As some of you may know, my father was the police chief of West Fargo until January, when he was publicly fired for his "hostile work environment" that was allegedly created for his employees. My opinion of the termination has long remained firm that other motives were behind this action. However, it was not until recent events in West Fargo that my opinions found firm ground and my suspicions were validated in the media.
In the words of Forum Communication's Editorial: "It seems city officials are purposefully choosing to keep residents in the dark on hiring what is arguably one of the most important and highly paid city positions." and "...the city announced elected city commissioners would interview the final two chief candidates in a manner intended to circumvent state open meetings laws."
It enrages me to know that city administrators have made conscious and deliberate efforts to avoid legal obligations that are meant to keep public officials honest and their constituents informed.
The vetting process for the position should be done in the daylight, fully transparent to the public. In an age where police and law enforcement are in the most scrutinized positions of their careers, the hiring process for their leader should not be one plagued with secrecy and silence. Public outreach is the greatest strength for bridging divides between the community and police. No police officer should have to endure the shame and humiliation that my father has faced due to swift and careless actions taken by city officials.
I wish the West Fargo Police Department the very best with the challenging and difficult choice of finding a leader who has the tenacity to stand up against these injustices to properly serve the citizens of West Fargo.
As the motto says, "To Serve and Protect" should be the forefront of their valiant efforts. In the 2016 Annual Report, presented by now Interim Police Chief Jerry Boyer, the organizational motto states: "The West Fargo Police Department strives to be a highly trusted public service agency that all levels of the criminal justice system may use as a standard of law enforcement performance as a result of having developed and maintained a strong core of visionary leaders and exceptionally trained and motivated personnel."
Trust is not built by meeting behind closed doors.
I know what it feels like to be a member of the family behind the badge. I have never known a moment in my life that I did not have an interaction with the people of law enforcement. From my experiences with WFPD to my experiences at the FBI National Academy, I know how difficult it is to serve the badge. These officers do not deserve this undue stress.
Furthermore, I swear that actions such as this only further push me to pursue a future in public office. I believe that public officials are meant to be altruistic in their efforts to serve the office and position they occupy. I will pursue public office to make sure that these actions do not repeat themselves in the future.
As my father would say, in the signature of every email he sent as a police administrator: "It's not about being right, it's about doing right." It's about time the City of West Fargo did right for their citizens.