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EXCLUSIVE: New police chief discusses public’s needs from top cop

Updated: Sep. 12, 2021 at 10:00 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Honesty, an openness to diversity and no politics: all things mentioned by people giving their opinions earlier this year on what they wanted from Lincoln’s next police chief. Two weeks into the job, Chief Teresa Ewins sat down with 10/11 NOW’s Kelsie Passolt, talking about what’s important to Lincoln. Below is Part 2 of that conversation. Part 1 can be found here.

Kelsie: “When they were searching for a new police chief, they had a survey for the public with characteristics they wanted to see in the next police chief. The most common characteristics include honesty, integrity, empathy and humility. What experiences have you had that help you match these characteristics?”

Chief Ewins: “My career has really taking me down a lot of different roads, challenged me in many ways, my way of thinking, and our role in law enforcement. All of those characteristics are about who I am today, in that I take responsibility first and foremost with what happens in this department. I should be expected to answer those questions if something goes well or doesn’t go well. Integrity is about that, being forward and being very open to criticism as well. I’m okay with that. I won’t shy away.”

Kelsie: “The other thing many people listed was to possess a strong willingness to listen to diverse perspectives and be able to learn from mistakes.”

Chief Ewins: “Learn from mistakes, absolutely. That’s who I’ve been. Again, I’ll be in front saying that if I made a mistake or bad decision, or our department did, I’ll be the first one to say that’s my responsibility and we’ll learn from that. I want to have a big chunk of my time to go out to communities and listen. That’s the number one thing that has to happen. I plan on having town halls. I plan on being out there. If people are upset, I want to hear why. I’ll have an open door policy on Friday afternoons from our [department] members as well, because they live and were raised in Lincoln. They know better than I about this department and what needs to change.”

Kelsie: “A direct quote from the survey is ‘No politics, keep everyone safe no matter what your views are.’”

Chief Ewins: “We’re Switzerland. We don’t take sides. Politics can play out however they want to play out, but we have a job to do. We need to understand the communities and our city partners, but ultimately we’re Switzerland, because that’s our role.”

There’s a lot more to the discussion about diversity when it comes to recruiting new police officers. Look for that story on 10/11 NOW this week.

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