Columbia Heights Police Chief accepts position as Maplewood Public Safety Director

After nine years of strong leadership, Columbia Heights Police Chief Scott Nadeau will be taking on a new role as Maplewood Public Safety Director.

After nine years of strong leadership, Columbia Heights Police Chief Scott Nadeau will be taking on a new role as Maplewood Public Safety Director on Aug. 7. (Sun Focus staff photo by Sarah Burghardt)

The decision was announced on June 28 by the City of Maplewood.

Nadeau has been leading the Columbia Heights Police Department for nearly a decade. When he first took on the position, Nadeau said the police department was more “traditional” in responding to calls for service.

“In the nine years that I’ve been here, it’s really become much more part of the community,” he shared as he looked back on his time in the city.

The police department has transformed under his leadership with numerous community-oriented initiatives. Over the years, the department has formed strong partnerships with stakeholders, as well as strengthened its bond with the city’s diverse population through the establishment of its Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee and many community dialogue events. Additionally, with excessive force currently being a hot topic in the state, Columbia Heights is at the top of the list in the metro area when it comes to the amount of training hours contributed to de-escalation and crisis prevention techniques. The department is committed to sending all of its officers through Crisis Intervention Team training by the end of the year and has held training sessions to help officers become more trauma-informed and eliminate implicit bias.

According to the Columbia Heights Police Department 2016 annual report, crime rates have continued on a downward trend. In the report, Nadeau said the agency is well versed in identifying problems early, adopting proactive methods of response and working with community and strategic partners to mitigate crime and community problems promptly and effectively.

Proactive training

In 2015, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report was introduced to public safety departments across the nation.

“[The report] was meant to be a blueprint of American law enforcement, how you can build trust and transparency, work toward racial equity and form more partnerships rather than strictly enforcement,” Nadeau said. “We were really encouraged as an agency because so many of the things that they talked about were things that we are already doing.”

Some initiatives included transparency by means of body cameras, hosting community dialogues and being responsive to community concerns.

Although the Columbia Heights Police Department is incredibly proactive, Nadeau said there are always ways to continue to make progress.
“I’m really excited about the continued future of the police department and where it will go with new ideas, new energy and people stepping up into different leadership roles once I leave,” Nadeau said.

“I’ll be closely monitoring the continued progress and developments here in the city,” he added.

“It was a difficult decision as to whether or not to leave Columbia Heights because the community here is doing such great things and is really progressive under its current leadership. I’ve been very well supported by the community in the time that I’ve been here but with that being said, there are new challenges and opportunities in a new city.”

New challenges await

In his new role as Maplewood Public Safety Director, Nadeau will be overseeing the city police department, fire department and EMS service. Maplewood has a population of about 40,000 and has a growing diverse community comparable to Columbia Heights.

With similar demographics, Nadeau said there are some initiatives that could be transferable to Maplewood.

“As I transition to Maplewood, I’ll start by looking at how they do their business. Then I’ll start thinking about some of the takeaways that worked really well here and how I can bring those into Maplewood,” he said.

Maplewood Assistant City Manager Mike Funk said the city’s hiring process was robust with multiple phases. The candidates completed in-depth writing exercises, participated in community meet-and-greets and performed an executive leadership assessment. They also attended many panel interviews, consisting of community members, city staff and members of the Maplewood Police Department. In addition, the candidates met for individual interviews with the Maplewood mayor and city council.

Maplewood City Manager Melinda Coleman was not included in the process until the very end when she had one-on-one interviews with each candidate. Coleman carefully evaluated the scored results of each phase.

“It was really tough decision,” Coleman said. “Our three finalists were all excellent candidates, and each has a long and distinguished law enforcement career.”

“Many hours of hard work were put in by our staff and several Maplewood residents during the hiring process with the shared goal of finding the best person for the job,” Coleman said. “With Scott’s hiring, we have achieved that goal.”

According to Funk, “in the end, Scott Nadeau was consistently ranked the highest in scoring and all three interview panels were in agreement  that Nadeau was the right person for the job.”

Nadeau is scheduled to begin as Maplewood Public Safety Director on Aug. 7 on condition of passing results of a pending psychological test.