Q&A with Auburn Police Chief Doug Harp
Below is a Q&A with new Auburn Police Chief (APD) Doug Harp. A few things to know about Chief Harp:
- He has been in law enforcement for 30+ years.
- He most recently served as commander of the NET43 multi-agency drug task force in Kosciusko County. Prior to that, he was sheriff in Noble County for eight years.
- He’s been married to Renee for 36 years.
What attracted you to Auburn and the APD?
For starters, I’ve always been interested in this city because my wife’s family has roots in DeKalb County. Because of that, we’ve spent time here over the years. It’s the type of city you visit, drive through and think, “What a really nice place.”
Also, I’ve been impressed with the growth Auburn has experienced in recent years. When I met Mayor Ley and heard about his vision for Auburn, I thought it would be an exciting time to be here and contribute to his vision. Bringing this type of vision to life requires buy-in from various departments and stakeholders. Law enforcement is one of those departments with a vested interest in the community as a whole.
Finally, in my previous roles, I have known and worked with many APD officers. I knew the caliber of people that comprise the Auburn Police Department—quality people, good officers and a department with a reputation as a very good agency. And I wanted to be a part of it.
Are there certain goals/programs you’re working on?
I definitely have some things in mind, but right now I’m still learning—there are differences in how county and city police departments operate. I’m also learning the flow here and the skill sets of our officers and their different interests and areas of specialty.
I do know I want to work toward more multi-agency collaboration and support. Many agencies are doing more with less so if we can share resources, it will be beneficial for every agency. Plus, like the Mayor, I believe that what benefits the greater DeKalb County ultimately benefits our city as well.
And with my background in the NET43 drug task force, trying to impact this social issue is high on my list. Every community needs resources to help decrease drug use and provide support for those struggling with addiction.
You started your career as a social worker—how does that influence you now in law enforcement?
Every officer’s background contributes to how he or she functions as an officer. Certainly, my start as a social worker plays into my approach and style—I think it helped me overall and made me a better officer. The truth is, though, every member of law enforcement is in social work, whether or not they realize it or want it. Understanding that gives us all a better perspective of how to help. While we pursue criminals and work to stop illegal behavior, officers are also about trying to help others.
The APD recently hired another female officer, doubling the number of women on the force. Are you actively trying to recruit more women?
We need more females—and minorities—in law enforcement. They are an asset. I’ve seen that for years as I watched my sister. She was a deputy U.S. Marshall before she retired. In fact, it’s her I credit for getting me into law enforcement. So I feel strongly that women are a strength to any police force as well as the community they serve. The challenge is in recruitment, not just of women, but in general. It’s difficult to get young people interested in a career in law enforcement. And once you get them, you have to retain them because the hiring market is very competitive today with less available candidates. This is something being experienced nationwide, so it’s on my radar to actively address as we think about the longevity of our force.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’m laid back, approachable and open to suggestions. I try every day to do the right thing. If I do the right thing for my department and the city, I sleep better at night.