The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership

TCD Podcast Ep 46 Chief Dave Norris, Session 1, Menlo Park, CA Police Department

November 01, 2021 Chief Dave Norris Season 2 Episode 46
The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership
TCD Podcast Ep 46 Chief Dave Norris, Session 1, Menlo Park, CA Police Department
Show Notes Transcript

David Norris is the Police Chief for the Menlo Park, CA Police Department.  He had a long career with the San Mateo Police, rising to the rank of Captain.  An east coast, Boston area transplant, Dave played baseball in high school and college, and later played in minor league baseball with affiliated teams for the St. Louis Cardinals after being drafted as a pitcher.   

In his new job, he has faced a reduction in force due to Covid budget cuts.  In a candid and wide-ranging chat, we talked about police culture, leader development and community outreach.  

[00:00:02.690] - Intro

Welcome to The CopDoc podcast. This podcast explores police leadership issues and innovative ideas. The CopDoc shares thoughts and ideas as he talks with leaders and policing communities, academia and other government agencies. And now please join Dr. Steve Morreale and industry thought leaders as they share their insights and experience on The CopDoc Podcast.


[00:00:34.050] - Steve Morreale

Hello again, everybody. This is Steve Morreale. I'm here in Boston, and today we have an East Coast -West Coast discussion. I have the privilege the honor of talking to David Norris. He's the chief of police in Menlo Park. Hello, David.


[00:00:47.490] - Dave Norris

How are you, Steve?


[00:00:48.390] - Steve Morreale

Doing very well.


[00:00:49.050] - Steve Morreale

Thank you.


[00:00:49.290] - Steve Morreale

And I really appreciate time difference in working with me. But, I want to explain to the listeners how this came to pass. And I encourage those of you who are listening and who are getting anything out of the podcast to not be afraid to reach out to me. It's happening more and more. And at one point in time, David, the chief out of Menlo Park, had reached out and said, hey, I love what you're doing, and I'm using it, and I'm suggesting other people listen to it.


[00:01:11.910] - Steve Morreale

So I'm very grateful for that, David. But what was most important is I said, why don't we get on the phone and see what happened? And the next thing you know, we've been in touch quite often, so thank you.


[00:01:20.490] - Dave Norris

Thank you. And I have to tell you, Steve, I'm incredibly flattered and excited to be part of this. I've listened to a number of the folks that you have on to be even peripherally part of that group is  incredible.


[00:01:32.610] - Steve Morreale

Let me extract from you thought you have been very complimentary, and I appreciate that. But I also honor the difficult job that you have as a chief of police and mentoring and motivating and leading people who are willing to risk their lives in law enforcement and certainly the rest of the staff who support the police Department very integral parts, but I appreciate it. But what are you getting out of it for my own edification, what are you getting out of listening?


[00:01:57.690] - Steve Morreale

Why the hell you keep listening?


[00:01:59.250] - Dave Norris

So there's two things, mainly the first of them is kind of the way I marketed myself in the recruitment process for this Chiefs job, which is to say I'm coming from the position of a captain and another agency. I will be a rookie chief coming in. But I have a strong network around me, and every chief is only as good as the network around them. And so who you have that you surround yourself with, who you're connected with, so that even if you can't solve problems yourself, every problem, at least you have the ability to reach out and ask someone who, you know, can help you solve that problem.


[00:02:30.810] - Dave Norris

So part of it is having that network. And when I'm listening to a podcast like yours, and I know that there are people who I've had interaction with, like Dr. Fritzvold and Renee Mitchell, and having read a lot Dr. McCabe's work in preparation that I get a sense of validation and that's the second part is listening to these podcasts and the things that I'm thinking about and that I'm wanting to put into direction. I'm also hearing that reflected in the voices of people who have some expertise that you're talking to through the podcast.


[00:03:00.990] - Dave Norris

So for me, it gives me that dual sense of not only am I connecting myself with the right people, but as I'm generating these ideas, other people are thinking about these same ideas, and these are people who are well established in the business. So finding those common threads, I think, is really important.


[00:03:15.510] - Steve Morreale

Thank you.


