The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership

The CopDoc Podcast Ep 56 Chief David Norris, Menlo Park, CA Police - Session 2

January 24, 2022 David Norris Season 3 Episode 56
The CopDoc Podcast: Aiming for Excellence in Leadership
The CopDoc Podcast Ep 56 Chief David Norris, Menlo Park, CA Police - Session 2
Show Notes Transcript

In our second session with Chief Norris, we continue our candid and wide-ranging chat. We talk about police culture, leadership development, training, standards, and police reform.  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.   

Tags: Dave NorrisMenlo Park PoliceThe CopDoc PodcastSteve MorrealepolicingSan Mateo Police

[00:00:02.750] - 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.


[00:00:31.990] - Steve Morreale

Again, everybody, this is Steve Morreale. I'm in Boston. We got a second shot, a second opportunity. A while back, we talked with the chief in Menlo Park, David Norris. Welcome back, David.


[00:00:42.040] – Steve Morreale

Thank you so much, David.


[00:00:43.110] - Dave Norris

It's a pleasure to be here.


[00:00:44.340] - Steve Morreale

So we're on the East Coast and West Coast. We've got some time differences. I appreciate you being available for us, but you're a new chief. We talked about a number of things the last time, and we ran out of time, but there are other things to talk about. So I would appreciate some perspective. You have been listening to the podcast and a number of other podcasts, and you just mentioned affair. You mentioned one. Why don't you mention that? Because you seem to find some value in yeah.


[00:01:06.860] - Dave Norris

So there's a couple of podcasts that I listen to. Obviously, I think that especially for leadership, that your podcast has done a great job of merging that academic environment with leadership concepts. What's important for leaders to know? How do we develop our leaders? And so I think that's the one that I'm recommending to a lot, especially a lot of people that are looking at promotional prep. I love Jerry Radcliffe Reducing Crime Podcast. I know you've had Jerry on yours as well. I think he's got some phenomenal guests that get into conversations with people who are really tapped into the national narrative and its impact on the public.


[00:01:39.040] - Dave Norris

And I think that's a crucial piece as well. But then I had a conversation in the parking lot with one of our young officers. And, hey, Chief, what are you reading right now? What's on your bookshelf? Because I really want to learn he's brand new fresh off FTO. Right. I want to learn about the business. And I said, you know what? I don't get a lot of time to read, but I do listen to a lot of podcasts, and I said here's one that I think is really awesome in terms of it's very grassroots.


[00:02:06.950] - Dave Norris

It's talking about people from different backgrounds moving towards unity in a law enforcement-related setting. It's called the Black and Blue Podcast, and it's Chris Swanson, who's the Sheriff in Genesee County, and Ken WADA, who is the free hugs guy. And I don't know if you're familiar.


[00:02:23.210] - Steve Morreale

I am.


[00:02:24.110] - Dave Norris

And so Chris and Ken have these amazing conversations because they come from two entirely different places, but they both want there to be a sense of unity and a rebuilding or reknitting of trust between the community and the police. And it's much more informal. There's a lot of laughter. There's a lot of discussion going on it's a really easy listen. That's another one that I've been listening to pretty frequently.


[00:02:45.780] - Steve Morreale

Well, as I hear you talking, what you said before, this is clearly somebody that I want to reach out for, and I'd love to have him on the podcast help him share his message.


[00:02:53.960] - Dave Norris

Yeah. In fact, I think that if you had both of them on, you get a lot out of that.


[00:02:59.050] - Steve Morreale

That's terrific. Thank you. And thank you for sharing. But let's go back to the officer. So let's talk about that. That was a pretty interesting thing to have the guts to walk up to you and say, hey, Chief, what are you reading? What's on your bookshelf? How did that set in your mind your thoughts about that young officer?


[00:03:13.490] - Dave Norris

It gives me incredible hope for the future of this business that we have people who are still passionate, who are not like there's a lot of people that are saying, why would you get it to law enforcement now? We have people who are excited about it. And this is a guy who comes from a background of living in a very high crime environment, wanting to be the change and give back to the element that he has seen in a couple of different lights between the law enforcement and the public.


[00:03:39.410] - Dave Norris

And so we need to channel that. I know that you had a conversation, for example, with Chief Win from Pittsfield about what is the development and the redevelopment of the picture of Guardian versus warrior mentality and how we recruit. I think you've had this conversation with others as well. Look, I'm a big white guy, six foot five, former professional athlete. I was definitely what police agencies were looking for back when I got recruited in the early 90s. But what we're looking for now is not necessarily people who can just physically handle themselves.


