James M. Kaplan, Fargo, Published July 13 2013
Letter: Now Forum goes after police chiefI see that now that The Forum has finished with Hamid Shirvani, it’s starting in on Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes (“Morale at all-time low,” June 30, Page One).
I can say from my own personal experience that Ternes is receptive and open to input, even from a citizen. I made a suggestion to him that he found useful and that he implemented.
The article doesn’t make clear who made the complaints of which Ternes sustained 20 out of 28. But often the citizenry feels that the police can ride roughshod over people and that the police protect their own from being accountable.
The fact that Ternes sustained 20 out of 28 complaints I take to mean that he wants to maintain a culture of accountability, where officers have to watch themselves and treat people and their job with respect. That is a good thing for the police force and for citizens. In any large bureaucracy, there is intrigue and there are malcontents and then people who just plain want a change. It is completely normal and even healthy for people to be coming and going.
It is very easy to point fingers and find fault, but recently here in Fargo I witnessed a quite different aspect of the work of the Fargo police. I noticed a large police presence around a home in my neighborhood. There was a young couple living there, and the activity centered around them. They were distraught and crying. There was a man with them, an older gentleman wearing a dark blue polo shirt with a Fargo Police patch on it. He spent a lot of time talking to them, comforting and counseling them. This was the chaplain of the Fargo Police Department ministering to some people in great need. The couple’s baby had died. So while the police were doing their job of investigating the death of the infant, the police chaplain was comforting these young people.
I think that this is an aspect of Ternes’ leadership, humane and compassionate, that should be acknowledged.