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Chet Decker, Published August 02 2009

Problem in Fargo PD is the chief

In response to a recent article highlighting a survey taken by the Fargo Police Department (Forum, July 22): So, the chief says there’s no morale problem at the Fargo PD? That only shows how far away he sits from patrol.

Twelve experienced patrol officers have voluntarily left (and not retired) from the Fargo PD since Chief Keith Ternes took over three years ago. That is a huge number for a department like Fargo, which only has about 60 patrol officers.

If a department of 1,000 officers had 200 leave in a few years’ time, you can bet that would be a very big deal. The FPD continually hires, trains and uniforms new officers, which is a burden on the city budget and on the quality of policing that residents receive.

As a police officer who worked for the Fargo PD from 2004-08, I would encourage all those interested in law enforcement to work for a department that has a union. It goes a very long way toward employee rights and how the individual officer is treated, I can assure you that.

Ternes believes the department’s morale is “pretty good.” Maybe from his chair upstairs, people are happy. I can assure you that many, many patrol officers working the streets there are not, and the recent survey proves that. Of those 12 officers who left with whom I’ve kept in contact, all are much happier with their new employment elsewhere in law enforcement.

Denying that there are problems with morale and retention does a disservice to your officers and the citizens they protect and serve.

Decker is a former Fargo police officer.