[00:04:11.080] - Dave Norris

What we're looking for now is people who really can connect and serve their communities. And it's kind of a reverse process. We need to recruit people who really care who have tremendous soft skills. We teach them some defensive tactics. We can teach them how to be self-aware and defensive their own safety. But we really need those soft skills.


[00:04:30.940] - Steve Morreale

So excuse me for interrupting, but describe or define what you mean as soft skills. I understand them. But for everybody else, what does that mean? And by the way, do we train for that? Is that even in the curriculum? But go ahead, right?


[00:04:42.610] - Dave Norris

No, I agree. Not currently in what we consider to be an academic curriculum or an Academy curriculum. But I think that's changing, too. But along the lines of soft skills, what we're talking about is can you hold a conversation with people? We have cops now that we're recruiting that are much more comfortable sending someone a text message.


[00:04:59.110] - Dave Norris

Even if they're parked in front of their house in the next seat in a car. You know, you've been with kids where they're talking with each other.


[00:05:05.330] - Dave Norris

Quietly having that interactive conversation one on one. And so we need people who can have those conversations. We need people who are open and not defensive about talking with people from all different walks of life.



[00:05:17.710] - Steve Morreale

Can I be a little vile for a moment and just say, Listen, as you have, I've run many an interview panel interview for police officers and for DEA agents and such. And one of the things we don't say and this is going to be a little bit vile, but in my classes, I'll say, okay, everybody think about that chicken shit job that you had and tell me what you learned, because it seems to me that's pretty important, because what you're saying, that's where I'm going to learn my soft skills.


[00:05:41.230] - Steve Morreale

If I'm somebody who has to be the bagger at Target or I have to be the cashier or I have to go and run for something for you. You have to deal with difficult people. You have to be able to communicate. You have to be able to smile when you're not happy. These are things that become the foundation of what could be a very good police officer. Fair to say yes.


[00:05:59.640] - Dave Norris

And you have to transcend any sense of prejudgment or any sense of feeling like, you know what that person's thinking or that you're superior, right. And think about the greater purpose of that. So I'll give you a really good example that I was hoping I would have a chance to talk about here in my minor League baseball career. The very first rookie League team that I played on was the Johnson City Cardinals in Johnson City, Tennessee. That's where Middle Tennessee State University it is. And in Johnson City, we have people from Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic who were sending their whole meager $800 a month paycheck back home.


[00:06:33.050] - Dave Norris

And we also had a couple of guys on the team who were from the US and actually both of them from the San Diego area. One of them was an African American guy who was very well connected with a criminal street gang prior to his professional baseball career in the San Diego area. And the other one, a Latino guy, also connected in that type of an enterprise in his community in that same area in San Diego. So I won't necessarily call them rivals. But I'll say that those two guys played together as a team.


[00:07:04.320] - Dave Norris

They learned to high five each other when each other did something incredible on the field. And we were all there with the same purpose. And so how you kind of lay that out for your personnel and make sure that everyone understands what the greater purposes is a big part of what we do and fostering that team environment and understanding that what you're doing is for something greater than yourself. That's the theme that we need to develop. And I think that it's not something that cops haven't done.




[00:07:29.460] - Dave Norris

It's certainly something that good cops have done throughout history. But it is something that we need to lay distinctly out on the table now and make sure that all of our personnel know it.


[00:07:39.010] - Steve Morreale

So you've heard me ask this question before. Is policing customer service?


[00:07:43.130] - Dave Norris

Without question, policing is customer service?


[00:07:46.120] - Steve Morreale

Do your police officers believe that, or do you have to have sit downs discussions to set expectations that whether you believe it or not, we are a customer service organization.


[00:07:56.620] - Dave Norris

Yes, to both. I think that there are a lot of our personnel, both in my agency and in other agencies, who truly believe that their purpose is to provide peace and order and serve the public in the best way possible. I know we talked in a previous session about letting the Department know as a new chief, kind of opening my mind a little bit to them and saying, this is what your new chief is thinking about. So one of the things that I have impressed on them, and we talked about communication, sending an email out to the whole Department every Friday, and they're starting to get used to these Friday emails.


[00:08:25.110] - Dave Norris

Unfortunately, they're not bored from them yet. Little opportunities to give them a little bit of a piece of what I'm thinking. And so I actually brought something in from that black and blue podcast that I thought was important. So, Chris Swanson, who's the Sheriff in Genesee County. He is a multi-generational police officer. His dad was a Detroit cop, and he said that one of the things that his dad impressed on him is that the contact that you make with an individual in the public as a police officer sets them up for how they're going to feel about the next contact that they have with a police officer and how important that is.


