West Fargo PD Leaders Get Reviewed: Janke Expands the Department

In his first 100 days, Chief Heith Janke is restructuring the leadership workflow and adding new positions

WEST FARGO, ND — Leaders of the West Fargo Police Department were anonymously reviewed by employees.

This about four months after Police Chief Heith Janke replaced former Chief Mike Reitan who was under fire for creating a hostile work environment.

In a request for more sergeants from the city of West Fargo, Chief Janke outlined the department’s faults.

“We set a record high last year for our calls of service,” he told the city leaders. “We’re going to eclipse that this year. We’re on pace to hit about 28,000 calls for service coming into our police department.”

The growing pains of a “city on the grow” are being felt.

Janke told leaders the average police response time in the city went up by 90 seconds in the last three years: 90 seconds which could mean life or death.

With a unanimous vote, the city agreed to add seven new positions to the department.

One is a cultural liaison position meant to help better connect the city with new Americans.

The leadership workflow is getting restructured to make the department more efficient and improve response time.

“24-7, there will be at least one sergeant out on the street all the time,” West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern said. “He has met with everybody in that department one on one. He knew coming in that there had been some morale problems and I think he’s on the right track of fixing those problems.”

Earlier this year, former Chief Mike Reitan was let go.

“A hostile work environment is not tolerated within this police department,” Janke stated.

He started using anonymous surveys, allowing employees to comment on their leaders.

The new chief received no harsh reviews, but problems with a few sergeants were identified.

Results of these surveys were released to the public: something Janke was not happy about.

“Next year, I won’t be able to do that because employees won’t feel comfortable because now they know it’s going to be released to the media,” he explained. “It’s great that the public can see that. But it just means in future years, it’s not going to be as effective.”

When asked if they are proud of the police department, it seemed almost all who were surveyed said yes.

These questions were to be ranked on a scale of one to five, five meaning “strongly agree” and one meaning “strongly disagree.”

“I am proud of the West Fargo Police Department,” has an average score of 4.26.

“When considering the promotions made over the last three years, I believe they were appropriately made based on merit and ability,” came in with an average score of 2.29.

This was an issue addressed in multiple anonymous comments.

“I feel my co-workers are supportive of me,” had the highest average score, in at 4.71.

Janke told us this survey strategy was effective during his time in the FBI.

“The leadership survey is a tool to help leaders become better,” he explained. “It’s asking your subordinates, ‘what are my strengths and weaknesses,’ then I come up with a plan to help them improve on that.”

Written reviews of the new Chief praised his outsider perspective and drive to move the department forward.

One reads, “I think you are taking us places. Thank you.”

“We are headed in the right direction,” Janke said. “We are one united team moving forward. The past is in the past.”

Chief Janke added he wants to keep improving work relationships among metro police departments to help keep criminals off of our streets.

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