Our Program for Tuesday, March 15th was our new Police Chief Brian Tholen.  Chief Brian has been on the job now for two and a half months and said, “It’s the best career move I have ever made!”  He has 25 years of experience and was previously with the Edina Police Department serving as a patrol cop on night duty for 10 years and then advanced to Sargent and then Lieutenant.  The Chief prides himself on wearing his “Blues” on the job and regards himself as another on-duty officer 24/7!  Brian’s wife is also in law enforcement and they have two daughters and live in Shorewood.                                                                         
Chief Tholen noted that the last two years have been difficult on officers with the Pandemic and the riots surrounding the George Floyd murder and that “We can overcome that” with the support of our community.  “Crime is still illegal in our four cities of Shorewood, Tonka Bay, Greenwood, and Excelsior” and he expects his officers to be out there and visible doing traffic stops to hold people accountable.  “We will not give-in to emboldened criminals and we are fully staffed to catch and put them behind bars.”  He noted the he is O.K. with keeping some of the officers for two to three years to give them experience because the get recruited by other larger cities that can pay more or that they leave the profession because it is tough emotional work being a police officer these days.  “Police officers have the highest suicide rate of any profession” says Chief Tholen.  Mental health of his officers is crucial and his officers see psychotherapist every year (and more often if needed) and ongoing educational training not only in policing but life skills to help in coping with the high stress job.  Also they are given time to work-out because a workout helps keep them in shape, lose weight and mentally good for their health.  He smiles and says, “You are in good hands – you call and we’ll be there!”   
The Chief admits that it is a challenge today to keep and recruit officers but he feels that the wellness program and has the support of the Joint Powers Mayors Police Commission.  In fact the SLMPD is the longest lasting joint powers police department in Minnesota!  He also admits that “We can always do better especially when they are physically and mentally healthy.”  The Chief is also getting his name out there in the community and through social media because our police need the community’s support and a positive narrative about their policing.  Statistically the SLMPD has responded to 1634 calls this year and the officers are out there earning the respect of residents with quick response to service calls.                 
The Q&A was great and we went well beyond the meeting time because of great Rotarian questions and compliments of members.