[00:03:15.930] - Steve Morreale

So I jumped right into asking a question without asking you to tell us about yourself. But I'd love you to tell the listeners about your background, how you ended up in California, because I know that's a story. That's how we first started. So tell us about yourself and how long you've been the chief here and where you were before, what drew you to law enforcement in the first place.


[00:03:31.590] - Dave Norris

So, yeah, the journey out to the West Coast has been an interesting one. I was born in Cambridge, Mass. Not far from where you are. So born into an East Coast environment in the home, grandparents and at least my mom. My dad has a little bit less of an accent but who speak the same way that you do, which is one of the reasons that I enjoy listening to you over there on the East Side. But we moved around a lot in my youth. We probably moved 15 times or so.


[00:03:56.190] - Dave Norris

My dad was working not for the government but in state government relations, and so jumped around to a few different companies. So I lived on the East Coast for a short period of time and grew up mostly in the Midwest, Ohio and Kentucky. Graduated high school in Kentucky, started College in Ohio. My folks moved to the West Coast, and I followed them and finished up my College career on the West Coast. But all throughout that, I was playing baseball up through College and then got drafted at the end of my College career by the St. Louis Cardinals organization, played a couple of years of minor League ball, and so I also bounced around all over the country playing baseball, played in the Kansas Jayhawk League in the Midwest. I played in upstate New York whereas connected to and played in the south. And this is all really important in terms of being born in for me, because I've played ball with people from all different walks of life, both locally and internationally, who come from wide variety of social economic backgrounds. And you learn to create kinships with those people through that sport.


[00:04:54.510] - Dave Norris

And that has turned me into the kind of person that when I connect with somebody, I try to connect with them in a way that I've already known them for a year before I even connect them. And it helps you to bond quickly and be genuine and really connect. So that's what got me out to the West Coast, the law enforcement thing. It started in a funny way as well. And so I had my College education was premed. I ended up with biology, psychology, split bachelor's degree, wasn't sure what I was going to do originally.


[00:05:21.330] - Dave Norris

The idea was medical school. And then after my short baseball career, I decided I didn't want to go back to the level of expense and was in medicine. My mom happened to be looking for new work at the time. She's an ad at the city of Santa Taylor at the time, police service aid, which I think we mostly call community service officers. Now, non swarm position evidence collection is one of the primary pieces of work that they did. And she said, Well, you have a science background.


[00:05:45.570] - Dave Norris

They send you to a two-week evidence technician school. Is this something that you might be interested in? Get your foot in the door of forensic? And so I originally started out as non sworn, and that put me in parking enforcement, riding around in a little cushion.


[00:05:58.170] - Steve Morreale

Oh, the Cushman. I remember that, too.


[00:06:00.570] - Dave Norris

And part of that position was parking enforcement evidence technician. And then some police reporting, like, non-suspect reports out on the street. And for those, they would pair you with a regular police officer, field training officer, Corporal in the organization at that time. And so I'm riding around with these corporals, and they're looking at me and they're like, kids, what are you doing? You are six foot 5262, 70, and you're riding around in a white shirt, no gun, no cuffs. You need to be one of us.


[00:06:26.790] - Dave Norris

And right now, you're just doing this chalking tires thing like you need to take the police officer test. And so I fell into a little bit of the peer pressure with that, I took the police officer test. Ultimately, what I found in starting my law enforcement career was that the scientific method that I was used to from school and investigative process of working your way through a criminal investigation. They weren't identical, but they were very parallel to each other. And once I discovered that I was somewhat off to the race, took off from there.


[00:06:54.990] - Speaker 2

But what I really found my most satisfaction was as a field training officer. I knew that I wanted to train, but I didn't understand what the value was. And as soon as I understood what the value was of giving back everything that you've learned in the policing environment that just caught fire for me. And from then on, it was, how can I do this in more volume? How can I give back to a greater number of people? Well, the only way to do that would be to promote to Sergeant.


[00:07:16.770] - Dave Norris

Right. So then promoting the Sergeant and working with probationary officers - thrilling, incredibly satisfying. And then it was, well, if I was writing policy, then I would have even more of an ability to pour myself into the way that our culture operates. And so that started to climb up the ranks into command. Now it has become this mentoring and coaching, bringing people up who want to move into those same types of positions and provide value to the organization with what they order.