[00:08:57.840] - Dave Norris

And that drives right up with my philosophy, which is to always try and leave people with a good taste in their mouth about the experience that they've had with you as a police officer, as a representative of the community that you serve. I gave them a little bit of a perspective on that. We need to make that happen. But we also take a step further and say we need to be empathetic to our emotional intelligence. I know you've talked about that here critically important. We need to understand that when we have that first moment of contact with the public that we have no DEA, what the experiences that they've had that have put them in the position to feel, however they feel when those red lights go on behind them, and we need to be cognizant of that, too.


[00:09:31.870] - Steve Morreale

Well, they're red lights where you are, they're blue light out our way, the flashing lights anyway. So let's continue the conversation. First of all, going back to that story you told me about the young officer coming up and asking what are you reading? What's on your bookshelf. I think that's important. But I do believe that the only way that that would have happened is if you created a sense of approachability. And that's my guess that you were trying to sell yourself as approachable and open receptive to ideas. Having said that, how do you drive that through the organization with the sergeants and the commanders? I guess that's all you have there your command staff and your supervisory officials.


[00:10:09.710] - Dave Norris

It's much easier in a small agency. I could tell you that you think you're forced into a more intimate situation with the personnel that you're serving with in a smaller organization. But I had an interesting conversation. So, you know, I come from an agency that's three times the size of this one. And I was on my way home, and I ran into one of the officers from my previous agency who was picking up food from a restaurant. And so I was asking her she had just been assigned to a special unit, asking her how things were going to a new unit.


[00:10:35.520] - Dave Norris

And she was asking me what's it like with your new agency. I said, here's the most profound thing for me, working in an agency three times the size on any given day. It would be very difficult for me to have a conversation with every member of the Department who was working on any given. This is a ceremony. Police Department. The building itself is a 500 square foot building with two floors. You have administrative on one side, detectives in a separate office. You have patrol it's out on the street.


[00:11:02.590] - Dave Norris

There's no way for me to reach out and touch everybody in a single day. But here in this organization, all I need to do is take a walk down the hall and pop into the supervisor's office and check in touch base or catch up with a briefing, walk into the detective's office, ask them how it's going, but I can reach out and put myself in connection with almost every member of the organization on a daily basis. And I think what's interesting about that is that there have been comments from the Department that we haven't always seen that from every chief.




[00:11:29.350] - Steve Morreale

Well, that's going to make you feel good. And I think that is what so many Chiefs and larger small departments have to have. Look, you're only as good as your people. You cannot do the job unilaterally. And actually, one of the things I had written down the last time we talked was the sense that I got from you is that you are very rarely. You are the decision maker, but you're very rarely going to make unilateral decisions without getting information and details and facts and points of view and opinions from as many people around you as possible that's inside and outside the organization.


[00:11:59.870] - Dave Norris

Absolutely true. You mentioned earlier in our first meeting about listening to be understood. Right? First. Understand to be understood.


[00:12:07.170] - Steve Morreale

Yeah. Seek first, yeah.


[00:12:08.560] - Dave Norris

Super important concept. One of the things that makes me approachable in the parking lot is those 30 to 60 minutes meetings that I'm having with members of the organization instead of it being what was described to me as being kind of a principal's office type meeting where I'm sitting behind my desk and they're sitting in front of the desk. I have a table here in my office. We sit at the small table.


[00:12:26.810] - Steve Morreale

I do exactly the same in several of the jobs where I've been in charge of operation or organization. I have insisted and got in trouble at one place when I was a federal agent saying, no, we don't buy roundtable. What do you need that for? I said, because I want to sit and talk and have coffee with people who come in. I do not want that barrier between the two of us. So I'm so happy to hear that.


[00:12:45.370] - Dave Norris

Right. And then the other thing that I've done that I hope to continue to do is if I'm in a day where I've got my lunch break and I don't have anybody to go to lunch with. And I see, like, today, yeah, I see one of the officers or one of the sergeants heading out to their car like, hey, did you get lunch yet? You want to just go grab lunch? They need to know who I am as a human being and as a person. And I need to know who they are in that same way.





[00:13:05.990] - Dave Norris

And the more of that you can do, especially in a small organization, the more of that becomes pervasive within the entire organization. And that feeling of sure I can come and knock on the cheese store and say, hey, folks, you got a second? I've got a question for you. It's an important part of the culture here is that approach.


