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Assessment of WPD critical

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news Worthington, 56187
Daily Globe
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Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON — Because of issues brought to the city’s attention, a workplace assessment was recently performed on the Worthington Police Department.

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Within that report, a section titled “yelling and bullying” was one of the many issues covered.

“We have what’s called a respectful workplace policy,” City Administrator Craig Clark said. “We’ve reiterated that to our employees and the importance of maintaining that, and what folks should do in the instance they feel that it’s not being abided by. We’re reiterating that and moving forward to ensure everyone understands the respectful workplace and how we all can rest assured that is happening.”

The report also talks about elected officials undermining department activities.

“There’s a very specific organizational structure that we operate within,” Clark said. “It’s important to be mindful of our structure and how things best operate, especially given the realities of protected data, information that can be shared and can’t be shared. Being able to maintain effectively through the proper administration is what that comment is geared toward.”

The assessment is not a routine check done by the city, but was prompted by specific complaints.

“Issues that were related to the police department were brought to city officials — (they) prompted the workplace assessment and the need for it,” Clark said. “We hired a third party to conduct an assessment to identify any problems or issues that may be leading to conflict or dissatisfaction in the work environment, and to assist employees across the organization in understanding perceived problems that are impacting the organization and its members and identifying any organizational strengths and assets that may be leveraged to address issues of concern.”

The report was completed by William Everett of the firm Everett and VanderWiel of Buffalo at a cost of $13,012.52 to the city. A copy of the report was provided to the Daily Globe, but much of it was redacted.

“The report speaks for itself as far as areas that were identified as a concern,” Clark said. “The redacted portions — it’s important for folks to realize that there are Minnesota statutes, Section 13.43, that have strict provisions for private data and data that’s private personnel information. We’re not able to share that publicly because of the statutory limitation.”

According to the report, individuals were interviewed in 30- or 45-minute sessions. All interviews were done voluntarily. The interviews were conducted Aug. 7-9, with the report dated Sept. 11.

The report said most viewed the department as having achieved a high level of job satisfaction among the workforce. Of the 28 current and former employees interviewed anonymously, 24 provided ratings of their job satisfaction. The median job satisfaction was a 7.25.

However, the report said the department is split into two identifiable groups.

The larger group is officers who describe themselves as being aligned with one another because they all enjoy being productive at work and share productivity as a common value. The mean job satisfaction among that group is 8.2.

The smaller group believes it has been excluded from the larger group and, by default, has banded together for support and companionship. The mean job satisfaction among the smaller group is 3.

Clark said the city is considering action.

“I’m not able to share with you the specific actions we’re taking,” Clark said. “But we’re considering all appropriate action to respond to the report administratively and as an employer.”

Individual responses were provided in the report, with many naming the work as an area of satisfaction. However, too much religion was a dissatisfaction on many responses. Others included “unnecessary drama, lack of face-to-face communications and people who grumble and enjoy conflict.”

While much of the “yelling and bully” section was redacted, the report did say, “There were a handful of consistent reports of ‘bullying.’”

The final portion of the report deals with elected officials.

“Some employees presented the assessor with examples of what they believed were inappropriate instances of elected officials involving themselves in the management of the police department,” the report read.

It continued: “Elected officials must be mindful that even well-intended activities must be executed thoughtfully to avoid undermining the organization’s chain of command or unwittingly empowering specific employees. Elected officials and department heads may benefit from dialogue with one another about how to avoid the negative consequences that can result from over-involvement in management activities.”

“There is specific structure with how personnel issues are to be handled,” Clark said. “That’s what we’re trying to ensure.”

This report will “not likely” go in front of the city council, Clark said, but has been handled through administration. He added that he couldn’t comment on how the city was moving forward “because that likely would result in discussion of private protected data — I’m not able to comment on that.”

When it comes to the gravity of the situation, Clark said the report speaks for itself.

“We wouldn’t have commissioned the assessment if there weren’t areas raised of significant concern,” he said. “We want to have a positive work environment, and a workplace assessment is a tool to help ensure that as best as possible.

“It was significant enough for us to proceed forward with a workplace assessment. From there, we’ll take appropriate action moving forward to address the concerns that were raised in the assessment, and beyond that, I can’t comment.”

He did say there were some positives that came from doing the assessment.

“The positive is being able to take steps to make sure we have the best police department that is possible,” Clark said. “You can’t correct something you don’t know about. Being able to do the workplace assessment enables us to better, from an administration standpoint, appreciate the dynamic that’s going on within our police department.”

Director of Public Safety Mike Cumiskey directed all questions on the matter to Clark.

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