[00:07:44.670] - Steve Morreale

So describe, you're now the Chief, still talking about San Mateo, describe the two towns, but describe them for people who have not been out that way. Right now, you're in the Silicon Valley, right, where a whole bunch of things that we touch every day, technology and apps and computers and computer programs all emanating from there.


[00:08:03.090] - Dave Norris

Right. So San Matao County in general, and city of San Mateo is one city out of many within San Mateo County. But San Mateo County in general, very high on prices, very high cost of living, but also has a spread. The socioeconomic spread. There are still small pockets of communities that are majority minority communities involved in some levels of crime, gang violence, some at risk and in need communities. The cities of San Mateo and the city in Menlo Park are similar in the sense that they both have that breadth of socioeconomic conditions.


[00:08:38.370] - Dave Norris

So there are parts of town where you're talking about multimillion-dollar homes, people who live very comfortably, and you have beauties where it's mostly rental and apartments, and some folks who are from outside of this country who are trying to make their way, other folks who are native to this country who have significant socioeconomic needs and lower income than their colleagues only a few miles away. And so you really have to pay attention in both cities to making sure that you're serving the entire city. And based on there are some parts of town where the socioeconomic conditions are a little bit lower.


[00:09:10.950] - Dave Norris

The relationship with the police is a little bit more strained. They may not want to see police around unless they really need them. And then there are other parts of town where if the police were coming down the block twice an hour on high profile patrols, they would have no problem with that. And so figuring out how you make that work is really a big deal. But the difference between San Mateo and Menlo Park, San Mateo is about three times the size. So it serves about 100,000 people.


[00:09:32.250] - Dave Norris

It's about 115 sworn police officers. And the city of Menlo Park serves about 34,000 people. And we have about 44 sworn officers. And one of the things that's different. And I keep hearing, listening to your podcast and others. And what I keep hearing about is on the East Coast, when you have a city of, say, 50,000, you might have 100 to 150 police officers. But in some place like Northern California, where the cost of living is so significantly higher, your ratio of officers per $1,000 is much lower.


[00:10:01.350] - Steve Morreale

Isn't that strange? You would think it would be the other way around, right? Because of the affordability, the tax base and all of those things. But you have a lower ratio.


[00:10:08.550] - Dave Norris

We do have a lower ratio, and we do business a little bit differently. The other thing that is really difficult about this particular area is in San Mateo County. For a new officer who is brand new young single, they can generally find ways to live here on the Peninsula. That's not too far of a commute for one bedroom or a studio apartment where they don't have a lot of needs. But as soon as they start getting into relationships and expanding their families, the housing here on the Peninsula is really difficult for the average police officer, even though they're making plenty of money, they still can't afford these multimillion dollar residences.


[00:10:40.410] - Dave Norris

And so we have officers who are commuting sometimes an hour, sometimes upward hours to get into work. And so I know that you guys in these podcasts have talked about the lengthy schedules to twelve hour schedules and how they can grade on officer fatigue and other factors. But a lot of the teams here have a two team system, four days on four days off, twelve hour days, so that our officers can enjoy those four days off uninterrupted with their families, as opposed to the work days where twelve hour day plus an hour and a half commute each way or an hour commute each way makes for a very short rest period in between.


[00:11:15.030] - Dave Norris

So it would be pretty difficult out there, given the value of homes and that are out of reach for so many public employees, not just police. It sounds like it would be virtually impossible to impose a residency requirement or a 15 miles from the border.


[00:11:30.570] - Dave Norris

Right. We have found that it would be very difficult to do that and makes for an almost impossible recruiting situation. But that also, I think, begs for us to look at the flip side of that, which is a lot of communities are looking at workforce housing and forcing some of the local developers to include workforce housing in their picture so that we can bring educators and public service workers and first responders closer to these environments that they actually work in. So we need to pay close attention to that and be supportive of that.


