With nearly two-and-a-half decades on the force, an easy smile and a thing for Dippin’ Dots, Eagan’s new police chief, Roger New, is engaging the community and ready to lead his department into the next chapter.
“I’m excited and honored to begin my role as Chief,” says New, “It’s a top department in the State and I’m proud of our reputation. But we need to be sure we keep serving and connecting,”
he says. “That’s a priority for me.”
As a husband and a father of two teens, FBI Academy grad and Saint Paul native, he began his career as an Eagan Community Service Officer (CSO) in 1994 and has called Eagan home for 17 years.
First interaction: Following his interview with then Chief Pat Geagan, New says it could have had a very different outcome. “When the Chief offered me the job, he said, we’re really impressed with you … and I said, ‘I’ll have to get back to you,’” he recalls with a laugh. “The look on his face.” Law enforcement was where his heart was at, but just before Eagan, New interviewed for a social services job and promised the interviewer he wouldn’t take a position before talking to her. “I couldn’t accept before I made that call. I think Pat was impressed by my loyalty…that I was someone who stood by his word…but I’ll never forget that look.”
Impressions of 1994 Eagan: “Coming out to the suburbs was a culture shock to me. They had snapping turtles here!” he says. “I remember my first snapping turtle call thinking, I became a
cop to arrest bad guys…and instead I’m called for snapping turtles in the road. Yea, that was a culture shock.”
Most Gratifying Moments: During his time on the force, New served as a DARE and School Resource Officer (SRO) before being promoted through the ranks. Years after SRO duty, he remembers a break at a local store when he saw a former Metcalf student, now 22 or 23, headed his way. “To be frank, he’d been a real pain… He put out his hand and said, ‘Mr. New, I want to apologize. I now understand what you were trying to do for me… you’re probably the reason I’m not in jail.’”
Making Connections: Whether on the job, at National Night Out, coaching for his kids’ teams or in his driveway with neighbors, New makes connections. “People will find that I am all about building positive community relations, it’s important to let our guard down so the community sees the job of being a police officer. It’s two years since we’ve had an officer involved shooting…it can take just one incident, perceived as ‘bad’ to turn the tide. That’s why building those connections in the community ahead of time and letting people see the job we do is so important. That’s one of the things I’ll really focus on during my tenure as Chief.”
As for Dippin’ Dots; it’s part of the annual New family outing to the State Fair, he calls it “a family thing” that typically includes: “my wife, my kids, my mom, aunts, uncles … we try to move 20 or 30 of us through to everybody’s ‘thing’,“ he chuckles. “I’ve always gotta’ get my Dippin’ Dots and say hi to the owners of the stand – longtime friends. And this year, I’ll miss my buddy Chief Blakey,” he says. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize his passing (Blakey, recently deceased, was the retired State Fair Police Chief and among the first black chiefsin the state.) People like him paved the way for guys like me.”