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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Experience Counts, Paul Hoppe Running for Washington County Sheriff Gives Clear Answers on Transparency, Crime Mapping, Sex Offenders, Felons Voting, and More

On the ballot in Washington County this fall will be the election to replace former sheriff William Hutton who retired. Paul Hoppe, the director of public safety for the city of Wyoming for the last 9 years is running for the open seat. He's lived in Washington County his entire life, been in public safety for 27 years, worked in the Oak Park Heighs PD, Washington and Hennepin County Sherriff's office, with the FBI, and more. All this information is out there. What's been missed by the local media is how important it is to elect a sheriff who will address the issues effectively with proven experience and specific ideas. Things the other candidate can not and does not offer.
See: 90% of Starry for Sheriff Campaign Donations Are From Special Interest


Key to a successful county sheriff is communication, transparency, and approachability. With over 40,000 followers to the social media pages of the Wyoming Police Department Hoppe oversees, one could say he's writing the book on it. The benefits of this outreach and his leadership are best explained by Paul Hoppe in his responses below.


Topics discussed are:
-Specific ideas to get tough on child rapists and sex trafficking
-Web based crime mapping he uses so residents can look up real time to see what's happening
-"intelligence based policing" with a Records Management System (RMS).
-Reporting data to the public in easy to access and meaningful ways
-Field technology to drive better outcomes
-The use of social media to inform residents and how it solves and prevents crime
-How accepting union money influences ability to serve the public
-Felons (like convicted sex offenders) voting
-and more


At Washington County Watchdog we rarely cover candidates for office because they don't usually offer anything someone would consider better than the opponent. That, and the fact the local media usually does a decent job letting you know the details on their work history and the vague campaign promises to be "fiscally responsible, transparent, and help the community." But every so often there's a person who shatters the mold and enters into a race without the hollow promises; has a proven track record; has a focus for the real issues; and proven ways to better the current system.


Below are questions the moderators at Washington County Watchdog came up with to ask Paul Hoppe. We thank him for his time and openness to share. His responses are in Bold font and some highlights of his responses are edited to large font by the writer. The text of his responses are unedited. Photos added are by the writer alone.

Interview by Matt Behning.


1.) The media hasn't done you justice in their articles. It wasn't until we heard your interview on the Up and At 'Em Show (starting at about 47 minutes in) that it became apparent your not an average textbook leader in law enforcement. It seems many rate
success in numbers of arrests or tickets issued. You said that your PD in the city of Wyoming doesn't have ticket quotas and that you rate success in the number of problems solved and the number of problems that can be prevented. What are some tools or practices you use to see this through?


 One of the management philosophies I use to evaluate performance is “intelligence based policing”, which is data driving analytics that help us identify trends by examining data so we can be proactive and allocate our resources more efficiently and effectively.  The core to data analytics is a robust records management system (RMS) that tracks calls for service, names and addresses associated with calls, activity our employees are involved in, vehicles, evidence and crime reporting requirements and transparency to our community.  A state of the art RMS helps identify people or properties that are becoming problematic so we can intervene early to develop solutions that prevent future problems. By effectively extracting good data from our RMS we are armed with more reliable information to make informed decisions on how to director our employees’ time and efforts to reduce criminal behavior by predicting crime trends.  


Improving field technology, and business practices to better collect the data that goes into the RMS will improve the information we extract from the RMS to improve the data we use to make informed decision.  In 2011, I worked closely with Chisago County to successfully implement such a system which has proven to be instrumental in refining our performance expectations and how we do business; and as result we see better outcomes with more effective solutions.        


2.) It appears communication with residents and open sharing of data such as crime reports are effective in the public safety department you mange. Your department's face book page has over 9,700 followers who appreciate seeing everything from the arrests made to the funny posts about setting up a marijuana sting with chips leading into a live trap. It appears to be a great way to keep the public informed while at the same time growing a positive public perception of law enforcement. Is this something we could see from the Washington County Sheriff's social media if you were elected?


If we want to improve community trust we have to become more transparent.  When we originally launched our social media efforts it was with the intent of improving community trust and engagement by humanizing the law enforcement officer. Our department was one of the first nationwide to implement a new tone on social media which was less institutionalized and more engaging, we wanted our public to see us more as guardians than worriers. The results of our efforts have improved the sense of community between our residents and our Police Department; every day we have someone approach our officers on the street and strike up conversations. With more than 40,000 followers on our social media platforms we are one of the most followed police department in the state, and one of the most approachable.  


We use the power of our social media to promote public service announcements, partner with other departments to spread important information, build programming partnerships with our businesses, and seek the communities help in solving crimes.  We have experienced a nearly 80% solvability rate when we post requesting the assistance of the public in creating leads to help us solve crimes. The partnership between the police and the community is absolutely imperative when it comes to preventing and solving crimes, and our social media engagement is a proven example of how successful the partnership is.  If elected as the Sheriff, it will be my intent to continue thinking outside the box for new and innovative ideas that improve our service to the community, and the use of social media will be part of those efforts.

3.) Many people under-appreciate law enforcement and have a false perception of security until they are impacted by crime.  In addition to your department's popular facebook page, your PD participates in "https://communitycrimemap.com/." The site shares where local police action is taking place. (in addition to where some sex offenders are located). Can you expand on this technology? Do you think this could be used County wide by the Sheriff's department if you were elected?