[00:11:58.890] - Dave Norris

So other people that I've talked to who are looking at police agencies and staffing have made a conscious effort to separate sworn from non-sworn and create non-sworn positions in support of police departments. Is that something you've seen at both San Mateo and Menlo Park? Obviously, you were a community service officer or whatever the title was. So is that something that's more pronounced in California?


[00:12:24.090] - Dave Norris

I think it is, and I think it's coming in waves and I think you're right. I think that's something that is on the increase locally. And one of the things that we talked about. And so I didn't get into what Mellow Park has been through in the past year. But in early 2020, as the city was experiencing the impacts of the pandemic as other cities were, the city made a decision to make significant budget cuts, and we went from 52 swarm to 44 Swan as part of a pandemic.


[00:12:50.490] - Dave Norris

Was it through attrition?


[00:12:51.570] - Steve Morreale

It was not. It was pink slips, and it was really hard on the organization. And as you can imagine, you experienced something like that. Then the murder of George Floyd happens a couple of months later, and all of a sudden, the conversation really takes on a whole different tone. And so, like many cities that suffered at a significant cut like that, we're wondering when or if we're going to see some of those numbers come back where previously we would say, well, the economy is better. And here we are.


[00:13:19.650] - Dave Norris

And we're looking to rebuild where we cut back because of budget. The conversation is different now. There are other factors involved. And so as you look at it, you go, how much of this can we look at as a right-sizing of the agency? How much of this can we look at as a need to rebuild? And how are we going to create the background and the support for whatever change we decide to try and move this Department forward. So we made a very modest ask. At least I felt like it was a modest ask return of two sworn officers for this coming fiscal year. And I asked for two non-sworn officers to rebuild that non-sworn response, reduce the need for an armed response by police, which is answering some questions that our public has and then ask for a records person. And we can talk about the Racial Identity Profiling Act that's coming in California. That's actually already here. For some larger agencies, it's going to create a big burden on records.


[00:14:13.050] - Dave Norris

So I asked for a records person to build back into our profile to accommodate that. And of those, five Council wants to have significant conversations about reimagining policing, reimagining, public safety, police reform, et cetera, before they want to authorize any additional positions to our Department. So they gave us the records person because they know we're going to need it, but they're holding back on the others. It's not a hard no, but it's definitely we're going to hold back on this because we want these conversations to take place.


[00:14:38.850] - Steve Morreale

What begins to happen, and it sounds like you are in the midst of it. Here you are a new chief. You're still on your honeymoon. You have inherited a Department, and now you're telling me that you inherited a Department that has suffered some losses of personnel, and yet you have a mission to accomplish. So let's talk about you about leading the Department, about you coming in from the outside, how you had to prove yourself, how you've had to listen to understand what's going on. So that collectively, you as the leader of the organization, can go and I guess sell ideas.


[00:15:12.990] - Steve Morreale

But you can't sell ideas just with your two lips. Seems to me you have to have a plan. You have to have something in writing. You have to say this is how much it will cost. This is the benefit. This is what happened. So talk about that. Did your time at San Mateo help you in that regard in terms of writing a plan, developing policy? You said you had done that and having conversations. And David. And by the way, we're talking to Chief David Norris, who is the chief now in Menlo Park, California.


[00:15:37.590] - Steve Morreale

And we appreciate him being here. We talked about you walking over and talking to your boss and to talk about being proactive, I suppose, and having the opportunity to control your own destiny as opposed to having your destiny dictated to you. What kind of conversations are you having outside with your boss as you're trying to maneuver the organization?


[00:16:00.390] - Dave Norris

Well, there's a lot of significant talk, and before we get into that, I'm going to get into what have I done in the last couple of months? And the pandemic actually really worked to our advantage. The first couple of months that I was here in the office and then the fact that things have opened up in California now put me in a position for several weeks of my tenure here. Being out in public was not as much of an option because there were a lot of controls that were placed because of the pandemic, and I couldn't hold the public kind of public meetings that I might like to hold to really listen.


