Doug Shoemaker is the Chief of Police at the Grand Junction, Colorado Police Department. A veteran of more than 30 years in law enforcement, most of his career was with the Jefferson City, Missouri Police Department, the capital city of MO.
He rose to the number two position, as Deputy Chief. He was recently elected as the 5th Vice President for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He will rise through the chairs to become the IACP president in 5 years.
Doug talks about Strategic Planning, empowering all members of an agency to offer ideas for improvement of their department. In a wide-ranging and candid chat, we covered the continuing evolution of policing, the necessity of training, planning, and succession planning, while serving community needs.
[00:00:02.720] - 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 in 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.
[00:00:46.030] - Steve Morreale
Well, Hello again, everybody. Another episode of The CopDoc Podcast. This is Steve Morreale, and I am coming to you from Boston. And today I have the pleasure of going to Mountain Standard Time, and we have Doug Shoemaker. He is the chief of police in Grand Junction, Colorado. So good morning to you, Doug.
[00:01:01.650] - Doug Shoemaker
Good morning, Steve. How are you?
[00:01:03.020] - Steve Morreale
I'm fine. Thank you so much for joining. Before we get started, I'll say to the audience how we came about. I was paying an awful lot of attention, as I always do with LinkedIn, and I think it can be very valuable to share ideas and insights. And one of the things that caught my attention was twofold. Number one that you were running for Vice President for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, that you were chief of police. And one of the ways that you were getting to know your people is to ride along with them in cars, which I'm sure when you first started doing it, it's like, what do you got on me?
[00:01:31.980] - Steve Morreale
What are you trying to do? There's that reticence at first, but I want to talk about that before we begin. Why don't you tell us about yourself, your career in law enforcement, where you came from, what other agencies.
[00:01:42.020] - Doug Shoemaker
So I've actually been in law enforcement for it'll be 31 years, I think in December spent most of my career. Let me back up, actually, when I was in college, I spent two years with the University of Missouri Columbia Police as a non-sworn member. And I worked all night from eleven seven at night. And I went to class all day to get that degree. And when I graduated, I was lucky because at the time, we had 3 or 400 people applying for one position back in policing in 1992.
[00:02:08.250] - Doug Shoemaker
And I was hired by the Jefferson City, Missouri Police Department, state capital, Missouri, right in the center. So I spent almost 27 years of my career there. And then the opportunity for the police chief's position out here in Grand Junction came open, threw my name in the hat. And fortunately, what it is, I was able to get appointed, and I've been here almost three and a half years.
[00:02:28.060] - Steve Morreale
That's great. So back to Jeff City. What were you doing for them? Did you climb through the ranks? What were some of the assignments that you had?
[00:02:34.120] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah, I did. I began. Obviously, I actually started as a reserve officer when I was in College to kind of get my name out there and get involved and learn the ways of the agency and get to know people. And then when I was hired, I went through the normal field training and eventually became a field training officer myself. I spent some time with traffic. Some working spot was a crisis. Negotiator was then promoted through the ranks to Sergeant, a few different stance, our various portions of the agency, whether that was professional standards or most of it in control and then went to Lieutenant and then went to captain.
[00:03:05.170] - Doug Shoemaker
And when I left, retired from the organization, I was the number two person there at the agency and did a lot of different things, whether it was in community services, patrol investigations, and I also happen to be the public information officer there for about twelve years. One of those other duties is assigned, if you will. So it was a great experience. I worked with a lot of great people. The community was fantastic and no regrets there, but obviously thrilled to be here.
[00:03:28.960] - Steve Morreale
So back to Jeff City before we get on to Grand Junction, it has to be different being the Police Department in the capital city. Talk about that a little bit.
[00:03:36.950] - Doug Shoemaker
Sure. We had obviously with the state capital. Everything comes to state capital. Now that said, the state of Missouri have what's called capital police, and they deal with the capital, the physical building itself and the governor and so on and so forth. But everything that was controversial at times that would come to the capital for a protest or for some sort of issue along with the politics that are inherent in the state capital certainly live within Jeff City. So that made for some interesting times, whether it would be, for example, the National Social movement came in and did a rally when the journey for justice happened, which was the March from Ferguson, Missouri, back in December of 2014.
[00:04:11.750] - Doug Shoemaker
That was the March from Ferguson along the highway to Jeff City. I was the incident commander for that particular event. And so a lot of experiences really coming to the state capital, I think prepped me well for this job.
[00:04:21.880] - Steve Morreale
So before we jump into where you are now, describe the size of the agency, you came from Jeff City and then tell us what the similarities and differences are in terms of size, population, location.
[00:04:32.360] - Doug Shoemaker
So Jeff City has about 40, some thousand people, but it's Wells to probably double that during the day because of the home of state government, whether that be with capital or just all the different state buildings and the functions of the state has to perform. So the agency itself had, I think, 89 sworn and about 130 total employees. Grand Junction, however, is bigger 65,000, which swells to about 100 to 110,000 during the day because of the largest city here. Actually, we're the largest city between Denver and Salt Lake on I 70.
[00:05:04.370] - Doug Shoemaker
So that probably says a little bit of something. We also have 143 sworn members and a little over 100 non sworn members to include regional communications center. So all said and done, I'll have almost double, really, the employees here than I was working with in Jeff City.
[00:05:21.080] - Steve Morreale
So as you threw your hat in the ring and you went through the process of competing for this particular job, I presume that as you're looking and as you come closer to being a finalist, there are things that have to go through your mind, things that you have potentially vision to work on a police Department, even when it's a department that's in good stead. What were the things that you were trying to look at to make some improvements, adjustments to help improve morale at the police department?
[00:05:48.740] - Steve Morreale
What did you see and what have you been doing? What were those first few weeks like.
