38 SHAKERONLINE.COM | SPRING 2017 A New Mission Last fall, DeMuth assembled the department’s supervisors and asked them to help him draft an updated mission statement. “The old one was very long. No one knew it, lived it, or understood it,” he explains. “We wanted to create one that was impactful and memorable.” In the new mission statement, the words “partnership with the community” are front and center. The emphasis on education and development for officers is unmistakable. By the end of last year, the mission statement was printed and hung in poster-sized frames all around the department. Making sure everyone in the department understood and internalized the mission was the first step. The next step was to craft a hiring process that attracted applicants who were simpatico with that mission. When Shaker Heights Police Chief Jeffrey DeMuth was sworn in last year, he did so against the national backdrop of a growing anti-police sentiment and waning confidence in law enforcement. He knew that Shaker Heights wasn’t immune to those feelings. “If someone called the police and then had a bad experience, that experience sticks in their minds,” DeMuth says. “We accept responsibility for that.” He also understands that the first step to improving a relationship and rebuilding trust is to confront issues honestly and to engage in the often uncomfortable conversations that demand listening and open-mindedness from both sides. It’s hard, but necessary, he says. And it’s what’s driving DeMuth and the police department towards something better for the community and for police: adopting a mindset that values customer service and emphasizes communication, cooperation, and legitimacy over commands, compliance, and authority. The department’s goal is to ensure residents can see, feel, and know that connecting with the community -- in everything from hiring new recruits to social media postings to interactions with youth -- is at the heart of better police work in Shaker.
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