[00:16:27.750] - Dave Norris

There were some one-on-one meetings that I had that were very informative, but I was able to put my focus into what I think is a really important first part of an incoming chief job, which is I sat down and had conversations with every member of the organization, sworn and non swarm. We set them for 30 minutes meetings. Most of them ran to 60 minutes. I asked my assistant, who helps with my scheduling to schedule them for 30, but leave a buffer of another 30, and almost all of them have gone the full hour to really learn what's happening in the organization.


[00:16:57.630] - Dave Norris

Obviously, this is a department that received a bit of a gut punch in the last year with the significant drops in numbers and wanted to know what's working well.  Where do we feel like we're getting along? Okay, but where do we really need to satisfy the internal members of the Department with some sort of address or improvements? And the reason that I say that does speak into the greater conversation of how you move an apartment forward from a situation they've been in. It has to happen organically. Steven, you're exactly right that you have to develop what I call Champions within the organization, people who understand what that concept is, where to move that concept and who are going to say, hey, the chief makes a good point here and saying to the person on the right person on their left and pushing that agenda for you because you're right, it cannot come from your own two lips.


[00:17:40.050] - Dave Norris

It has got to come from within the organization. So really sitting down and listening to understand internally first was a big first step. And now that the economy and the public has opened up a little bit, started to do coffee with the chief. In fact, I'm doing one this afternoon where I'm putting myself in each of member park is divided into five distinct districts. Each district elects a Council member. And so I'm trying to make sure that I'm hitting all of the neighborhoods and all the districts so that I can listen to everybody because each district has its own personality and its own people.


[00:18:06.690] - Dave Norris

And so that's where you start. And then the conversation that I had that we were talking about a little bit earlier that I had with my city manager was one of the great things about getting started in April of 2021 is that there's a lot that's been done by a lot of people leading up to this. And so there's a lot of information out there we talked a little bit about you had a guest on from Ithaca, New York, Dennis Naylor, who talked about the reforms that are happening in New York, that the governor essentially set a mandate out to ask individual agencies to create reforms.


[00:18:37.290] - Dave Norris

And so there's a lot of framework that's been set up by different agencies. I know that. I think Illinois also had a similar situation where they got together as a group of Chiefs and said, These are the things that we're looking at. California Chiefs Association is doing something similar. So there's a lot of good framework out there. And hitting on those points in the framework is a great place to start. We're avoiding a little bit of full writing of a program and a full budget because what has not happened yet in this jurisdiction and did happen in San Mateo, where I was over all of 2020 was conversations with the community, getting some good feedback, providing, lifting the veil a little bit with the community and saying, These are the programs, and these are the things that we're doing.


[00:19:16.770] - Dave Norris

And a lot of times the public doesn't know what the police Department is doing. And some of those things that the department's doing are legislated by the state, and they're exactly what the public wants. All they know is what they're hearing on the national narrative, which is a clamor for the things that some of these States have already put into place and really showing the public what we are currently doing that is working and heading in the right direction, showing the public what's coming in terms of legislative changes and policy changes that we can do to make things better and then showing public what are these future facing things that are not so much pie in the sky that there is a practicality to it that we can really do to make this job different in the future.


[00:19:53.190] - Dave Norris

It's kind of those different sections to the plan.


[00:19:55.650] - Steve Morreale

So I presume you're a lifelong learner. You consider yourself a lifelong learner. And how are you having the discussions? And I understand what you've done. And I also would guess that perhaps the people that you sat down with sworn and unsworn were curious about you were interested in having a voice and very often half hours. I can tell you that the more I'm doing these podcasts and I'm watching the time of 27 minutes and we haven't even scratched the surface. And so what's happening is that I'm breaking them into two sessions because there's so much to say.


[00:20:27.450] - Steve Morreale

But I think that the moment you begin to ask people, what do you think? I know I've had this conversation. What are you proud of? What are the obstacles of doing the job? How can I help reignite your passion in the agency? How can we turn this or improve what is already a good Department? Those kinds of conversations had to have happened. Is that right?


[00:20:44.910] - Dave Norris

Absolutely. So the great advantage that I had my first day on the job. The first thing I did was, as I was coming in, was I looked at the schedule. We talked about four on four off an 18 and a B team. We have two distinct patrol teams. Well, as it happened, Monday was one team's day four and Tuesday was the other team's day one. So I had back to back 16 hours days where I stayed because we work six to six and six to six. Those are the two teams.


