The Shawano Police Department met with a select few members of the community recently in a strategic planning session, as a way for the department to plan long-term goals and strengthen bonds throughout the community.
Those that met represented a diverse slice of the community in order to gain a better perspective as a whole. The session was facilitated by a member of ThedaCare and with it, those involved learned to plan goals using the SWOT method.
“It’s looking at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and then mashing those things together, you come with some opportunities you have to make our department better and make our community better,” said Shawano Police Lietenant Dan Mauel of the SWOT process. “You go in and look at what can we do to get these goals and reach our final outcome. If you don’t know where you’re going, you can’t get there. If you do know where you’re going, you need to find out how to get there and that’s this whole process.”
Lieutenant Mauel says a threat can be anything that prevents succeeding in goals that have been set, and by using the method tactically, you can achieve the desired outcome. One goal that Mauel says the department hopes to work towards is finding ways to better engage community partners and stakeholders.
“Frankly we can’t police without our community partners because we can’t do it alone,” Lieutenant Mauel expressed. “If we can get our community more involved and engage them more, we in the long run become more legitimate. They trust us, we’re able to have people give us information when crimes happen, point out things that are going on in the community to make it more efficient and easier for the community to approach us.”
Lieutenant Mauel acknowledged that the police department does a good job already with events such as “Coffee with a Cop” or “Cone with a Cop,” as they have done in past instances, however they’d like to enhance those relationships and SWOT holds them accountable.
“I think with this process it’s a way to formalize it,” Lieutenant Mauel told. “It gives us a baseline to move forward. The facilitator actually gave us a plan of who’s going to take care of what and do it in the near future, so this is a way for making us to go forward and the community is the winner then.”
It was a seven-hour long session with a lot of engagement and learning about different perspectives. Ultimately for the Shawano Police to achieve their goal of better engaging the community, they may have to work to change community perception.
“That’s one of the things of the community is how they perceive you is probably all the time how they walk away,” Mauel explained. “If they don’t think the process is fair, then it isn’t in their eyes, and you can’t change that unless you bring it up front and show them the process is fair by listening, hearing, letting them speak, treating them fairly, and just taking the extra time with them.
According to Lieutenant Mauel, he believes that officers carry a confident demeanor, which can come across at times as arrogant, but by recognizing that threat, they can improve in the long run, which works towards the ultimate goal of enhancing community relations.
“We have a great community and we have a great police department, but you can always get better.”