Krueger emphasizes teamwork

Published 1:41 pm Monday, September 6, 2010


Police Chief Brian Krueger is one of two new chief positions filled over recently weeks together with Fire Chief Mickey Healey. - Eric Johnson/

 This is part of a two-story special highlighting the common philosophy of teamwork shared by the city’s new police chief and fire chief. With less than a month on the job, both Police Chief Brian Krueger and Fire Chief Mickey Healey are tackling the task of implementing new leadership structures within their organizations. See The Herald online or in print Sunday for stories on both Krueger and Healey.

For recently appointed Austin Police Chief Brian Krueger, the word team means much more than simply a group of people working together to attain a goal. Teamwork has played a vital role in the last 26 years of Krueger’s life with the Austin Police Department, and he hopes to maintain a sense of complete trust, honesty and communication within the department as he moves forward in his position.

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“I’ve always had a team-oriented outlook on police work,” Krueger said. “You have to trust the guy in front of you and the guy behind you with your life. It’s like a family.”

Krueger has played many roles within the department in the nearly three decades that he has been there, but one of his proudest accomplishments is his 14 years as the Special Incident Response Team leader. Krueger’s former assistant SIRT leader, David McKichan, has taken over his role as team leader. “I’m going to miss it tremendously, but it’s a conflict of interest,” Krueger said.

Police Chief Brian Krueger works at his desk Thursday morning at the Law Enforcement Center. -Eric Johnson/

The SIRT leader reports to the police chief after an incident, and playing both roles at once simply wouldn’t work. Krueger plans to implement the teamwork strategies he learned in his many years with SIRT in his new role as chief, and so far everything is running smoothly, he said.

“It has been quite a smooth transition,” Krueger said. “We have an outstanding supervisory staff. I entrust them to carry out the best public safety possible.”

Part of Krueger’s team-oriented police work includes allowing every member of the department to feel comfortable enough to approach him with suggestions. He will also be holding a meeting in the near future with supervisory staff to get input on how the department should proceed under its new management.

“If the workplace is a happy place, the officers will be able to serve the citizens of Austin more efficiently,” Krueger said. “I want the entire department to be comfortable with the thought of having a suggestion box.”

Along with working towards opening up the communicative atmosphere of the department, Krueger wants to fill the APD captain position as soon as possible.

“I’m hopeful that by later this month there will be a test for captain,” he said.

The captain position will more than likely be filled by a detective, sergeant or lieutenant, Krueger said. Consequently, there will be an opening for whichever position is vacated, as well as two openings for patrolpeople.

Krueger said he is very proud to be working for the APD. “Between SIRT, APD, the Sheriff’s office and the task force, it has been a pleasure working with those people,” he said. He is particularly proud of Austin’s clearance rate, which indicates the percentage of reported incidents that the APD is able to resolve. Austin’s clearance rate in 2008 was 72 percent and in 2009 was 70 percent, which is quite high compared to Albert Lea and Owatonna, who are at about 61 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

“(Our clearance rate) shows how dedicated, proactive and hardworking our officers are,” Krueger said.

Krueger is also proud of the fact that in his 23 total years with SIRT, including the 14 years he spent as the team’s leader, the team never had to take a human life.

“All incidents have been resolved peacefully,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to not have to (take a life) in Austin or Mower County.”

Krueger replaced former police chief Paul Philipp after he retired earlier this year; Philipp has since been investigated for carrying out affairs using department time and resources. In a previous interview, Krueger said, “(Philipp) was very well respected. I want to continue that in my own way.” Krueger said he stands by the statement despite the allegations against Philipp. “Paul was very professional in the workplace. He brought a positive energy to the workplace and people looked up to that,” he said.

As the APD forges into the future with its new chief, Krueger is hopeful that he will improve the department and contribute to making Austin as safe as possible.

“I look forward to guiding this department and moving it forward and providing the best public safety possible for the citizens of Austin,” he said.