By Grace Kelly
Dave Titus is the president of the St Paul Police Federation, a police union. On Tuesday, the board of St Paul Police Federation screened candidates for police chief and sheriff. The board’s recommendation will then have to be approved by the membership. The Federation is critical in police politics because of endorsements. It is influential in setting internal police policy and influencing police culture. The Federation is a police union, yet it cannot strike because policing is an essential service; therefore, differences between the police union and police management are resolved by mediation and arbitration or by going through a court process. The Federation also has Dave Titus sitting on the 21 member citizens’ group that will make recommendations about who Mayor Chris Coleman should pick for police chief, with the approval of the city council.
In listening to Dave Titus, it is obvious that both the Federation and the St Paul police leadership share similar views. While Dave Titus does not favor the term “community policing”, he simply calls it “good faith” and good policing. And just from being with Dave Titus, I can assure you that Dave has that same elegant professional courtesy that so typifies the St Paul police. Both Dave Titus and police leadership agree that St Paul has a good reputation and few problems, compared to other departments. Both agree that extreme problems do have to be disciplined. Yet obviously discipline is one of the issues that Federation and police leadership do oppose each other on on a frequent basis.
By its mission, the police force must be fast and decisive. Therefore, a police organization is built as having a strong hierarchical organization led by a strong chief. In this type of leadership both the strengths and the flaws of the police chief are magnified, so a chief’s interest in fixing domestic violence will become the focus of the organization, resulting in great improvements in that area. However, even a Chief’s petty dispute with an officer can cause the rest of the police organization to also reflect that displeasure socially, causing an effect that the chief may not have intended.
A strong chief with a clear vision, clear interpretation of that vision and consistent application of the policy is needed for the police officers to feel the comfort and the confidence that they need to make split-second decisions on the street. By the very nature of a police force that has to be used constantly, the police actions are constantly being reviewed. The Federation gives a police officer the comfort of always having an advocate and being ensured a process, with a chance to tell his or her side of the story, This feeling of fairness is essential to the morale of the police force.
There are three videos. The first video covers how Dave Titus looks at unions and policing. The second interview better explains the role of the police union, the St Paul Federation. The third interview explains the current political thinking of Dave Titus as the president of the St Paul Police Federation.