Duluth Holds 2nd Community Meeting as Part of Police Chief Search

DULUTH, Minn. –

With Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken set to retire next week, the process to finding his replacement is ongoing.

That includes hosting community meetings to give the public a space to share their thoughts.

Around a dozen people took part in the second of these meetings at Portman Community Center July 26.  That is more than who took part in the first meeting at Harrison Community Center July 20.

At each meeting, people got their chance to speak face-to-face with city and police leaders about the current state of the Duluth Police Department.

“I heard from people who were talking about their very specific neighborhood,” says Mayor Emily Larson.  “They’re worried for their neighbors.  They were talking about some specific concerns and specific example on how they utilize and either felt safe with the police or would have needed more information.  We’re here to hear people’s really personal stories about their public safety.”

Mayor Larson says most people she had heard from approve of the majority of approaches the police department is taking when it comes to dealing with crime and public safety.  Tuesday’s meeting showed that is not always the case.

“Tusken’s done a great job, but I do have certain areas that I would like to see better,” says Mark Brandt.  The property manager for locations on the east side of downtown says he would like to see a larger focus on the drug task force to reduce crimes connected to drug use, as well as a harder hand when dealing with people who break the law.

“More arrests, more punishment, more taking the petty things seriously,” says Brandt.  “Currently stealing a package of your mail that is valued under $500 is a ticket.  You can’t get arrested for that.  The amount of fist bumps being handed out rather than tickets or handcuffs blows my mind, and I’m left having to pick up the pieces.”

Other topics that people brought up at Tuesday’s meeting included current crime trends, how officers deal with mental health calls, and hiring and keeping officers on the force

Applications for the new chief are being accepted through the end of July.  Mayor Larson says she won’t review any of them until the deadline to apply passes.  “I know we are getting candidates that see and understand that this is a really special community, and are ready to continue with that brand of developing community trust.”

The next chance the public will be able to take part in the hiring process will be when finalists are brought in for interviews.  That could happen as early as late August, but is likely to happen in September.

Mayor Larson has selected Deputy Chief Laura Marquardt to fill in as interim Chief starting August 1.  She will hold that position until a permanent chief is hired.

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