Third candidate for police chief at UND holds public forum

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Jul. 23—Continuing and expanding upon the UND Police Department's policies of community engagement is a key component to building trust with the community, said the most recent finalist candidate for UND's chief of police position.

At a forum on July 22, Eric "Harry" Smith, the third finalist for the head law enforcement position and associate vice president of public safety, said increasing the community's trust in law enforcement is something every police department in the nation needs to improve. To do that, Smith outlined a number of ideas from creating a dialogue with historically underrepresented groups to having officers participate in certain lectures.

"I am passionate about community engagement, community policing," Smith said. "We all talk about it a lot in this profession, but I'm passionate about it."

Smith said UND is not deficient in creating a place where people feel safe, but building community trust is not a destination, it is a continuing process, and can be reversed in an instant. To illustrate his point Smith, in a powerpoint presentation, showed the now infamous photo of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis resident who was killed when a police officer kneeled on his neck for an extended period of time.

To continue to build community trust, Smith said officers could establish a dialogue with members of underrepresented communities. Diversity, equity and inclusion, he said, are "critical components" of policing.

If hired, Smith said he intends to continue initiatives like Coffee with a Cop, a 10-year-old campaign by law enforcement agencies across the nation to build community relationships. Relationships, and the opportunities to deepen them, are what attract him to university policing. Every year, a new class graduates and a new class enters, expanding those opportunities.

Smith, like other candidates, said retention of officers is a problem, and recruiting those officers can start at UND. Officers need to make sure they represent the school well, even off duty, as each contact with a person could be an opportunity for recruitment.

Smith said he would like to see UND's police department become accredited through the International Association of Campus Enforcement Administrators, an agency that works to ensure best practices in the industry.

Smith spent 26 years with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in Oregon, retiring as a captain. During his law enforcement career, he also served as chief of police for Fairview, Ore. he has served on numerous task forces, including terrorism and internal affairs.

Smith holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Oregon and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is also a graduate of the Oregon State Sheriff's Association Command College, and the Oregon Executive Development Institute.

The final forum for UND's chief of police will continue on Monday, July 26. People can attend in person at UND's Education building, room seven, or watch online.

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