[00:13:24.970] - Steve Morreale

Wait. And by the way, we're talking to Dave Norris. He's the chief of police in Menlo Park, California. Aren't you bucking the chain of command?


[00:13:34.330] - Dave Norris

Well, there are two parts to the chain of command, and there's a cultural part of this that's important, too. They need to know who their chief is, and they need to feel that their chief will listen. And so, yes, you can do that. You have to navigate, right, Steve? You have to be able to say, like, look, if you have issues that are things that need to be fixed that are part of that process, you need to go through your chain of command and talk to your Sergeant or commander about that.


[00:13:58.480] - Dave Norris

That's one thing. But I'm telling them, look, I'm sending out these Friday emails, and I have a little sticky note that I put on the side of my desk. I try and keep a running list of things that I want to talk about. But I told them I said I do not want to come in on Friday morning and just sit at my desk sunk it all up for myself and say, what am I going to put in the Friday email? I would much rather have the Department telling me that the last email that you wrote generated these questions or the last thing that we got from you said this, but it didn't say that.


[00:14:25.580] - Dave Norris

So can you tell us more about that part? I want this to be driven by the Department, so that what I'm giving them is valuable content. So that part of it is it does transcend that chain of command. You want to give the chief a little bit of insight on what should go out on the Friday email. You can knock on the door and do that if you need to talk about how you're doing business on the street, that's a change of command issue.


[00:14:45.840] - Steve Morreale

I understand that I was being facetious, and I know you knew that. I'm thinking so many people are listening that Sob is jumping over us, and that couldn't be further from the truth, right?



[00:14:54.580] – Dave Norris

That's right. And you have to take a holistic approach when you're brand new. I was very lucky coming into this organization, first of all, working within this county and coming off of a year where I was the President of county commander. So I had a good working relationship with all the captain level and commander level people in the county. I have a good working relationship with all the Chiefs of police in this county. And I knew some people who were part of the core of this Department that I've known for many years.


[00:15:17.390] - Dave Norris

So there's a little bit of a credibility that I didn't have to scramble for coming in as a new chief. But that means that I also have a reputation that I have to uphold, right? If people are saying, hey, he's a good guy to talk to. But I need to be that


[00:15:31.150] - Steve Morreale

Go back to San Mateo. And the development that you had to become a captain, be a Sergeant was a Sergeant, Lieutenant or Sergeant, captain Sergeant to Lieutenant to captain. Okay. So you have climbed the ladder. And so captain would have been sort of the number two sort of positions at San Mateo. Okay, so what kinds of training opportunities you get from that?


[00:15:50.920] - Dave Norris

So to get from officer to Sergeant, I took the Sergeant test three times. We carry 16 sergeants in San Mateo. I got passed up more than a dozen times, sat on the list, watched a lot of people get promoted. I need to ask myself questions about why is it not my time? What do I need to do? How do I need to get there and felt prepared to take the job on when I got promoted to Sergeant, and I realized that I probably was not prepared when I was getting passed up.


[00:16:14.760] - Dave Norris

And then as a Sergeant in the organization, I took on a position that none of the other sergeants wanted. And that was the public information officer position for a couple of reasons. Number one, I felt like I was in a position in my career where if I wanted to move into management, I had to just like I switched from pitching to hitting. I needed to learn the other side of the business relationship between the community and the police, relationship between the media and the police, and how all of that informed how we do business.


[00:16:40.600] - Dave Norris

And so I put myself in an uncomfortable position to take that on where none of the other servants wanted. That because I knew that it would be a good learning experience for me. And I was working under I had a chain of command. But when you're the Pio, you spend a lot of time working directly with chief. At the time, the chief was Susan Manheimer, who has a pretty national reputation as being excellent working with the community, an excellent political operator in the political environment, and quite a brilliant but very busy individual.


[00:17:07.240] - Dave Norris

And so I learned a lot about what I needed to look at to look at the policing business, very holistically, all the different factors that go into that. There's a lot of good learning that took place. And at the same time, what I saw was she took me to an IACP conference. I wrote a presentation that she was going to put on, and it was in the brand new field at that time of law enforcement, social media. And I said, well, I'll help you with this.


[00:17:29.820] - Dave Norris

But then you got to take me to San Diego conference. So she did. And after being in that environment, I thought, you know what I think that police chief is something down the line that I could educate myself into. So I waited about a year, and then we were in Philadelphia for the following conference, and I tried to take her aside and say, you know, Chief, I think this is something that I could do. And I figured that she was far enough out from her timeline.