[00:21:10.770] - Dave Norris

So 06:00 a.m. to 06:00 p.m. Hitting both of the briefings on both of those days so that I could get the bulk of patrol, introduce myself a little bit and ask some questions. And fortunately, I have within this organization some people who are not apprehensive about asking good questions and letting me know kind of what the flavor of the organization is. And so there were some themes that were immediately developed before even had these one on one. And some of those themes were communication. The Department really wanted more communication, both from what's happening with city Council to what's happening at the decision making level within the city organization in the police department, and just a more consistent thread of what is actually going on. And so that was something that was a consistent theme that many people were talking about. The other was the ability to have variety. When you remove 20% of your staffing, you also remove certain specialty options, because, as you know, patrol is the backbone. Right? So you have to kind of collapse down and focus down. And so we were missing a traffic unit. We were missing a street crimes unit. And so officers are looking at that, especially the bulk of our officers, who are two to five years in experience.


[00:22:14.970] - Dave Norris

We're looking for some variety. How are we going to get the variety in this organization that we look at other organizations, maybe next door, and they're getting more variety. So there was a clamor for that as well.


[00:22:24.690] - Steve Morreale

So do you find it necessary to not operate in a vacuum, but to let people know what you're thinking about? Because that's one of my pet peeves. I think in many cases, if we, as leaders, could say, hey, everybody, this is what's on our plate. This is what we're thinking about. We would welcome your feedback before a decision is made, right. But you've got to plant that seed first, right?


[00:22:44.610] - Dave Norris

Absolutely. And I'm glad you asked this question because it triggers another thing that is consistent here at this Department. So we have officers, as I said, are in that kind of two to five year range. We've got a good number of officers who have been here around four years. In those four years, they have had four different police Chiefs. Wow. They had a police chief who was at the end of a stint that was about five years long, another chief who was there for about a year and a half, two years, and then an interim chief who was here for several months. And now myself. And so part of this is dismantling the revolving door that is on the position of the chief's office and giving some consistent and stable leadership, because during this time where direction to the troops and support of our officers is so important, they haven't had a consistent voice. They haven't had a consistent voice coming out of the chief office saying, this is how we're going to do business. So one of the things that's happening in all these conversations is the reassurance. I want you to know that you guys are stuck with me for the next five years.


[00:23:41.190] - Dave Norris

I'm here. I'm going to be in this office for five years. And by the time I'm done, we're going to tee this Department up for success for the ten years after that, that's the idea provide some stability, create some sustainable solutions. So we're not putting bandaids on things and giving this Department the internal confidence things forward beyond. Yeah.


[00:23:57.750] - Steve Morreale

But, chief, you're outside. You're an outsider. You're coming in. And I'm not knocking that out. But I know that there are people who feel that way. Why couldn't we have somebody from the inside? And that's okay. And that's a natural reaction. I understand that completely. But with new people come new ideas, come an exploration comes an investigation, a new set of eyes. But what you said at the beginning is that you really enjoyed being a field training officer, which means you're a mentor. So the question is, what's your perspective on developing people for the future so that a secession plan is considered in the future and that you won't have to call in an outsider?


[00:24:32.250] - Steve Morreale

I see a smile on your face, but you won't have to call in an outsider the next time, right?


[00:24:36.750] - Dave Norris

That is a huge part of the plan. And one of the most important pieces of that. Steve and I think some of your guests have talked about it, touched on it a little bit. And I think in the most recent podcast, I heard a little bit more distinctly, but it's the fact that 15 to 25 year range. So, veteran police officers who are in leadership positions, right? What got them to that point? What has put them in a position to be promoted up into the ranks is different than what our two to five-year officers need to make them successful at year eight or nine when we're looking at them for leadership positions. And so that I think is the most uncomfortable part of this is working with our current leadership, making sure that they understand that the goal posts that they're showing to the officers who are working for them now are different than the goal posts that they had that got them where they are. And so that is where I think a significant amount of mentoring and coaching comes in, a significant amount of laying out what my interests are in leadership. And I'll give you two examples of that.


