Maplewood Public Safety Director Scott Nadeau is retiring at the end of the month.
Although he’s been the city’s top cop for four years, he’s always led with a beat cop’s perspective.
It was during his routine patrols through Brooklyn Center in the 1980s and 90s that he formed his philosophy on community policing which he implemented in Maplewood. It’s a philosophy he will be passing on when he retires June 30 after 33 years on the thin blue line.
“When I was on a regular foot beat and interacted with people on a daily basis, that’s where I had that epiphany that we can’t use law enforcement alone to provide for the safety of the community,” he said. “The relationships really matter.”
And it’s relationships he’s worked on in Maplewood — requiring officers to get out of their squads and interact with residents, forming relationships with landlords and apartment managers to get a handle on crimes occurring in apartments and pulling in community members to advise on policy changes.
“In this climate, Chief Nadeau stands out as a leader who’s worked with community stakeholders at all levels to make our city safer,” said Mayor Marylee Abrams. “He’s increased transparency and public trust in every organization he’s led.”
While on the job, Nadeau increased the number of nontraditional officers by 125 percent. Thirteen of the last 18 police hires have been women and people of color.
He’s created a Multicultural Advisory Committee and helped establish a mental health outreach team in which police, firefighters and paramedics work together to identify people in the community who are at risk and then try to work with them by making proactive visits. He required every public safety employee to participate in at least 15 hours of outreach per year as part of their work.
“It’s been an amazing career,” he said. “and my Maplewood years have been some of the most productive.”
NEW CHIEF TO BE HIRED IN-HOUSE
City leadership is choosing to hire in-house in order to keep building on Nadeau’s policies.
“When an outside chief comes in, they bring in their own ideas and strategies and a new energy, and they end up shaping the department with their own worldview,” said Nadeau, who says he did exactly that. “But to have three outside chiefs in a row in 10 years, I think, would have introduced some stress on the agency and potentially had the effect of stymieing some of the progress that we’ve made.”
The candidate pool has been narrowed to three, and the new chief could be chosen in the next two weeks.
THREE DECADES OF SERVICE
Looking back over his 33 years in law enforcement, Nadeau said it’s never been boring and his best days have been when he’s connected with individuals in the community through service.
“I delivered a baby in the backseat of a cab in a Cub Foods parking lot,” he said, laughing. “That was pretty exciting!”
He worked his way up the ranks in Brooklyn Center and then was a chief in Columbia Heights for nine years.
On one of his most memorable days, he chased a bank robber in Brooklyn Center on foot, nabbing the suspect who had jumped into a stolen car and crashed up the block.
“I’m driving around, and one minute I’m, you know, sipping coffee and listening to the WCCO Morning Show and 30 seconds later, I’m chasing bank robbers through backyards,” he said. “It says something about the unpredictability of the job.”
He hasn’t gotten out of it unscathed.
“I got my leg broken in a car accident. I was stabbed in the arm, assaulted multiple times. I’ve been shot at,” he said. The cases involving children still haunt him, as do cases where the suspect got away because he couldn’t find enough evidence to convict.
Nadeau said he’s going to take a breather, and then he might focus on teaching.
“I teach at the University of St. Thomas in their master’s degree program; I teach some classes in the leadership program for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension,” he said. “I’m excited about continuing to teach and trying to give back.”