[00:17:53.320] - Dave Norris

And I was far enough out from mine that might just sync up. So I tried to start that conversation. She wasn't ready to have that conversation. And so this is an important learning point, I think, for us. As I reached out to an outside mentor, someone who had experience was a President of the California Police Chiefs Association. And I said that my chief isn't ready to start mentoring me. But I feel like I need to start my self education now. And he said, you know what he said.


[00:18:16.560] - Dave Norris

You're in luck. He said, I'm about two years out from retirement, and I want to do executive coaching when I retire so you can be my guinea pig. And so we started that mentor mentee relationship.


[00:18:25.950] - Steve Morreale

That's very helpful. Well, I will stop and interrupt you by saying that I think there's a valuable lesson you just threw at everybody. You can take the person who you work for into your confidence. But you can just as easily get information and guidance from outside of the organization. And it sounds like, in hindsight, reaching out to the second person was to your benefit. That might have been the place, because that could have could have submarined you.


[00:18:48.320] - Dave Norris

Right. Obviously, you have to do it cautiously and you have to do it right. But from a chief perspective, too, at that time, the chief was also looking at the fact that I probably have multiple people who are interested in being the choice. I need to be careful.


[00:19:00.930] - Steve Morreale

And you're down the line.


[00:19:03.310] - Dave Norris

Yeah. And now I take people down under my wing.


[00:19:06.410] - Dave Norris

And so they didn't hold any kind of grudges against


[00:19:09.610] - Steve Morreale

This isn't about being personal. But it's about the lessons that we learn over time about. Wow. Is that person approachable? Are they ready, or did I make a misstep? But let's talk about when did you go to the Command College?


[00:19:21.300] - Dave Norris

So I made an attempt to go to Command College as a young captain. So this was probably 2015 2016. I asked my cheap. I had asked previously to go to SMI P, the perfect program for your management and policing, and the timing just wasn't quite right for it. There had been a couple of people who had gone that the feedback wasn't what our chief was looking for. Being on the East Coast. It's a little bit different environment. Yeah.


[00:19:46.320] - Steve Morreale

This is the one that was in Boston.



In Boston. Right. I now see that they're doing a West Coast swing.


[00:19:51.870] - Dave Norris



[00:19:52.660] - Steve Morreale

Which I think is smart for PERF.


[00:19:54.320] - Dave Norris

Absolutely. And so that one didn't work out. But I still thought that I needed to do something. And so I pushed for command College in 20, 15, 20, 16. Did the application process. There's an interview process, got accepted, and then we had a total reshuffle of personnel at the command and executive level in our Department. And my chief looked at me and she said, I can't take you offline right now for that. I need you to kind of stay with what you're doing. And so I ended up putting it off for a full class rotation and get back into it.


[00:20:24.000] - Dave Norris

I think in 2017.


[00:20:25.530] - Steve Morreale

Okay. So you go there in 2017? Was it a game changer for you?


[00:20:29.160] - Dave Norris

It was much in the same way that your podcast is a game changer for me. It validates a lot of things that I'm thinking about. What it did for me was it gave me a different perspective. It definitely validated the fact that I felt like I was on the right track with what I was trying to learn. But the approach of command College is really interesting. So what they do at POST Command College in California. They bring one week every two months for a period of about 14 months.


[00:20:55.650] - Dave Norris

And each session they bring in experts who have nothing to do with law enforcement they have to do with academic areas that are outside and sometimes parallel to law enforcement, but trying to build skills outside of the conventional law enforcement path. And along with that, there's a bit of a thesis program that they have us on where you develop a thesis, something that's future facing ten to 15 years out for law enforcement, that you're going to develop enough of a publication on or enough of a paper on it that you could publish it in a law enforcement period.


[00:21:29.710] - Dave Norris

And so the theme that I developed and I was talking about was artificial intelligence. I was fascinated with the virtual assistant that pops up when you're trying to pay your gas and electric bill or when you're trying to work through your bank. Now everybody's got this pop up that shows up that says, hey, how can I help you?


[00:21:46.340] - Steve Morreale

Never mind our phones, Dave, when it says, hey, it looks like you're going to work. Do you want directions? Like what exactly?