[00:05:52.490] - Doug Shoemaker
For me, the first, actually, several months were really included. A lot of listings. Sometimes when Chiefs come into organizations, there's this tendency on the part of some to want to come in and make an immediate, drastic change. And that's not always a good thing at all, because you don't necessarily know the culture. You may think you understand the culture coming in from the outside, but what you see sometimes is not always reflective of what's beneath the surface. So for me, it was a matter of listening, coming in and talking to employees, talking to community members, talking to our staff at City Hall, whether that's my boss, whether it's other department directors, but really getting to know people and understand the culture.
[00:06:25.530] - Doug Shoemaker
So I didn't want to take any steps that might reflect in a way of some sort of a change agent type of issue, because that's not why I was hired. The agency was already in good standing. I had a positive culture within clearly, things that we can improve upon as always as with any organization. But I came in in a good place. The chief that was here prior really left it in a good spot for me when it comes to how people feel. But there were some, absolutely some opportunities to really increase that morale, to increase the buy-in and give people a better chance to feel perhaps a bigger part of your organization.
[00:06:58.520] - Steve Morreale
Part of the listening, I would guess, is to say, Where have you been? Where are you at? Where you want to be? Where can we be together when you were gathering? What were some of the things that sort of stuck out? What were the things that you could easily achieve in the first little bit?
[00:07:13.370] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah, I think this organization, for all the great things that it had going for at the time, one major flaw or challenge, I guess I'll call was the lack of succession plan. And that was noticeable because as I came in, many of the commanders or lieutenants, some agencies call them lieutenants. We call them commanders, had 30 plus years in and retired within a matter of eight to ten months, and when you have that many people on a command staff level that leave after 33 to 40 years of service, well, deserve great individuals.
[00:07:41.670] - Doug Shoemaker
But that has a ripple effect on an organization. When I looked at some of the sergeants that were testing, there's not a lot that had been done to prepare them for the next level. Now, thankfully, they are outstanding individuals, and they already had the talents to do the job. They just hadn't had necessarily the training to take them to that next level that hadn't been set out for them. So I'm very grateful that I was able to promote people that have since that time, excelled in that position and have made really the best out of what I would say was a lack of really prepping them and maybe some of the appropriate ways to do so.
[00:08:14.700] - Doug Shoemaker
The succession plan was certainly a big deal. And the training component, I think, is also a very big deal. Since I've been here, we've actually doubled our training budget, which was significant.
[00:08:23.510] - Steve Morreale
[00:08:24.380] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah. We want to really find out. And you mentioned it earlier, and I think your point was well said, is finding out where people want to go. What do you want to be when you grow up in the organization? Right. So finding people's why for me has been key and to this day and really moving forward continues to be kind of solid.
[00:08:42.700] - Steve Morreale
There will be an episode with a Captain from the Greensboro, North Carolina Police Department. He is all about secession planning. And I think that's interesting. But you come in as an outsider for whatever reason. I suppose in some cases, it may be some people left because they didn't get the job. And I understand if you work for 33 years, you hope you have a shot. But now you're coming in. But your focus seems to be on developing the people that are there in the perfect world. Will another outsider replace Doug Shoemaker?
[00:09:10.000] - Doug Shoemaker
It really depends on the candidate. I think we have certainly a deputy chief here now that I was able to promote from commander to deputy chief, he's an outstanding individual. So someday, maybe when I leave my goal right now in conversations that down the road, when it's my time, which it happens for Chiefs, right. We're all realistic about this job. My goal is to prepare him should he want that position to prepare him as best as I possibly can. And he's grown up in the organization. So it really depends on the candidates and the drive and the way to do the job.
[00:09:40.340] - Steve Morreale
That's very good. I'm glad to hear that one of the books that I suggested new police Chiefs, and it's an old book and you're past your 90 days, but "The first 90 Days" because it basically says exactly what you're saying. Don't come in there unless there is something really wrong. Don't come in there and make changes immediately without taking the time to listen to, understand, to allow people to have input into the Department that they know and love and have served. And I think that's a good one.
[00:10:03.960] - Steve Morreale
The other thing is the whole idea. I'll throw this term out. I use this in a lot of training that I do. And that is, do you allow your officers to have an ownership stake, or are they just renting? Do you know the difference between owning and renting? I see you shake your head. Talk about that, Doug.
[00:10:18.640] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah. Actually, I've never heard it phrased that way, but I love it. I'm going to use it now. So one thing we didn't have when I came in was a strategic plan, which for an agency size sort of was a little shocked. So instead of an approach where it would be a top down strategic plan where I gather around with the two deputy Chiefs and the seven commanders and say, what are we going to accomplish? And we write it down and we create a vision, value, mission statement, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:10:40.180] - Doug Shoemaker
We did it a little different. And so what I did is I involved people within every rank or civilian or sworn that represented every part of our Department. So lab, police service, technician, records, dispatch. And so we all came together. There were 30 of us that came together for two and a half days and had a strategic planning session led to really determine what our future was going to be. I teach strategic plan for Northwestern University school staff in command, but I didn't want to do that because I felt if I did it, then there would be this influence that I didn't want to throw in there.
[00:11:10.980] - Doug Shoemaker
So I wanted to listen and really see what people had to say and sort of observe course and direction, ultimately knowing, look, it's my choice. I get it. But if people have a say and if they feel like they're willing to throw that out there, that to really direct the agency collectively from all levels. Wow. What an opportunity. And so that's what we did. And when it comes to the ownership versus renting, we do talk about that with recruiting, we really, as I routinely tell them, look, you're our best recruiters.
[00:11:35.860] - Doug Shoemaker
You have a direct say in who we hire and who we don't hire. And you have to figure out who you want working with you just as much as I have the authority to hire them or not hire them. So we take kind of an all levels approach to recruiting, for example, just to say, look, we have a recruiting team. We have a retention team. We regularly need to talk about what our initiatives are, how we can do it different. And I just had a briefing day before yesterday where I went and I said, look, if you have ideas, send them up because there are things that I'm not going to see that the deputy Chiefs aren't going to see.