[00:25:36.090] - Dave Norris

So one good example is that I've been telling everyone what I expect out of leaders in the organization, and it's about everybody around me. It's not about me. And I tell them I'm not in this job because I like to look in the mirror and see four stars on my collar and think that's cool. I could very easily have cruised out my career in another organization, got paid very well to do so and retired. But I'm here for you. I'm not here for me. I'm here to make this organization the best it can be.


[00:26:02.070] - Speaker 2

And that speaks the expectation to have everyone at the leadership level is you're working to elevate the game with everybody around you. And that's what I expect out of leaders. That's what I'm going to be looking for in the leaders that I promote. That's what I'm going to be asking for out of the leaders that we have here and making it clear that we're revising some of those expectations to make sure that we put those things in place to make sure that they have. Okay.


[00:26:22.230] - Steve Morreale

So we're running out of time. And I want to wind down by asking a couple of things. I know that you are interested in focused on evidence-based policing, data-driven management, if you will. And if that's the case, how do you gather your analysis. Who's doing that for you? Do you need somebody to do that other than who is doing it now? Yesterday, when I talked to another chief here on the East Coast, and this episode hasn't come out yet. But he said something and it triggered my mind to say, Well, wait a minute.


[00:26:51.690] - Steve Morreale

Did you have anything before? No, we didn't. Who did the data? It was a police officer doing it as an ancillary job. But we decided I had to fight for a non-sworn analyst, and it has changed the way I do things. React to that.


[00:27:06.090] - Dave Norris

So I was stunned in a very positive way. You had a podcast that I was listening to where you had someone on who was I think it was the director of research and development for a police organization or some type.


[00:27:18.270] - Steve Morreale

Probably Brenda Bond, I think.


[00:27:19.830] - Dave Norris

Yes, exactly. And I was really impressed with that.


[00:27:23.370] - Steve Morreale

That was in the 80s, right? That was way ahead of things. And so many departments haven't done that yet.


[00:27:28.770] - Dave Norris

We could talk for hours, Steve, on ideas that are ahead of their time and how they need to come back for sure. But I have people in my Department currently who serve an incredible purpose but also have a level of education in that realm that I would love to leverage and maximize. So how we accomplish that? What I'm looking at is we had a 15% budget reduction that led to a 20% reduction in personnel. I think that I need to look at that missing piece of the pie when I'm going back to my city organization now and say, okay, how are we going to look at this differently?


[00:28:01.530] - Dave Norris

And how are we going to use some of this? Because that's officer full time equivalent money, that's expensive money or a fraction of that. I probably can build a team of academics of people who have a great ability to create evidence based solutions and put for some well founded recommendations of how we do policing in the future. And I could do that at a lower cost than just blindly adding extra cops back onto the street. Then we can look at for the future as the population increases, and we need to ask for additional people.


[00:28:33.390] - Dave Norris

You'll make those logical asks, but with what we've reduced from at this point, I find that to be someplace where we should really look for how we find the funding to do that.


[00:28:42.210] - Steve Morreale

It's on your to do list.


[00:28:43.830] - Dave Norris



[00:28:44.190] - Steve Morreale

So let me end with those couple of questions. What is on your to do list? What's on your to do list now? And please, I'll ask you professionally as the new chief and even personally.


[00:28:52.950] - Dave Norris

All right. So let's start with professionally. There's a lot of stuff on the list. The biggest piece is something that I helped to do in San Mateo prior to coming here that has not yet been done here, which is having a series of conversations with our public about who we are, how we do business, what we are currently doing that fulfills the needs that maybe the public doesn't know about what we are working on to fulfill additional needs and what the future looks like. Those conversations need to happen.


[00:29:18.810] - Dave Norris

And that's what we're spending most of our time organizing outside the organization right now, inside the organization, on my to do list, I have a person in an acting position of the commander. It's a chief and two commanders. And then, Sergeant, we don't have much middle management. I have an acting commander who's doing a good job, but I know I need to fill that position with a full time commander. It might be that person. It might be someone else, but I need to fill that management position because that's how do you set direction without good management?


