Forum editorial: Todd the right choice for chief
David Todd, Fargo's new police chief, offers a clear difference in management style and temperament from his predecessor. Chief Keith Ternes left almost a year ago amid low morale and widespread complaints from the ranks about his rigid, "lead by...
David Todd, Fargo’s new police chief, offers a clear difference in management style and temperament from his predecessor. Chief Keith Ternes left almost a year ago amid low morale and widespread complaints from the ranks about his rigid, “lead by discipline” mentality.
Todd, a 27-year department veteran who served as interim chief since Ternes’ departure, has understandably devoted much of his time trying to heal the department, which lost a colleague, a lieutenant who took his own life while under a disciplinary cloud.
Todd was the logical choice, having served well in preparatory roles as deputy chief and interim chief. His low-key personality – his personnel file brims with appreciations of how he helped to defuse tense situations as a patrol officer – is paired with dedication and a collaborative management style.
The police force that Todd leads confronts serious challenges. Fargo’s violent crime rate has ballooned in recent years, surpassing the national rate for major crimes, including murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
The department’s manpower, meanwhile, hasn’t kept pace with the city’s growth, even as it sees an increase in the severity of crime. Police presence downtown, for instance, seems lacking in light of the larger numbers of shoppers and patrons of bars and restaurants. Women, in particular, have noted the need for greater patrolling. As interim chief, Dodd has been an advocate for hiring more officers; as permanent chief, he will have to find a way to effectively position his officers.
Todd suspects, but can’t quantify, the increase in gang and drug activity here in some part stems from the oil boom and those who seek to profit in illegal ways from the influx of people and flow of money.
In an interview with The Forum’s Archie Ingersoll, Todd outlined some of his priorities and the approach he’ll take in leading the department.
Given the increase in violent crime as well as manpower challenges, police must work strategically to prevent crime and dismantle gangs.
Todd defended the creation of a special street crimes unit, and said it was not aimed at any ethnic or racial groups but at criminal behavior. The chief credits the unit, which targets criminals, with helping to disrupt crimes.
Since taking the helm, Todd has implemented steps to keep in touch with his officers. When able, he attends briefings. He also sends out regular bulletins to keep officers informed of where the department is going, and why.
That two-way communication will be important in monitoring crime trends and quickly responding as they emerge. Rank and file officers, for the first time, will have input in the department’s strategic plan. Todd is wise enough to know that he doesn’t have all the answers. That bodes well for the future of the department, and the city.
Editorials reflect the views of Forum management and the Editorial Board.