Coffee with New Police Chief Dave McNeil
“Working and living in the community as a police officer has provided me with the ability to develop partnerships and relationships. As I transition into my new role, I will use all of the skills and experiences I have learned and utilized over the last 22 years as my guide in being an effective chief to the department and the community.”
Dave McNeil, Aberdeen’s new Chief of Police as of September 15, understands he’s been given an important job. That’s why each morning, fueled with a cup of strong coffee and “anything with chocolate,” he begins looking for the best possible way the Aberdeen Police Department can work to protect and serve our community.
He’s seen it all and has been made ready for the challenge. Twenty-two years ago, a young graduate from the University of South Dakota with a degree in criminal justice, McNeil hit the streets of Aberdeen as a Patrol Officer, armed with a desire for justice and a heart for service. His fair-minded approach to law enforcement, along with a self-driven disposition, got McNeil promoted from Officer to Sergeant, and later to Captain. Then, on September 15 of this year, he gratefully accepted the opportunity to put on his newest hat and become the Chief of Police.
Chief of Police Dave McNeil will put his focus on three main goals:
- Excellence in Customer Service. Chief McNeil says one of the most important concepts he’s learned over the years is that providing excellent customer service is key. This is why he’s chosen to make customer service one of his main areas of focus. “It may seem odd to use a phrase like ’customer service’ in law enforcement but it is very relevant. Customer service means that our department and staff approach each call for service or citizen contact with an attitude of professionalism, respect, and transparency with the citizens we serve. Even when enforcing our laws it is important for us to engage citizens in a way that allow the citizen to maintain their dignity during the encounter,” McNeil explains.
- Recruitment and Retention. Chief McNeil plans to focus on the recruitment and retention of new officers. “It is imperative to recruit people who are community oriented and see our department as a long-term career opportunity,” he states. A lot of time, money and on-the-job experience is required in order to effectively train a new officer. “Once a person is trained and they have gained experience in our community, I want to see that staff member stay with our agency,” McNeil adds. That’s why strengthening retention of staff is a crucial component to ensure a strong department, excellent customer service and a safer community.
- Obtaining Community Input. Chief McNeil would like to utilize the authority his new position has granted him, in order to encourage an open dialogue between the Aberdeen Police Department and the community they serve. “I plan on engaging our community and my staff in the coming months to gather input and set goals,” says McNeil. In the coming months, Chief McNeil will be researching avenues whereby Aberdeen’s citizens can communicate what they determine to be the community’s most pressing issues. In addition, McNeil plans to facilitate opportunities for the APD and community to work as a team in order to address those identified needs.