[00:21:53.350] - Dave Norris

The technology is so good. Why aren't we using that? And where I want to direct that was online police reporting because it's such a thorough environment. And I could not shake the feeling that there were people who wanted to report crimes. That because it was so stale and uninviting of an environment without the interaction with a police officer that can help add value to that police reporting that there was something missing. And so what if we had a virtual assistant who could add in community policing skills, make that person feel like they were providing value to what they're reporting.


[00:22:24.760] - Steve Morreale

But here you are sitting in Silicon Valley.


[00:22:27.220] - Dave Norris



[00:22:27.620] - Steve Morreale

I mean, come on, if anybody's going to do it, I'm speaking with somebody I believe next week who is a police officer and now a reserve officer who was a Whiz kid and is now using sort of an AI concept for customer service. In other words, when somebody comes in and I will tell you, I'm not looking for a podcast to sell you anything. But when I heard about this customer service opportunity for policing, I thought, Well, I've got to let other people know that and what it basically is.


[00:22:55.010] - Dave Norris

And the way it explains it is when you buy from Amazon the next day. First of all, they're telling you, we got it. It's on the way it just got delivered. How was it and would you rate it? I mean, that's all AI, which you are saying and we are missing the boat we are.


[00:23:09.030] - Dave Norris

And what I can assure you about is that not only is your upcoming guests talking about it, but a lot of us are talking about it. And I'm on IACP's Police Professional Standards, Ethics and Image Committee. One of the committees is working on a public engagement tool that will be scalable to large and small agencies. And that's one of the things that we're looking at is how do we get immediate feedback from our community so that we know what that trust level is. We know what that satisfaction.


[00:23:33.330] - Steve Morreale

Well, Dave, what you're saying is that in your own way, you're being a futurist, and there is futurist criminal justice, if you will. But as time is waning, I want to get to something that you and I talked about before we jumped on. And that was your interest in helping people understand about the recruitment, the readiness for being a police chief and your own experiences. So share what you know, share what you're thinking.


[00:23:56.900] - Dave Norris

I think that one of the biggest questions that's being asked right now is why right now would anybody want to get into this job of being a police chief? Things are in flux in terms of the police image in the public. Lots of police Chiefs are saying this is a good time for me to go ahead and unplug and call it a career. Why would we want to do this right now? And I think that if you are truly a servant leader and you truly want to help the law enforcement culture, that there could not be a better time than the present to take on the responsibility of teeing up the law enforcement culture for the next ten to 15 years.


[00:24:31.020] - Dave Norris

And that does take a little bit of futuring. It does take a little bit of long term look at the horizon. And it really involves being motivated to do something for a culture that you're not going to be there personally, necessarily to see the fruits of that. And you have to be willing to know that you're going to be kind of in that foundational work and that you're setting up sustainable solutions. I hate Band-Aid solutions to problems like there are all kinds of things that we can do to put a Band-Aid on it, and to say that we're doing something, but to not have any sustainability to it, that would allow us to have multiple generations of cops wanting to do it.


[00:25:06.780] - Dave Norris

And so that's an important piece


[00:25:08.580] - Steve Morreale

Is policing in your mind, a profession?


[00:25:11.470] - Dave Norris

Absolutely. It is. Absolutely.


[00:25:13.720] - Steve Morreale

So let me interrupt you because you're the first person I've asked this on the podcast, and it troubles me. There's an awful lot of educated officers out there, but in many places, we only require a high school diploma. And there are arguments both for and against. For sure, there's a push towards a two-year degree, which is interesting. But can you see people from the outside looking at us? I'll count myself because I'm a prior law enforcement officer that you're not. You're more blue-collar than white collar.


[00:25:40.650] - Dave Norris

How do you argue that?


[00:25:41.750] - Dave Norris

No. I think that perception is absolutely true that it is looked at as a blue-collar profession. You know this because you've spoken with international guests who look at this professional completely differently in terms of how we get brought up in it. That because there's such a variety in the amount of education and specific training required to be a police officer across the 18,000 individual police agencies that we have in this country, there's real concern that where is that homogeneity? Where is that consistency? And how do we get that similar to what some other countries do?


[00:26:12.840] - Dave Norris

Right. We need to find some of those common threads. I know we were talking about how you look at the national narrative, and you see that there are common things that start to stack up that every part of the country is talking about. And I think if you talk about the standards of professionalism in policing, you would see a similar list that would come to the surface of specific types of training. Certainly, bias awareness, certainly good customer service, professionalism service to the community. Inclusion of community conversations, connection.


