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New Rochester Police Chief settles into role

August 27, 2018

Rochester might be known as the Destination Medical Center, but for new Rochester Police Chief James Franklin, the department is a destination organization.

“It’s not an organization that is broken,” he said this week. “I’m coming down here to add value and to continue to strengthen the great work that they are already doing.”

Franklin recently sat down with the Post Bulletin to discuss his plans for the future of the Rochester Police Department.

During the joint swearing-in ceremony of Franklin and Rochester Fire Chief Eric Kerska, Franklin gave the community a glimpse of his goals for the department.

The goals, he said Wednesday, are the foundational pillars of any law enforcement agency. They include:

• Reducing crime through prevention, intervention, education and enforcement.

• Continuing the development of the department.

• Positively and proactively contributing to the growth and vitality of the city while ensuring the department’s mission matches that of the city.

• Attaining the highest level of community engagement possible.

Franklin said he has several ideas and initiatives when it comes to diversity within the department. At less than four weeks into his new role, he said he isn’t ready to share them with the public yet.

“I think it’s important for the law enforcement agency to be reflective of and responsive to the community that it serves,” Franklin said.

Also on Franklin’s mind for the future is what he calls a “downtown beat initiative.”

“I believe in that beat concept, where cops are there — geographically assigned. They own it. They know the businesses, they know the neighborhoods, they know the communities and they are engaging,” he said. “They are out of their cars, they are walking around, they are on foot, they are on bike, they are talking to people and they are dealing with and engaging the issues of that area.”

Franklin was introduced to beat policing during his time with the Metro Transit Police Department. He began as a part-time transit officer while still working as a full-time officer with the Plymouth Police Department.

He said he joined the transit police as a way to diversify his law enforcement career and gain additional experience. Already with the Plymouth Police Department, Franklin served as a patrol officer, school resource officer in both the middle school and high school, field training officer, SWAT officer and detective.

When the opportunity arose in 2007 to join the Metro Transit Police Department full-time, Franklin took it and worked his way up, serving as an administrative lieutenant before being promoted to captain.

Being part of what he saw as a progressive law enforcement agency attracted Franklin to Rochester.

“First and foremost, I think Rochester has a great reputation for being a very professional organization,” he said. “(I’ve been) impressed with the professionalism and the talent of the officers — the men and women who serve in this organization.”

Franklin has so far met with about 60 members of the department and said he plans to touch base with all 206 of the department’s employees by September. Following his introductions to the department, Franklin said he plans to start the relationship-building process with different groups in the community.

Franklin comes from a law enforcement family and said he knew from an early age that he wanted to be a police officer. His father served as chief of police in the community he grew up in, and he has uncles and cousins who have also served as police officers.

A graduate of Metropolitan State University with a baccalaureate in law enforcement and a master’s degree in public administration, Franklin also has done professional training with the Center for Homeland Defense and Security – Naval Postgraduate School as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Law Enforcement Executive Development program.

The father of six celebrated his 21st wedding anniversary last week.

“I’m super excited to get my family down here,” Franklin said.

Frankin said Rochester has been incredibly welcoming and friendly.

“It has been absolutely wonderful,” he said.

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