,” Alexander said.
The Superior Police Department is also upgrading its policies and procedure manual to a digital form so officers can easily access new information and get question answered fast — from an app on their phone or computers in the squad cars.
For a look at Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken’s 2021 priorities, click here.