[00:26:43.790] - Dave Norris

Those things are critical. The use of force standards. How do we get those more consistent across the country? What do we do to answer the question of qualified immunity? How do we further professionalize that so it's not seen as a shield, but it's seen as something that should be provided to people who are providing public service. A lot of those questions, I think we would be well served to answer those consistently. And I know that a national police College, not in terms of an academic progression, but in terms of a group that sets and keeps standards, which I think, yeah.


[00:27:14.960] - Dave Norris

I think you and Renee Mitchell talked about that, and I think that you talked about that with some others. It's something that we definitely need to see in the future.


[00:27:21.990] - Steve Morreale

Well, it's great to hear. I've been so lucky. I wrote a couple of things down. I think I'm not trying to play the Devil's advocate here because I believe that there is in order to become an eager an FBI agent, an ATF agent. You need a four-year degree. Not so in policing, but you're not going to get promoted without a degree. Right. Go ahead.


[00:27:39.560] - Dave Norris

And in fact, in California, there's legislation that's moving its way through right now to elevate the minimum age for hiring to 25 or 21 with a four-year degree. So that is something that is coming on the horizon. But I want to talk about how we need to get there, because currently within our organization, we have some really talented senior staff members. I'm not just talking about Memo Park. I'm talking about nationwide really talented senior staff members who did not have those standards when they came into the business and who have through the school of hard knocks.


[00:28:12.010] - Dave Norris

If you want to call it that or through on the job training and talent building are incredible leaders. And we need to be able to keep those people in service as well as setting the definition for the people. Yeah.


[00:28:23.040] - Steve Morreale

Well, it seems to me that we'd be willing to grandfather those. But I also think that there are so many organizations of which you are a part of California Chiefs Police Foundation, the Police Executive Research Forum, MCCA, Major City Chiefs, the International Association of Chiefs of Police. I'm watching what's happening, and I think the committees that you're talking about are really paying attention to what's going on. I mean, I know you get the emails, I get the emails, I get the documents that can be very valuable, because it does help not to sway the national conversation, but it helps police Chiefs to understand that they're not in it alone.


[00:28:57.500] - Dave Norris

And just a quick Sidebar on this degree thing. The other thing that this legislation is going to do is if we are hiring nothing but police officers with four year degrees or at least two year degrees, then at some point who we promote, they need to have those degrees as well, right. Because they're going to be being looked at by the officers that they're serving to say, well, I want the person who's directing to have at least an equivalent education to what I have.


[00:29:24.900] - Steve Morreale

I think that's when you look at the education generally, it's not unusual to say that you will not. If you have a master's degree, you're not going to teach in a master's program. And I'm not saying that's across the board, but that's the mindset that you will always have a degree higher than the people you supervise or that you are teaching. So there's an awful lot that we talked about, who knows where we go as we wind down the road. But as time is against us, I want to ask a couple of questions for the end.


[00:29:51.380] - Steve Morreale

What are your core values, Dave?


[00:29:53.870] - Dave Norris

Number one is what we talked about earlier, making sure that in that interaction with the public that you're leaving them with as close to a good feeling about the interaction with us as you can. One of the things that has warned me the most coming up as an athlete and then moving into law enforcement profession, is that the common thread there. We represent something larger than ourselves, right. We've got a patch on our sleeve that has the jurisdiction that we represent. We might have a badge that shows the level of responsibility that we have, and we need to pay attention to those things with everything that we do.


[00:30:26.500] - Dave Norris

So part of that is making sure that your driving force is to serve well, but leave a good impression because we are the representation of our government that's on the street 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's part of it. Leadership core is two things I talk about north stars and Champions. You have to set good north stars for your personnel and make sure that they have something that's easy for them to understand. So one of the things that has happened nationwide is a dip in proactivity by police and our agency not having leadership that's pointed them or supported them in any direction.


[00:30:59.030] - Dave Norris

Because we haven't had the consistent chief. I gave them what I call the four PS, that is. And I have it up on my whiteboard here in the office, prepared, polished, professional, and Proactive. And if you're doing the first three and you're prepared, polished and professional, then you have every bit of support for me to do the fourth, which is to be Proactive because you're giving us a good impression you're going to be able to do it right. That's just an example of how you set North Stars and then Champions.


[00:31:22.590] - Dave Norris

I think we've talked about a little bit making sure that whatever messages you're putting out there are organically developed through the organization. And then the third part is making sure that you understand it's not for you. It's for those around you, especially as a leader. What you're doing is elevating the game of the people around you.


[00:31:37.070] - Steve Morreale

That's terrific. So last question, if you had the opportunity to talk to anybody who is famous who has impressed you, whether they're dead or alive, who would you like to sit down and pick their brain.