[00:12:04.970] - Doug Shoemaker
But you, as line officers, will see things that may be the best idea that we've never thought of. And so we try and give everybody and routinely I mean, I'll get texts from police officers from line level officers about this, that and the other and ideas. And so I think that communication piece where they feel like they're safe to do that and that we're receptive to listen and actually give a consideration and not just brush it off like another silly initiative that just kind of comes and goes.
[00:12:27.510] - Doug Shoemaker
But I think we're getting to the point certainly now where there's that level of trust and buy in. So I think that's helpful to do.
[00:12:33.360] - Steve Morreale
But, Doug, you had to help create that. You have to have an approachability. You have to have an openness. In my mind, if you're going to create that sort of a culture where, by the way, I need you as a problem. Identifier not just a problem solver. And we're willing to hear we don't see everything. We're blind to some things. Please bring it forward. And obviously, when you do that and you create that rapport if you will. And certainly I do that in the classroom. And even when I'm teaching, I was just an executive development course.
[00:12:59.140] - Steve Morreale
But I was exactly saying the same thing. And that is start to ask your people what they think what they would do. My favorite utterance is if you had a magic wand and you were King or Queen for the day, what one thing would you change to improve this Department? And when you ask that of everyone, imagine what you could collect and then you're seeing some similarities. And that's how you gain buy in. But you have to pull the trigger. You have to take some action on those talk about that.
[00:13:26.430] - Doug Shoemaker
I think some leaders, maybe we'll call the managers because there's certainly differentiation or maybe a little bit scared about what could be if they ask the question, because that can be intimidating, right? Some people that are at the top maybe don't want to see the blemishes, maybe they don't want to see where the faults in the armor lie. But the problem is that doesn't allow the agency to progress appropriately and in the right direction, and it really doesn't allow for employees to feel like they have a piece in that.
[00:13:54.060] - Doug Shoemaker
Let's be honest, if you have a system, no matter how good the system sounds, where you send a recommendation for a program or an idea up through the chain of command and it never gets there or you never hear back on it. After a while, cops are smart and they're going to go, look, this is just another thing.
[00:14:08.340] - Steve Morreale
[00:14:09.150] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah. So I don't know that we give our line staff enough credit sometime to realize that they see and they're paying attention. So I think for me, really being able to get that buy in and really get and asking those tough questions sometimes whether it's an internal survey, whether it's talking about things, for example, what we went to our other carriers here. And I'll be honest with you, I'm not a huge fan of how they look. I just don't like. But we did a practice run with them.
[00:14:31.540] - Doug Shoemaker
One of our sergeants did an amazing study on the medical advantages of the load bearing and distribution. Those kinds of things. We were able to find something that looks good with our uniforms, and we found the money and did it. And it wasn't my favorite thing in the world. But the officers liked it. But they had the say in it. They had the idea, and that was their movement. So those little wins are important.
[00:14:53.000] - Steve Morreale
Well, you know, Doug, as a leader, I think you quickly realize some who are true leaders realize that when you put forward an idea and you allow for input from everybody else, your idea may be a skew from your original intention. And that's okay, because actually, by asking other people, you aren't thinking about unintended consequences or considerations that they may have. And it takes on a whole new world. I think you have to be strong enough to say it's okay. I got three quarters or a half of what I wanted, but we still move the ball forward.
[00:15:23.490] - Steve Morreale
You're shaking your head. I'm sure you've had that experience in the past. Like you said, that's not quite what I wanted, but okay.
[00:15:29.670] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah. And that's part of it. It's give and take. I get it. I'm the boss, and I'm the one that makes the decision. I understand that, but I don't have the personality where I need to tell people that I don't know that I see the advantage in that, because to me, that's an ego thing. And I think we all know Chiefs or sheriffs that live on ego. And we also see how ineffective that really, truly is into accomplishing what you want to do as an agency, because at the end of the day, responsibility as a leader is not to build a resume, to show how much we've accomplished and how great we are.
[00:15:58.020] - Doug Shoemaker
But it's to really protect the people that go out and protect and serve. And so if I don't do that to the best of my ability, by listening to them, by making sure that they are not only physically safe, but also psychologically safe to the job, then I'm failing. So what does that look like for people? And it's a tough process. It's a lot of work. You want to do it right. It is a lot of work. But when you signed up, nobody forced you to be police chief.
[00:16:19.310] - Doug Shoemaker
Nobody forced you to run for Sheriff. So with it comes the responsibility of doing it the right way.
[00:16:24.530] - Steve Morreale
You said a couple of things about strategic planning and the other thing you were talking about, it seems to me, don't ask a question you don't like the answer to. So there's so much avoidance for asking those questions. I think police departments, in a lot of ways, do exactly the same thing with surveys. They're afraid to ask the public. How are we doing for the fear that they may be told that they don't like some of the things that they're being done. But to me, and I presume to you that's the opportunity to adjust, adjust the sales instead of just bearing a head in the sand, find out what the problems are and work on them prioritize what's your thought on that in terms of survey or asking feedback, internal and external
[00:16:59.000] - Doug Shoemaker
You know, surveys are great, and they have a great place. There's also sort of a feeling that you get that's a little bit hard to measure sometimes. And I suppose 2020 really captured that for a lot of us and that we have began with covet and then, of course, unrest. And then in here in Colorado, some really challenging legislation that was not necessarily the best for our police officer.
[00:17:19.910] - Steve Morreale
Was it reform leg?
