Fargo, West Fargo & Moorhead police chiefs discuss priorities for 2021

All three police chiefs say they've seen a concerning increase in overdoses this past year.

FARGO, N.D. – The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce invites local police chiefs to discuss the biggest issues they experienced.

Local law enforcement say they’re biggest hurdle has been trying to achieve their goals in light of all the challenges they’ve faced during this past year.

“The obvious division that we have in our country right now, whether that’s political, racial divide and then what certainly doesn’t help is being in a worldwide pandemic,” Moorhead Police Chief Shannon Monroe said.

Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski says says another obstacle the department has been faced with for years has been bringing and maintaining police officers.

“It’s been a challenge for many years. But it’s not only recruitment, it’s retention. And so, once we get someone in the door, if we’re not taking care of them, in order to ensure they can perform their job, we’re selling ourselves short,” Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski said.

For West Fargo Police Chief Denis Otternes, one of the challenges his department is facing is the rapid growth of the city.

“Trying to keep up with that and maintain services and making sure we’re staffing our police properly and being able to address all the needs of the community,” West Fargo Police Chief Denis E. Otternes said.

But looking ahead to 2021, Police Chief Otternes says their priority is to expand outreach programs to address their growing and changing demographic.

Moorhead Police Chief Monroe says they will be using data and other resources to address problems that are occurring in neighborhoods.

For Fargo Police Chief Zibolski, a big priority is transparency with the community.

“I’ve seen first hand how the roll out of body worn cameras can start to build community trust and in times when we have division and conflict, having that information available can help to assuage concerns or fears that things aren’t being done properly,” Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski said.

All three police chiefs say they’ve also seen a concerning increase in overdoses this past year.

Fargo Police saw 87 overdoses with 17 of those being fatal, while West Fargo saw 45 overdoses in 2020, a jump from 40 in 2019.

Fargo Police Chief Zibolski adds that they will be coming out this week with a request for proposal on body worn cameras.