[00:31:47.320] - Dave Norris

I'm going to give you a different answer than you're typically getting. I think on this because it's a broader answer. So I think that networking is so important to me and who I am. And you've talked to so many people who have been on my radar and who I admire, as Jerry Radcliffe has in his podcast. And I think about how could I leverage that or maximize that? And I think if I was going to do that and I'd say, Well, I'd love to be the wingman of somebody like a Chuck Wexler who oversees Perth and just tag along with him through an IACP or Perf conference with all of those incredible people who he brings up and gathers around him, because I just think that listening to the big minds in the business is so important and understanding that there's always someone who can give you something that's of value, whatever I could do to put myself in an environment where those conversations are happening. That would be my ideal.


[00:32:37.180] - Steve Morreale

When you're active at the IACP and concurrently with the IACP. If you remember PERF, you can always be invited to the town hall meetings. I've gone to them, and they're very interesting. The benefit is that we talk about critical incident, and we talk about recruiting and retention and all the problems well being. But between the IACP, PERF and Police Foundation, they are always focused on these important issues in policing. And it's so important. I mean, imagine I know that there are people out there that would love to get rid of police, but I'm not sure what this country would be or our communities would be without police that we can rely on 24/7.


[00:33:08.790] - Dave Norris

So there's another question that you typically ask love to throw you an answer on.


[00:33:12.420] - Steve Morreale

Well, why don't you ask the question and then answer it too there, bigshot.


[00:33:16.030] - Dave Norris

All right. The question that you're asking is, who do you think would be good for a podcast? And I listened to one that Jay Ratcliffe did with who's with Arizona State University. And Ed was actually talking about crowd control stuff. But he has a book called Transforming the Police that he didn't get too much into with Jerry that I think would be excellent for you to talk about. So this book is done in the form of a series of essays on a number of police reform topics, and the essays are done by some of the biggest names in the business with an essay and then a response essay from another big name in the business.


[00:33:51.390] - Dave Norris

I am fascinated with this book. I think it covers all of the stuff.


[00:33:55.710] - Steve Morreale

Well Dave, do they have big words in it? Do you have to look them up every now and then?


[00:34:01.510] - Dave Norris

A lot of bigger shots than me out there, Steve?


[00:34:06.070] - Steve Morreale

Well, listen, I appreciate that we have had the pleasure of talking for the second time with David Norris, who is the chief of police in Menlo Park, California. I appreciate your input, your insight to call you a thought leader. I don't mean to minimize it seems to me you're doing it on the ground level that's so important and spreading the word. And the way I look at this, you walk in as a new chief. You've got some things to prove, but you can't do it individually. The team mindset that you bring from being a professional athlete becomes very important.


[00:34:35.300] - Steve Morreale

Basically, you're the coach.


[00:34:36.620] - Dave Norris

It is a team effort all the way around. Whether it's any email that I address to members of the Department, it's always to the team. I consider this whole cadre of experts that we have nationwide as being one big team. Everybody's working towards the goal of trying to find a way to make police be the most effective and the most valuable that it can be to society. And so it is a team effort all the way around.


[00:34:57.950] - Steve Morreale

The last thing I say is what I've been hearing from you in both cases. And so many of the other Chiefs. It is about you speaking on their behalf. You engaging them. You giving them hope that we will dig ourselves out of the problems that have been created in the United States without hope. What the hell is there?


[00:35:12.770] - Dave Norris

That's right. We need to tee it up for that next generation of police and give them the confidence to push it through everything in this industry. We need police, right? We need police to provide safety to the public. That's not going to change how we do business might change a little bit, but that need is not going to change. So what do we do to keep people with their eyes on the price?


[00:35:31.040] - Steve Morreale

That's great.


[00:35:31.600] - Steve Morreale

Thank you very much. I really appreciate your time and effort, Dave.


[00:35:34.130] - Dave Norris

Thank you so much.


[00:35:34.860] - Steve Morreale

Steve, thanks a lot. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for listening to The Cop Talk podcast. I'm Steve Moriah in Boston. We've been talking with Dave Norris in Menlo Park, California. Thanks. And look forward to hearing from you. You can reach out for me. The CopDoc 



[00:35:52.390] - 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 at Check out our website copdocPodcast.Com. Please take the time to share a podcast with your friend.


[00:36:24.120] - Steve Outro

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.


[00:36:47.140] - Steve Outro

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


[00:36:58.390] - 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.