[00:17:22.210] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah, it really was that actually addressed qualified immunity and kind of took it and said, yes, we're going to allow people to sue officers and disregard qualified immunity, which is problematic, certainly. So given those types of things, the year was challenging in the last 18 months, we're certainly challenging. And so I think what we've done has been able to navigate that in a way that we already had good community trust. And we always talk about the trust bank, and you want to keep making deposits and not withdrawals.
[00:17:50.240] - Doug Shoemaker
But it allowed us to form some partnerships and some relationships and just open communication with some of the people that we serve. And so anecdotally we have had so many people reach out that and establish relationships that we never, I don't think, would have maybe before we're the police Department, for example, at Colorado Mesa University, which is a rare thing. Most universities have their own police Department, and they have a few officers that are employed by them. But we're the police on campus. So we've established a relationship with CMU and continue to build that.
[00:18:21.300] - Doug Shoemaker
And that is by far our most diverse population in this community. And through that have come conversations and just opportunities to meet and discuss things and really a level of trust that I think as I look back and I consistently work with, like, our head football coach at the Colorado University, we've done some things that others don't seem to be able to do. And the funny thing is it's been so simple. It just starts with the conversation and figuring out what we can do better together and having realistic expectations and talking through a lot of things.
[00:18:52.240] - Doug Shoemaker
So for us, I think there are so many times where we will have people, and I'm not used to it. When I was in Jeff City, I would rarely walk into a business and have some random person walk by and say, hey, thanks for your service. I could probably count the number of times on my hand in my 20, almost 27 year career that that happened here. It's extremely routine to the point where it's almost uncomfortable. Yeah, it's appreciated. But I'm just still not used to it.
[00:19:19.580] - Doug Shoemaker
I think so. I think that says a lot about our community. But more importantly, how well our officers have served the community and what they do every day on the line level.
[00:19:27.680] - Steve Morreale
So we're talking Doug Shoemaker, he's the chief in Grand Junction, also a vice President for the IACP, recently elected. You just said a couple of things, and I think it's so important. Relationships. Policing is all about relationships. Do you see as the chief? And is it your vision as you set expectations and talking with your deputy Chiefs and your commanders and your troops at the line level? Sergeants and such. We're a customer service-oriented organization because so many people are resistant to that. I think that's probably paramount in policing.
[00:19:59.910] - Steve Morreale
React to that. I see your head shaking.
[00:20:01.820] - Doug Shoemaker
Sure. So I think we have really the pieces in place for an extremely customer service related model of policing. And I think that again, goes back to how the culture started and who we hire police officers because who we hire police officers is different today than it was in 92 when I was hired. The ability to communicate effectively and to de escalate and to really problem solve verbally is more important now than ever. So I think we've had a lot of successes there. And I think our approach, whether it's even dealing with tactical call outs and incidents, where we go out and we have somebody barricaded in the house and how we approach that and what we try and do to take them in custody safely, but also really our community expectations.
[00:20:44.010] - Doug Shoemaker
So the emphasis absolutely is on a customer focus and how we relate to people. And we have a big challenge, for example, with mental health here everybody has to do most, right. And so we've had a very effective corresponding model with an officer with a clinician. We've got officers that are trained in crisis intervention training. And so it's been a primary focus. And it's funny when we recruit and when we bring them through the interviews and all the steps that we take with them, those that have some sort of background in dealing with customers, whether it be at a grocery store or whether it be at Starbucks or whatever else it happens to be, they kind of get it a little bit more.
[00:21:27.340] - Doug Shoemaker
And I don't think people understand sometimes that skill set is so very important on what we do and how we do what we do because you understand how you relate to people without taking things personally.
[00:21:36.530] - Steve Morreale
Irate customers, right. Trying to please them, right. you know Doug, that's interesting. I don't mean to cut you off, but I teach Capstone. And one of the first things I say and I'm not big on using dirty words. Here I'll ask students, think about your chicken shit job. We all had them, right. And what I mean by chicken shit. It's not going to be your last job, but what ends up happening is what did you learn from that? I had to show up for work. I had to deal with difficult people, difficult jobs, had to handle money, didn't steal money, showed up on time, filled in for other people.
[00:22:03.660] - Steve Morreale
All of those things contribute well to somebody who is service oriented in policing. And you just stated that you must agree.
[00:22:10.830] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah, 100%. And again, we really try and dig into people's personalities and not only how good they are in communicating, but really their why of why you want to do this, especially right now. What do you think? What's your play here and really trying to dig into that? Because sometimes people really let their personalities come out and they get it. Some people are just not made to do this job.
[00:22:32.120] - Steve Morreale
Understood! I say that there's a lot of want to be never bees, if you know what I mean. But one of the things, too, I think that is so important nowadays, as we're getting people ready for this job, this career and considering hiring them is the importance of empathy and compassion towards others.
[00:22:47.030] - Steve Morreale
We changed when I got here. We changed through our strategic planning process. When we went through that week, I said, Look, I get our values at the time and gosh, I can't even think of what they were. No, it was like respect, integrity and something else. And so we went through and throughout I don't know how many words there were maybe 2030 words, and we narrowed them down in passion. Actually, it's one of our things now. And while I realize it's just a word, I think it resonates amongst our folks now more than ever because we do try and problem solve everything.
[00:23:14.420] - Doug Shoemaker
And I don't even like the term law enforcement because it denotes that all we do is go out and enforce the law. And that is so far from the truth. That's why I prefer the term policing. And our job, quite frankly, is to protect the public and the most vulnerable from harm. That's our job. And so that means problem solving. That means going out and figuring out that it's probably more often than not, let's admit, not a legal problem, but rather it's a style issue that we are the ones that are called to handle it.
[00:23:38.210] - Doug Shoemaker
And through our methods and our resources and our partnerships, we have to figure out what that puzzle looks like and get that person plugged into wherever they need to go. And most likely it's not jail. But most likely it might be some other type of issue that they just need some help on. And so that's where that communication piece really resonates.
