GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The Green Bay Police Department is now under the watch of an interim police chief. But he is no stranger to the city. The newly sworn in chief has decades of experience and the support of his peers.
In Green Bay City Hall a ceremony is held, as a 33-year police department veteran comes out of retirement to accept an appointment as interim police chief from the Green Bay Police and Fire Commission – to help guide the department after the retirement of Chief Andrew Smith.
“Very exciting, something I never really thought was an office I would hold. I never really aspired to it, but thankfully some people thought I did a good enough job that I could fill in for a while,” said Interim Police Chief Jim Runge.
“He’s a real, good, good guy. Two years without being in the police department. But I think he’s got a lot of gas left in the tank,” said Andrew Smith.
Over three decades Jim Runge has worn many hats here – from patrol to patrol supervisor, community policing, internal affairs and more, gaining a reputation as a good man and a solid officer.
“Despite all the noise out in the world now, I believe in this profession, I believe in the people,” Runge said.
Runge joined the department in 1985 as a police cadet and over the years advanced. But it was a move to the Community Policing Division after 18 years on the night shift, that opened his eyes and broadened his horizons.
“It’s not just catching the bad guy anymore. It is let’s partner up with these neighborhood associations, let’s partner up with the homeless group, let’s partner with city hall people. We’re not in this alone. We can only succeed if we work with our partners in the community,” Runge said.
A realization he carried with him when promoted to Commander of the Investigative Division in 2016, becoming a member of Chief Andrew Smith’s senior leadership team, focusing on community engagement, accountability and transparency.
“Oftentimes the accountability and the transparency is painful internally. But it has to happen for the community to trust this agency,” Runge said.
Runge says an investigation into racial harassment of officers by officers in 2016 led to the resignation of at least three and suspensions for many more. It was an internal investigation that Runge says was made public.
“If we have bad things happen and we just try to hide them, bury them, we can’t have community trust, they won’t trust us,” said Runge.
And Runge, in his role as interim chief for the next six months, say he’ll keep the department pointed down the path built by former Chief Andrew Smith.
“No big changes, they’ll be no big changes. Our policy and procedure here is rock solid. We’re top notch,” Runge said.
“He was a solid guy. Doesn’t get very emotional. He’s steady and I think he’s going to do a great job for the department until the city can decide who’s next going to lead it,” said Alderman Bill Galvin, a retired police captain.
“My goal is to get everybody here to settle down. Everything is good, go out and do your job, work hard, behave yourself, but just relax, have fun,” Runge said.
The Green Bay Police and Fire Commission is no longer accepting applications for the police chief job. They hope to hire a new chief by the fall.