Bismarck and Mandan Police Departments see support from city leaders

Published: Jun. 12, 2020 at 6:54 PM CDT
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The Minneapolis City Council may be taking steps to defund or disband the police department, Bismarck and Mandan city leaders say that won't happen here.

Bismarck and Mandan city commissioners describe their relationship with their respective police departments as transparent.

In return, Chief Draovtich and Chief Ziegler said they feel they have the backing of the city and community more than ever during this time of uncertainty.

In a city less than 400 miles away, weeks of protests have sparked calls to disband the Minneapolis Police Department.

Here in central North Dakota, the situation is much different.

"I would imagine the issues that existed must have been so extreme, that the solution that they came up with would be disbanding. And our department as the portfolio holder is not in that position," said Shawn Oban, Bismarck city commissioner.

Oban said the department has always been transparent with the community and city leaders.

"We always get what we need to keep Bismarck going, and all the commissioners I've ever known, they want the same things that we do," said Bismarck Police Chief Dave Draovitch.

Draovtich says the Department values giving back to the community.

Many times, officers are recognized by those they've helped in Bismarck.

"You'd be surprised how many times the officer will run into a person later and thank them for treating them well and helping them. A lot of times it’s what they needed to get their life back on track," said Draovitch.

Both Commissioner Oban and Chief Draovtich are reassured the Police Department is well established in the community.

"I feel like the relationship we have with our department, is that we would never get to that point. We have no intent on cutting anything," said Oban.

Across the river in the City of Mandan, retired Police Chief Dennis Rohr holds the Department portfolio on the City Commission.

"I can honestly say there has never been a time when they didn't support the police department. Now, I didn't always get everything I ever wanted in the budget, but there was never any desire in any commissioner to repress or not provide the best public service possible," said Rohr, a Mandan City Commissioner.

Jason Ziegler said his Department has always been admired by city leaders.

"I've been very fortunate with my commission, that there is an extreme understanding on the needs of policing and the needs of having a well-trained police department," said Ziegler, Mandan Police Chief.

With programs that reward residents in the community, Ziegler said the department is well supported.

"I think it’s a combination of the police being out in the community and their faces, people knowing them, our officers stopping and going inside stores, and talking to people and the community connections we have, and it’s also part of the community wanting us to be a part of them," said Ziegler

Commissioner Rohr added officers have always strived to do what is best for the Mandan community.

"What people cannot do is let these outside actions from someplace else impact how support how they think of their own Police Department," said Rohr.

Two weeks ago, protests in Bismarck showed not everyone backs law enforcement.

With that being said, the city commissioners we spoke to feel what happened in Minneapolis during the George Floyd arrest would not happen here in Bismarck or Mandan.

All four men have re-assured the disbanding and defunding of Police Departments around the country would not happen here.

They said their purpose is to serve the community while being a part of it.