[00:23:53.410] - Steve Morreale
Well, not only that, but going back to relationships, knowing who to hand it off to people. And that becomes a really important element of police. So as we're talking, there are a whole bunch of things that go through my mind and, you know, we'll run out of time. Let me go back to strategic planning. The fact that you're teaching strategic planning is amazing. It's one of my favorite things I teach it also at the graduate level, both at doctoral and the undergraduate level. And I spend a little bit of time in mid manager, first line supervisor, and certainly in executive development.
[00:24:19.900] - Steve Morreale
What troubles me is there's so few police departments that have strategic planning or plans? It's a very difficult job. It takes an awful lot of time. Like you said, if you're going to engage people and stakeholders inside and outside, it takes a long time. But I would ask you from your perspective as you teach it. And as you actually created it, isn't it simply a roadmap for the organization?
[00:24:41.790] - Doug Shoemaker
Yes, it is. And I think the challenge with it is because it does take a lot of work to really set it up. And by setting it up, I don't mean just simply throwing something down on paper and saying, this is our direction. I think if you do it right, it takes a lot of thought. But if you do it right and you involve people in that process and get that buy in, it really does allow people when they're asked on the Street Where's the Department going to go in a few years, what's the goal there?
[00:25:02.900] - Doug Shoemaker
And what does this look like? I think it allows them to go well, here's what we're trying to accomplish. And so when you have that level of understanding broadly, not just within the chief showing up to a Rotary meeting and talking about it when the line officers kind of see that path in front of them, I think that helps not only our community, but really helps our staff understand where we're going to go.
[00:25:21.220] - Doug Shoemaker
So you're ride along. Talk about that. How are those going? What led to that?
[00:25:24.510] - Doug Shoemaker
Well, several things, I suppose. First, I really don't like sitting in the office. I know it's funny, because if you take a job as police chief, didn't you think that's what you're going to do? So I get it. But a chance to really connect on a level that I just don't have many opportunities to look. I'm busy. I have budgets. I have all these things. I have emails, I have meetings and 1000 things. But my real passion is the police work. And when I get to go and do a ride along, yes, I have a car.
[00:25:52.020] - Doug Shoemaker
Although my car is the best car in the world, but it's not really. And it's certainly not equipped to go out in patrol like a real patrol officer does. But the chance to get in a car with someone and just really learn about more about them personally and talk about things. And I always have the same talk whenever I get in with somebody new. And I'm like, look, you know, my badge number. I'm just your rider. Tonight. I will back you up on traffic stops. I'll get out of the car.
[00:26:12.590] - Doug Shoemaker
Here's what I'm going to do. But you leave. And if you need me to do something, you need to tell me to go, hey, can you go get this information from that witness or whatever else? And I'll just go do it. And so I said the ego thing and the rank thing. I said, I get it that if the bad thing happens, we've got to do what we've got to do. And I'm the chief. But in the meantime, just consider me kind of like one of your recruits or something that's just sort of riding along and asking questions.
[00:26:35.060] - Doug Shoemaker
And this is just a chance to get to know each other. And I said, you can ask me whatever you want to ask. I'm never afraid. And when I do briefings, I always have the same rules. And I always set it up and say, look at the end of the meeting. It's your turn to ask questions. And you know the rules. You ask away. This is your chance to ask any questions that might be on your mind. And so I think, Well, I hope they know I'm genuine in what I do.
[00:26:54.650] - Doug Shoemaker
And I don't have an agenda. I don't have a list of questions I'm going to ask them. It's just a chance to get to know people. And it's fun. And we have a really good time. And it's exciting. Like last two weeks ago, three weeks ago, I was on a ride along, and we ended up with what's called a felony menacing where a guy was allegedly supposed to point at a gun at somebody. And so I was with an officer. We responded another officer and I was in the stack and dealing with this guy to get him into custody.
[00:27:18.010] - Doug Shoemaker
And you would think that it was, like, the greatest story ever told because the officers, like, we heard you were doing this and that's awesome.
[00:27:27.470] - Doug Shoemaker
You're really a police officer that night, right? I was really.
[00:27:32.570] - Doug Shoemaker
But it was fun. And it's nice being a little part of the world because I really respect them. And they're wonderful people and not only wonderful cops, just good people. And I appreciate that. So it makes me feel it's really revitalizing. Quite frankly, I come in the next day and I'm just jazzed up. Ready to go.
[00:27:48.480] - Steve Morreale
Waiting for the next one. Right?
[00:27:50.510] - Doug Shoemaker
Absolutely. It's on the calendar. So let's do this.
[00:27:53.380] - Steve Morreale
Well, you know, it's interesting. You think part of what you're doing by doing that is you're keeping your finger on the pulse. And if you don't do that, you become detached. And of course, they start thinking the Ivory Tower doesn't know what's going on, but it helps you. Does it help in your decision making in the future or your data collection?
[00:28:07.820] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah, it does. It allows us to just talk about things. And for us, I think we all since we have a strategic plan that has been developed by all of us, and I have regular meetings. I go to briefings whether it's graveyard shift or day shift or whatever else. And I just talk about updates like the budget, for example, and I talk to them about the budget, not to bore them to tears, really to say, Look, here's what we're trying to do, and here's why we're doing what we're doing just so they understand, kind of my approach and why I've done why I push things in this direction and so on and so forth.
[00:28:36.830] - Doug Shoemaker
So I think that's been valuable, but hearing things because after a while, they sometimes will open up about things they'd like to see or thoughts or challenges, maybe from their perspective, that don't make it up to me through the commanders and through the deputy Chiefs, just about whether it's working with the jail or working with certain community groups or who knows. But people are willing to provide that input. And so I think for me that gives me that really awesome opportunity that sitting up here and said, Ivory Tower doesn't afford me.
