Police Chief Works To Safeguard City
Jeff Tate has spent his entire career in Shakopee.
Jeff Tate found his calling when he was 18 years old, after going on a ride-along with a Minneapolis police officer.
“I went with a couple of cops and I was blown away,” he said. “Right then and there, I knew that (policing) was what I wanted to do.”
Tate took advice from his father, a veteran Minneapolis police officer, and accepted his first officer job offer, in Shakopee, in 1998. He has spent his career protecting the ever-growing city of Shakopee, working his way to sergeant and captain to, now, chief of police.
“I really fell in love with not just the city but also the people that lived here,” he said.
Instead of staying in his native city of Richfield, MN, Tate said it was important to take a job that wasn’t call-to-call. Rather, he wanted to follow through with cases and make personal connections with community members. As the chief, he's accountable for everything that occurs inside and outside his department.
“You definitely need to have a good balance and good vision. I’m not saying I have all of those things,” he admitted, “but I’m striving for them.”
Being mentored by the previous Shakopee police chief also helped Tate prepare for his new role. “I always say he handed me the keys to the Ferrari and I’m trying not to crash it,” Tate said.
Challenges With Growth
Keeping up with Shakopee's growing population—and its expectations—is his department's greatest challenge, Tate said. The department has a staff of only 47 sworn officers—its lowest total since 2003, Tate said.
“This is not a small town, he said. “There’s a small town feel, but this is not a small town.”
Shakopee's police blotter over the past few years has included burglaries, stabbings and murders, and Tate said he is proud of how his department handled those events. Still, the city's growth has also spawned new issues. One in particular, Tate said, is the use of synthetic and prescription drugs within the young population. That’s why the police department began its “Take it to the Box” campaign, an initiative to encourage citizens to drop off their unused prescription drugs in a safe way.
The major factor in reducing Shakopee crime, the chief said, is maintaining positive communication with the public. With new technologies such as anonymous phone texting lines and online community safety forums, the department is trying to expand its channels with the community. Most important to Tate is creating a positive environment where police and citizens can work together to promote safety.
“It starts with the people," he said. "They are our eyes and ears.”
Though crime in Shakopee will never vanish, Tate said his force is dedicated to making the city safe.
“I’d put our department up against anybody's.”