Improvement plan for Fargo Police Department, chief released

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:25 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - For the first time in two months we are seeing the improvement plan put in place for the Fargo Police Department and its chief in an effort to combat morale and staffing issues.

City commissioners ordered the plan for the department back in January after a Valley News Live investigation uncovered 35 officers had resigned from the department in less than 18 months citing a toxic work environment and poor leadership.

The plan was penned by Chief David Zibolski in late March, with one of his first goals being to improve what he came under fire for earlier this year: Recruitment, retention and satisfaction within the department.

Zibolski claims his department’s most recent recruiting class has more potential new officers, 30 recruits, than any other academy in the state and most in Minnesota.

He also wrote rather than learning about various issues within the department from employees when they leave the job, the department is working on addressing problems and finding solutions before it gets to a breaking point, as it’s now conducting what the city calls ‘stay* interviews.’ Zibolski wrote he’s also discussed several other ideas to city leaders on how to better retain officers, but did not go into further detail.

Another goal listed in his plan tackles mental health of his officers; A point previous exit interviews stated was not valued or emphasized within the department.

Zibolski wrote the department has already been working on addressing mental health as it’s been seeking out law enforcement specific mental health providers, as well as expanding the department’s exercise room. He states officers also recently went to a conference to learn how to create a ‘robust officer wellness program’ for Fargo Police.

In January, commissioners criticized Zibolski for keeping department concerns and issues to himself. Both the city and Zibolski state he has worked on changing and now meets weekly with the liaison city commissioner and other city leaders.

As for parts of the plan that are completed, the City of Fargo says Zibolski provided this plan to commissioners before the April 1 deadline, and state he successfully finished his one-on-one interviews with all FPD staff members. However, it’s unclear if commissioners or other city leaders are having their own meetings with those staff members as well.

As for what’s next, the city says there are many long-range elements still in the works. Zibolski is expected to give further updates to commissioners on his progress of the plan at a future commission meeting.

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