[00:29:04.340] - Steve Morreale
Well, I'm writing so many things down there's a few more things as we wind down. Do you worry or how do you deal with the issue of jumping the chain of command?
[00:29:11.370] - Doug Shoemaker
I have an open door policy, but we also have an understanding that look, if you're going to bring me an idea, there may be people that are in that chain of command that might have some sort of addition or can back that up and give me a broader perspective on it, because an officer might not see something big picture or some legal issue or something else that their Sergeant or their commander or see. But every project that is suggested has to come to my office. There's no stopping it.
[00:29:38.910] - Doug Shoemaker
You cannot cut it off and say, we're not even going to send that out to the chief. So it has to come up here. But it's funny, because I think with many officers there's this sort of comfort in this friendship, which has allowed for different ideas to generate. But I'm always extremely respectful that chain of command and the understanding as to why we do that. Likewise, the sergeants and the commanders know that. And the corporals all know that they have a tremendous amount of responsibility in this piece.
[00:30:03.860] - Doug Shoemaker
Their job is development of staff. And so the expectation is that they have to with each of their officers, they have to understand their why and how to get them there and how to effectively try and push them to next level, because eventually they're going to replace them. It's the whole succession fee. And if you don't empower people, then how are they going to learn what they need to learn?
[00:30:21.900] - Steve Morreale
So we're talking with Doug Shoemaker. He's the chief of police in Grand Junction, Colorado, today. And what you were just saying is when you're running your meetings, maybe when you first came in. And certainly I think they probably have changed over time. Do you find that you were leading with questions?
[00:30:36.300] - Doug Shoemaker
Oh, that's a good question. I mean, that's a good question to lead with a question. Wow. That's like a Willy Wonka rabbit hole thing there.
[00:30:45.130] - Steve Morreale
Let me rephrase a little bit. You're sitting around the table, you're talking. You've learned how to investigate, right? Your whole life is investigating, asking who, what, where, when why? It's on the street. But here you are now in charge of an organization where you're doing the same thing you're inquiring. What are we doing? What can we do? How are we doing that anybody have a different idea? I can't believe that that's not how you lead because of the conversation I've had.
[00:31:09.500] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah, I think that what I try and do is I will open up a topic and talk about that topic a little bit and say, here's what we have. So let's just talk it through. And then I'll step back and go have at it. And then I'll just start listening and making notes. And then we'll start to kind of combine that into some sort of workable solution. So sometimes I feel like I'm more of a facilitator than I am a decision maker. And again, I understand that it's my decision.
[00:31:31.700] - Doug Shoemaker
If something goes bad here, knock on wood. Let's hope that this happened. It's my responsibility and I got to own it. So yeah, I do make the decisions. But, wow, when I open things up, it's much easier and I'll go off on a tangent. I think that will demonstrate that. So I did something a little less than a year ago that I thought I would never do in my career as certainly as a police chief or as a police leader. And I sent out an email to the entire Department, and I said, hey, we are going to start a book club.
[00:31:55.230] - Doug Shoemaker
Bear with me on this, which I'm not a fan of those necessarily. My wife belongs to a few, and I'm like, okay, it sounds exciting. So in particular, I read Simon Sinek's Infinite Game, and I know Simon, I'm on a committee that's going to be announced fairly soon in terms of something really excited we're doing called The Curve, which is a project to kind of change police training and police cultures across the country.
[00:32:19.740] - Steve Morreale
[00:32:20.010] - Doug Shoemaker
And he's fantastic.
[00:32:21.060] - Steve Morreale
He is. I love his Start with Why. Yeah, go ahead.
[00:32:25.250] - Doug Shoemaker
I said, look, we're going to read The Infinite Game. I'll buy the books, and if you want to, it's showing up off duty and we're going to be at a certain time, we're going to go like two chapters, two chapters, two chapters, two chapters. And we had about eight people show up at first, and that grew to 14 by the end of the book club, which we wrapped up two weeks ago early last week. And the beauty of it was I would go to those chapters, and I would start with discussion points to try and relate it to how we are as an organization.
[00:32:50.900] - Doug Shoemaker
How does this culture how does just cause relate to what we do one by one, policing in Castle Rock. When he wrote about Jack Collie over there, how does that relate to what we do here? And then I would set those questions out. And it was like playing volleyball. I would just set it and I would see who would spike it or bounce it around or do whatever else. But it was like facilitating and the ideas and the concepts that came from this. And this is civilians sworn.
[00:33:15.170] - Doug Shoemaker
And I told everybody, there's no rank in this room and what happens in this room and what we talk about stays in this room.
[00:33:20.200] - Steve Morreale
It's like Vegas, right?
[00:33:21.790] - Doug Shoemaker
It's exactly like Vegas without the money. It was great. And it grew to 14 people. And a lot of people really wanted to buy into the culture. More to the point where now we're doing Book Club part two. I just actually sent out the email this morning, and I already have six people signed up. What's the book we're going to do? Leaders elastic, Simon.
[00:33:40.450] - Steve Morreale
[00:33:41.460] - Doug Shoemaker
So next time we'll do something that's not Simon, but there's an opportunity to do some things with Simon on this book.
[00:33:46.530] - Steve Morreale
[00:33:46.920] - Doug Shoemaker
And it's super exciting. So the point is that it's the idea of listing and really kind of taking to heart what people have to say about the organization and how it affects them, not only professionally, but maybe personally and then how we can progress.
[00:33:58.890] - Steve Morreale
That's amazing. That's great. So a couple of things to wind down the issues that are going on and the scrutiny that has come to policing. How are you dealing with that? How do you look at things that are happening across the country, not ignore them, but work to try to avoid that from happening again, learning from those mistakes, learning from the issues.