[00:29:43.710] - Dave Norris

And then I have a promotional test, which is going to be an opportunity for me to lay out really what I'm expecting out of the leadership level in the organization and getting that message out to everyone. That's how we are going to do business in the future. And so in personal goals, this is a legacy opportunity for me. I want to be able to go out knowing in confidence that I've done everything I can do in the profession to raise the game of the profession. And so through the work I'm doing here and also through the work I'm doing on some national committees, I'm hoping to leave a Mark that will satisfy me through raising people into the leadership ranks and through getting some hands on involvement and will guide this culture in the future.


[00:30:20.850] - Speaker 2

And I know you ask about bucket list, so I'll get it to personal bucket list. I still play baseball on the weekends.


[00:30:26.070] - Steve Morreale

No kidding. Are you still pitching?


[00:30:28.470] - Dave Norris

No. There's no more bullets left in this gun.


[00:30:31.350] - Steve Morreale

Are you a lefty?


[00:30:32.130] - Dave Norris

I'm left handed.


[00:30:33.150] - Steve Morreale

Oh, I saw you raise your left hand.


[00:30:35.850] - Dave Norris

I'm left-throughouthanded pitcher through my entire career as a professional. And then I took about 17 years off the arm doesn't work the way it used to. So I had to convert myself to a hitter. What a great analogy when you're mentoring and coaching people to talk about looking at a business from the other side and taking the other perspective as an important piece to learning the whole package. And so I mostly manage. And I'm a designated hitter on the team. But I love getting out there and getting my cleats in the dirt every weekend.


[00:31:01.890] - Dave Norris

And I have not yet been to the Men's Senior League World Series down in Arizona. That happens in October. So that covers the personal goals. I'm incredibly happy and in a well balanced position at home, I've got a spouse who actually she works. My wife works about five minutes from the police Department here, so our commutes are very similar right now. Our timeline is pretty similar, and I think that we're able to start doing some real planning about what happens after this business. But in the meantime, I find myself less stressed, more happy with the things that we're doing in this organization than I've ever been in my career.


[00:31:37.110] - Steve Morreale

That's terrific.


[00:31:37.710] - Steve Morreale

Well, we've had the pleasure to talk with Dave Norris, David Norris from the Menlo Park Police in California. And as I say, we're so lucky to be able to talk with people from all over the world. Never mind all over the country. I appreciate that. Thank you so much for your time and your energy, and I wish you the best of luck, Dave.


[00:31:54.210] - Dave Norris

Thank you so much.


[00:31:55.110] - Steve Morreale

All right. This is Steve Morreale. You've been listening to the copdoc podcast. Stay tuned for future episodes. We appreciate your feedback. Thanks for listening.


[00:32:02.250] - Steve Outro 

Hey, everybody, a few things before you leave first. Thanks for listening. I'm so gratified to see the downloads rising in the last few months, not only from the US but from across the globe. It's surprising and humbling to find students, colleagues, and practitioners listening. We have a growing number of listeners in Canada, Ireland, England, Northern Ireland, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Colombia. We appreciate your time and energy and welcome feedback. Please feel free to reach out to me by email the copdoc Podcast at Check out our website at Please take the time to share a podcast with your friend. If you find value in the discussions. We've had so many amazing guests and more to come who have shared their wisdom, their thoughts, their viewpoints, and their innovative ideas. Most importantly, a huge thank you to those of you who show up for work in policing every day, not knowing the kinds of calls that you'll be sent on or the kinds of situations you'll find yourself in. You risk your lives for people many of whom you don't know, and for that, we owe you a debt of gratitude.


[00:32:56.670] - Steve Outro 

A big thanks. Hope you stay safe, healthy, and look forward to hearing from you and hope you'll continue to listen to upcoming episodes of The Copdoc Podcast. Thanks very much.


[00:33:07.530] - Outro

Thanks for listening to the Cop Doc podcast with Dr. Steve Morreale. Steve is a retired law enforcement practitioner and manager turned academic and scholar from Worcester State University. Please tune into The CopDoc Podcast for regular episodes of interviews with thought leaders in policing.