In 2015 we launched our web-based crime mapping so the public could be easily informed about the police activity happening in our community and within their specific neighborhoods.  Each day we push our crime data to a web-based platform that allows residence to see our police activity by location and crime type, on a daily basis. The crime data is represented on a map, and residents can click on represented incident to get the public call data.  The mapping is completely interactive so the viewer can control which data they want to see, and zoom in on a specific neighborhood.


No longer does a resident have to wait for the weekly paper to come out to see what’s happening in their neighborhoods or be limited to only those crimes the paper chooses to report on, or make a formal records request that may take days to respond to; instead the information is at their fingertips with just a click of the mouse.  Our community members see the officer working in public, hear the sirens in their neighborhoods and want to know if it is something they should be concerned about. We also want to reassure the public the officers are working hard on their behalf and our online crime mapping can answer all those questions. I believe its import to keep the public informed and today’s technology makes it easy to accomplish. An informed public can be a valuable resource when it comes to community policing.


This is all part of my initiative to improve Washington County’s field technology, and improving transparency.   

4.) It's admirable you're not seeking or accepting union endorsement like your opponent, it leaves behind big labor campaign donations; but it shows your support can't be bought. Do you have anything to add about how not involving unions in your campaign can translate to a better Sheriff for the residents in WC and to the officers you'd oversee?



I believe it’s our responsibility as leaders to insulate our employees from the politics of governing so the deputies can focus on serving the community rather than serving the interest of an individual.  The Sheriff has a direct influence on the career path of the employees who report to the position, the position has the authority to promote, and assign job duties; I believe putting pressure on the employees, whether direct or implied, put the employees in a tough position knowing their response could affect their career path. To ensure the integrity of the Sheriff position, I believe there should be a distinct line that should not be crossed, and the responsibility to define those lines is the responsibility of the leadership and the Sheriff position specifically.  


I want employees who are focused on providing exceptional service to our community, not worrying about how a political endorsement will affect their career. When we insulate our employees for the candidacy process, we can eliminate political influence from the career path decisions and base those decision on merit. As a result, we start to focus on getting people in positions for the purpose of improving the organization, translating to improved organizational effectiveness which equates to better community service.  


I will continue to seek the support of the residence of Washington County, rather than seeking the endorsement from the labor unions our groups that sole represent the employees of the Sheriff’s Office.


5.) You acknowledged in your interview on the Up and At 'Em Show that Child sex trafficking is a top concern in Washington County along with the Opioid epidemic. As many know dozens of men a year are arrested in the child sex stings in WC and there's a big concern with child sex crime here. Do you have an approach to deal with this issue? Whether it's raising awareness by sharing arrests; advocating for funding from the over $220 million in the County budget; or pressuring the legislature who hasn't passed a law to increase penalties or monitoring of child rapists in two years.


Washington County Attorney’s Office has done a great job of spearheading the sex trafficking and human trafficking initiatives, I intend to continue partnering with them on these issues.  I believe improving awareness is the key to impacting these crimes, a significant number of these victims are solicited into the trafficking industry by skilled manipulators. If we can improve the awareness, educate at risk victims or those closest to them, we can identify potential victims early and get them the necessary resource to prevent them from being preyed upon.


The internet has increased the sex trafficking industry, by expanding the access to these crimes.  I believe we need more significant penalties on those trafficking online and legislation that shutdown online sites that engage in human trafficking with more significant penalties to those online providers hosting these adds.  


We also need to develop a robust digital cyber-crime lab capable of extracting the necessary evidence to effectively investigate and prosecute perpetrators involved in sex trafficking activities.  


6.) The last Sheriff in office supported voting rights for released felons like the over 20,000 convicted sex offenders not in prison in MN. He urged the County Board to write a political letter asking legislators to change MN law to let felons vote. Many felons get their voting rights restored at the completion of their sentence. Do you support changing MN law to allow felons to vote too?


I don’t believe the Law should be changed.  I believe the felon should have to complete the entire sentence before their voting rights are restored, not just the incarceration time.  The post release disposition of continued parole, probation or stayed sentence is part of the debit to society. The debit hasn’t been paid until the entire sentence has been served which includes the stayed, probation or parole period.  The right to vote has a directing correlation on the laws that are created, part of restricting their right to vote limits the felon’s impact of selecting the individuals who have an impact on creating law. When you violate the current law, you should lose your right or at least have them suspended, to select you creates future law while the felony is serving a sentence for violating current law.  


7.) What else would you like to tell our readers about why they should vote for you?


I was born and raised in Washington County, raised my kids here and I want to ensure we have the right person leading the Sheriff’s Office to ensure our future generations have the same opportunities to raise their kids in the same majestic place.  This will require a proactive, visionary leader willing to challenge the cultural norms in search of better ways to serve our community. As a proven innovator, and effective leader experience matters, with 27 years in law enforcement, over 9 years as a current Police Chief / Public Safety Director, a Master’s Degree in Police Administration and graduate from the FBI National Academy, I have assembled the necessary experience to lead the Sheriff’s Office into the future.  


Our elected Sheriff has retired and this year you have a choice as to who will represent your voice in Law Enforcement.  I would be honored to serve the residents of Washington County as the Sheriff, I ask for your vote on November 6th; because "Proven Leadership" means a secure future.


Check out Paul Hoppe's website for more information:

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