[00:34:18.810] - Doug Shoemaker
Well, the biggest mistake I think any organization or city or community can make is trying to make national problems local, create something out of that. Maybe it's not relevant locally and trying to solve it from a local level when it doesn't happen there to that level, the problem is maybe not there. Now, with that, it provides opportunities to kind of take a health check. Put your finger on the pulse of things to say. Where are we with this? What does this look like? If we had an incident like that here, how would our community react?
[00:34:48.250] - Doug Shoemaker
What kind of trust have we built up within maybe that community. What does that really look like for us? So for me, it's more opportunities than it is necessarily challenges. Sure. I get frustrated with the national narrative sometimes that I think is completely unfair. Come on. We're not showing the great things officers do all the time. But to the other side, there are things that are being permitted in agencies that are mind blowing against the profession. Come on, stop doing that stuff that's not ethically or morally right.
[00:35:15.740] - Doug Shoemaker
So policing agencies have always been the worst, telling their stories the age old line. I was just doing my job, and anybody else would have done the same. Okay, stop. Just stop. So let's talk about some of the great things that our women and men do out there on a routine basis that aren't life saving, but just relationship building.
[00:35:32.470] - Steve Morreale
So let me ask this. I'm an old PIO myself, and I don't think we, as police agencies, do a good job of marketing. And if there's one thing you might kind of push through, IACP is, how do we market ourselves better? There's so many good things going on. And when I talk about this, what I say is, stop trying to do it yourself, find a college. You've got the university there. They must have some marketing people there. You've got banks that do marketing. I don't think that we do the outreach to say, can you help us build a - I hate to say a brand, but there's so many good things that are happening.
[00:36:03.880] - Steve Morreale
I don't know why we missed the opportunity.
[00:36:06.120] - Doug Shoemaker
No, you're actually spot on with the brand thing. When I was four, I was elected vice President of IACP. I was the head of the police Professional Standards, Ethics and Image committee for IACP, and we were working for a year on a brand and image campaign that actually got moved forward with IACP in partnership with our Pio section, who's done what's called Hashtag Path Forward campaign. So you're spot on, right. And that we have to really work together to figure out how do we rebrand this whole thing and show people that's not really what it's about and shame on us for not doing it until now.
[00:36:38.300] - Doug Shoemaker
So I'm pleased, particularly with President Henninger, who's current President, and some of the leadership that's after him and ultimately me here in five years to do something that's different and to show people kind of what we're really about and what our true goals are.
[00:36:52.420] - Steve Morreale
What strikes me, too, is that I think so many police Chiefs shy away from standing up and saying, hey, what happened in Minneapolis doesn't happen here. I can't guarantee it. But here's what we do that would avoid that from happening. We do this and this and this. That is not our standard. That's not the way we operate. I think we missed those opportunities. The old Pio in you would say, You're right, Steve. So many people remain silent. And if they were afraid to talk on their own, so many small Chiefs, then create a group, go with the County Chiefs of police.
[00:37:23.250] - Steve Morreale
You're sort of insulated. I'm seeing you shake your head.
[00:37:25.810] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah. And sometimes own it, just own it, because sometimes things are just wrong. And if you don't, sometimes we're really not going to calling each other out. And that's where that gets really challenging. But if we don't address the problems, then how do we think we're going to build trust, moving forward, we can't just brush it under the rug. Nor should we. That's not what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to serve and protect equally everyone. And so if we're not doing that, then shame on us.
[00:37:49.890] - Doug Shoemaker
And we have instances where we can call out and go, yeah, that was wrong. And that should never happen. Sometimes just saying it can make a big difference. And then, of course, figuring out where you are with your organization and how you truly do relate to what you're actively doing to try and build and foster those relationships is certainly key. That's great.
[00:38:07.690] - Steve Morreale
So winding down here's a couple of last questions. What's on your to do list at the police department? What are you working on to try to make improvements? What are the things on your list?
[00:38:17.120] - Doug Shoemaker
We're working certainly recruiting is always something that's on the top of our list. Recruitment and retention. I should say both of those things. We're about to dive into the 30 by 30 campaign.
[00:38:27.020] - Steve Morreale
The women. Yeah. That's great. I was on my list and I forgot it. So talk about that from your perspective.
[00:38:31.580] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah. So I'm a member of Nolly and IAWP and NOBLE for that matter, I guess. And so when the opportunity came up to really look at better diversifying our work group, we have a lot of outstanding women that work here and telling their story as to why they do what they do. And then joining in with Nolly. And we'll announce probably within the next 15 ish days, I think, is when we're going to launch our campaign, certainly by the end of this month. But I'm excited about it.
[00:38:56.740] - Doug Shoemaker
And I think that approach to recruiting more women into policing is going to be essential to making us even more successful. And a lot of people, as you know, and I'm sure you've seen across the country are really reevaluating where they are, with their careers. They don't want to do the same thing. I just met a young man at Starbucks the other day during coffee with a cop.
[00:39:16.150] - Steve Morreale
I saw the pictures of some of that, Doug, yes.
[00:39:17.970] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah, a nontraditional. He played soccer for CMU. He's an accountant, and he's, like, just don't feel fulfilled with my job. And I need something more to relate to the community. And I'm like, let's have a chat. So we sat down and went through things and just talk. It was a great conversation for 20 minutes. But that's the point. It's just bringing folks into the fold that really want to accomplish something that's bigger than who they are. And so the 30 by 30 campaign is a no brainer for me.
[00:39:44.340] - Doug Shoemaker
I'm excited. I love working with knowledge. They're a fantastic organization, and I can't wait to officially launch that partnership here soon.
[00:39:51.080] - Steve Morreale
And for those who don't know is the National Association of Women in Law Enforcement. So thank you for that. Let's ask about wellness and how important that is to you, officer Wellness?
