Phil Hauck, Envision Greater Green Bay Board President

Green Bay’s new police chief, Chris Davis, reported for duty just one year ago, and he’s already enrolled in our program at Envision to learn the tools, skills and mindset of Strategic Foresight. So we invited him to speak to our Envision board in October. Here are some of the main points of his presentation I thought you’d find interesting.

Police forces, just like all other groups of humans, tend to resist change. “We’re trying to get away from that,” the Chief said, just like other cities aggressively working toward progress. He explained that successful change, to have a good outcome, requires transparency: Explain the intended change, and create community discussion around it.

One specific change the Chief is working toward is a more team-based decision-making process. “Formerly police forces were run top-down, hierarchically,” he explained. “We want to minimize that by infusing mission-focused, team-based decisions.” For example, the force recently introduced new technology for license plate readers in some parts of town. Prior to the change, they had extensive discussions about privacy limitations and how they’d control the surveillance and deal with citizen reactions.

New upgrades in technology are coming quickly. We haven’t started using body cameras as many other police forces have, he explained, but we are watching the trends. We now see how body camera technology is linking with facial recognition, and we also see new technology that allows automatic transcribing of associated reports. We’ll take a close look at these potential changes.

Chief Davis explained that, while trying to focus limited resources where the actual problems are, equity requires we not be cavalier when dealing with obviously innocent people.

How is hiring and retaining officers going? “Our hiring mimics that of the general environment,” he said. “Whereas we used to have a choice of recruits, we no longer do.” And there’s turnover, he explained. When the police department hires, they’re not immediately adding to their capability. It takes a 1 ½ years to develop a deployable officer, he explained.

The Chief said his team is also working on its approach to holding officers accountable for their actions. “It’s demoralizing for an officer to be punished for an infrequent, ‘honest’ mistake or a poor decision made in the heat of action,” he said. So, instead, the Chief is using “Education-based Corrective Action.” We try to teach the offending officer everything possible about how not to make that mistake again, and then we conduct training sessions for our other officers so it won’t be repeated by someone else.

Chief Davis also mentioned a new trend that involves consideration of possible mental challenges behind some disputes. His long-term objective, he said, is that the entire force be trained to recognize such mental challenges and deal with them appropriately.
Because the Chief came to us from Portland, Oregon, where he rose to the position of Assistant Chief and had responsibility for overseeing the city’s reaction to the civil unrest protests a few years ago, we had to ask him: Is it true many of the rioters were from outside Portland? He said it was actually not as many as originally speculated, but they were aware of anarchists in the area, including pods of anarchy from Eugene all the way to Seattle. “It’s a kind of hotbed there,” he said.