Our Rotary Program on Tuesday, September 1st was South Lake Minnetonka Police Department Chief Mike Meehan.  The Chief gave a captivation presentation about our communities’ police department and didn’t hold back any punches.  He reported that the department had now increased to 16 officers this year and there were three recruits in training.  Unfortunately there has been a 25% turnover this year and more turnovers next year.  However, over all the culture was good within the department. 
The Chief hit the main topics straight on and started with the pandemic protocols and noted that the department is practicing safety to the personnel by wearing masks and safe distancing where possible.  On medical emergencies the police may stay outside unless needed by the medics.  The chief talked about the current civil unrest and that the department is currently in the planning stage with other communities to deal with civil unrest.  The SLMPSD will protect its citizens and their property while protecting peoples 1st Amendment Rights to protest.  However in police work there are many independent variables and anything can happen in a heartbeat as we have seen in the past year.  All of the officers take part in a 40 hour training program in Crisis De-escalation and the department has been doing this for the past 5 years.  This is a huge commitment of time and resources but absolutely necessary for officers using the best practices of restraint and Body Cams since 2017 ensures a record of any active calls and the videos cannot be altered and are saved according to MN State Guidelines.  Our police are also following all the MN Police Reform Legislative Requirements.
Chief Meehan moved on to talk about the Joint Powers Agreement that sunset in 2023 which serves Shorewood, Excelsior, Greenwood and Tonka Bay.  Each of the Mayors sits on the Police Commission and makes policy and funding decisions.  Renewal of the JPA is political and financial and two of the Mayors are not seeking re-election which further complicates the coming negotiations that will start in 2021.  At that the Chief opened to Q&A which was most enlightening and we were able to hear from the police’s perspective what we don’t hear in the media coverage in current unrest.  The Chief noted that recruitment is more difficult due to current view of police by the public causing reluctance to go into law enforcement and the competition of larger cities for the best candidates because of funding and benefits.   
That being said he feels that we have attracted some really good new officers and that the SLMPSD enjoys great support from the community.  The Chief feels that the public is not getting the most reliable information from the media and one only needs to look at the booking reports to see what is at root of the unrest and that Defunding is frustrating and in the end the police are called to handle the toughest incidents where Social Workers wouldn’t go near and that 99.8% of calls are resolved without violence.  It was a good discussion and great to get the Chief’s perspective on the issues facing law enforcement.  Ben Franklin probably said it best, “Men’s opinions are like their watches, all are right but none are the same.”
After thanking Chief Meehan President Kate took us through some Club business including that she will send the results of the Club Survey to all the members as we will Zoom our meetings through October, Karen Frazier will contact members we have not seen on Zoom to see what is going on with them and also to get them technical help if needed; that the Board approved a grant for $2,000 to Resource West for Warm Hearts and Hands and Christmas gifts for Teens.  We will have a Highway Clean-up on Tuesday, September 22nd at 9:00 AM and sing-up on-line to kfrazier@usjet.net; and Social Gathering at Excelsior Brew on Tuesday, September 29th at 5:00 PM.  Steve Frazier gave a golf update – The on-line Rotary Auctions starts September 1st – 15th at BirdEase.com/rotaryclassic/ and we have 117 golfers and need 27 more and members can sign-up online at BirdEase.com/rotaryclassic/.
President then reviewed the upcoming calendar of events:                                                                                                                                                                                         Sep 01, 2020 12:00 PM - Chief Meehan, , South Lake Police Department                                                                                                                                                           Sep 08, 2020 12:00 PM - NO Member Lunch Meeting                                                                                                                                                                                         Sep 15, 2020 11:00 AM - Rotary Golf Classic at Deer Run, NO Member Lunch Meeting                                                                                                                                 Sep 22, 2020 – Highway Clean-up at McDonalds at 9:00 AM                                                                                                                                                                                   Sep 29, 2020 – Club Social at Excelsior Brew at 5:00 PM                                                                                                                                                                                   Oct 06, 2020 12:00 PM - Jill Holter’s  “Get to Know Me”                                                                                                                                                                                    Oct 13, 2020 – No Member Lunch Meeting                                                                                                                                                                                                           Oct 20, 2020  12:00 PM - Tom Gump - District 5950 Governor