[00:39:59.940] - Doug Shoemaker
Yeah. So that was one of my campaign pieces. As I was doing this whole thing. I worry about our staff in terms of not only their physical safety and the threats that they face on a daily basis, but also their psychological wellness to do the job, because it does weigh on you. Those of us in law enforcement have been through. You've seen a lot of things that most people just shouldn't have.
[00:40:19.150] - Steve Morreale
And you can't unsee it.
[00:40:20.240] - Doug Shoemaker
No. And it lives with you forever. And you have to figure out the whole back in my day when I was a rookie cop, suck it up, buttercup was the way to go, and you're on to the next call, and you better not talk about your feelings or you're not meant to be here kind of thing. And now, fortunately, we're in the point where our agency, for example, has a full peer support program where we have peers that are specially trained to deal with things, whether it's an optional shooting or whether it's just going through some sort of tragic issue, seeing a suicide, a car crash involving the death of a child or whatever it happens to be just struggling for whatever reason, kind of reach out to one another.
[00:40:53.020] - Doug Shoemaker
And we work really hard on not only that, but allowing for clinicians to come in and do sort of mental health checkups. And that's not cheap. But for me, it's an investment in what we do and why we do what we do and going beyond even the physical, psychological things, the physical things. We've remodeled the entire gym. We want to make sure it's top-notch for everybody. But we've done some recruiting events like tough Mudders or Spartan races or other things that not only go out to do recruiting, but it's a group wellness thing.
[00:41:21.940] - Doug Shoemaker
And so they train together, they go out, just shows that unity and that we believe in the wellness piece of who we are. And we sort of walk the walk on. So police suicides being what they are, those challenges. And actually, we're bringing in a great speaker. He's from Northern New York. He's a Sheriff up there, and his name is Tim Wickham, and he does a big piece on PTSD and officer wellness and stress, and arguably one of the best four-hour classes I've ever seen in my career.
[00:41:49.400] - Steve Morreale
[00:41:49.650] - Doug Shoemaker
Got to see it at the FBI. And so we're flying Tim in here in December to do a class for not only our officers and our staff, but their spouses.
[00:41:57.060] - Steve Morreale
Oh, good. That's very big.
[00:42:00.110] - Doug Shoemaker
We involve the whole family.
[00:42:01.620] - Steve Morreale
That's big. I appreciate that. The last question, Doug. So the last question is if you had a chance to talk with somebody who has passed that you have great respect for and had that opportunity to sit and pick their brain, who might that be?
[00:42:14.170] - Doug Shoemaker
Well, that's a tough question. I lost my dad in July this year.
[00:42:17.830] - Steve Morreale
[00:42:18.950] - Speaker 2
Right before I got elected. So I'd like to talk to him about that. I think your question is probably more historical, maybe in nature, beyond that. Wow. I guess I'll go back to dad.
[00:42:29.710] - Steve Morreale
Yeah, let's do that. Let's talk about that. So dad has passed, but obviously meant an off a lot to you. What kinds of conversations would you have, would he still be around?
[00:42:37.980] - Doug Shoemaker
Dad was always worked a lot. When I was younger, he was very busy. He worked with the phone company for a long time, had a great career. And every time he was promoted, we moved. But dad was dedicated to the people that worked for him. And they knew that. And so dad always taught me several lessons about follow through with what you promise. Always do the right thing. Don't lie to people and just remember where you came from. And so as ICP happened and all that stuff he knew about it, obviously, because it was a year long campaign before that ended in September.
[00:43:09.670] - Doug Shoemaker
And then he was really proud of that. So I would like to just kind of go back and tell him how I think that impacted how I ran and how his influence helped me run and sort of maybe moving forward what I intend to do with it. And I think that's what I would do. It's just sort of give data status update. But maybe he knows that's great.
[00:43:24.930] - Steve Morreale
Let's hope that he does. So the last thing you have the last word in terms of talking to people who are listening here who are thinking about policing, with all the noise that's out there, sell policing.
[00:43:35.120] - Doug Shoemaker
You know, this is our opportunity. I would not want your job. And as I went into a recruit class locally, we have an Academy. I went and talk to the students there. And I said, Actually, you have arguably the greatest opportunity in history in American policing to change the culture and to make a difference. And here's why, because we have challenges, absolute challenges in front of us with people that are doing the job that shouldn't be doing the job. But we also have communities that are starving for great police work just to allow them to live their lives safely that need our protection, that need us to be the defender of all things that work against them.
[00:44:13.210] - Doug Shoemaker
And so if you want to make that change and you want to be on that front line to directly impact the lives of people that most of the professions will never have the chance to do on a personal level that you don't even understand yet. Then this profession is absolutely for you. And I love this job as much as when I started, and I will fight passionately for this job and for the women and men that do this every single day for the rest of my career.
[00:44:36.650] - Doug Shoemaker
Without question, I'm damn lucky to be doing what I'm doing. I'm really lucky to be where I am. And I'm lucky to have the people that have supported me throughout my career that gave me opportunities, and I'm invigorated. And I feel great when I see people doing just unbelievable police work, but they don't get recognized for it. So I'm excited about the future. I'm all in and let's do this.
[00:44:56.530] - Steve Morreale
Thank you. Well, we've had the pleasure of talking to Doug Schumaker. He is the chief of police in Grand Junction, and we are listening to a thought leader in the future. As you said in the next three or four or five years, you will end up rising to be the President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which is no easy task. And I wish you the best of luck. Thank you so much, Doug, for your time.
[00:45:16.500] - Doug Shoemaker
Thanks, Steve. It's been a lot of fun.
[00:45:17.590] - Steve Morreale
And good luck. This is Steve Morreale. Another episode is in the books. Stay tuned for more episodes. Thanks for listening.
[00:45:25.370] - Outro
Thanks for listening to the copdoc 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.