Blog | March 11, 2024

Building Community Trust is Chief Nicole Ford’s Top Priority

Building trust with her community is Chief Ford’s top priority, and she embraces law enforcement’s shift towards open communication with its communities.

“Fortunately, when you become Chief, you get to participate in a lot of cool things,” said Chief Nicole Ford of Midland (MI) Police Department. And for her, many of those things involve working with young people in her community.

Chief Ford herself is the product of police-led programs for kids. At 14, she joined her local Explorer Post, a program for young people interested in law enforcement, which allows them to serve alongside their local law enforcement agency personnel. Upon joining, she knew undoubtedly that law enforcement was the career path for her. After participating in the Explorer Post for five years, Chief Ford went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern Michigan University (EMU), and graduated from EMU’s School of Police Staff and Command. She became Chief of Midland Police Department in 2020, and is the department’s first woman Chief.

Chief Nicole Ford of Midland (MI) Police Department

Her twenty-seven years in law enforcement have been both challenging and rewarding. “I like the fact that it’s different every day,” Chief Ford said, “and the mental gymnastics that come with it. And I truly like that I get to help people on their worst days.” Building trust with her community is Chief Ford’s top priority, and she embraces law enforcement’s shift towards open communication with its communities. “In the past, by keeping quiet, we thought we were keeping people safer,” Chief Ford explained. “But now, our profession is doing a better job of promoting what we do.”

Chief Ford works hard to ensure that her department is involved in a variety of community programs, including Christmas giveaways, National Night Out, Touch-A-Truck, and the local Great Lakes Bay Polar Plunge. A huge success for Chief Ford was her involvement with Saginaw’s Bridge the Gap program, where she helped arrange and chaperone a trip for officers and high school students to go to Washington, D.C. “These young people, particularly those from different socio-economic backgrounds, don’t often get to get out and travel,” Chief Ford said. “It was great to show them there’s a big world out there.” Chief Ford also serves on the board for Midland’s Kids First, which connects young people in tough situations with the resources they need to overcome and lead successful lives.

But being Chief doesn’t come without its difficulties. Chief Ford faces a unique set of challenges as a woman in law enforcement, a field wherein women make up 12 percent of officers and only 3 percent of leadership. “There are people who believe I don’t belong in the field, let alone as a leader in it,” she said. “But we are working hard to change peoples’ biases.”

Funding can also be a challenge. “You want to offer great programs, but can’t if you don’t have the monetary means to do that,” Chief Ford explained. She expressed gratitude for the support she receives from Midland’s City Council, as well as her close partnerships with Midland’s citizens and public school system. But she also knows that greater state and federal investments in young people could go a long way towards closing the gaps that local funding alone can’t.

Still, Chief Ford prioritizes creating connections between her department and the Midland community—connections based in trust, respect, and understanding. “Relationship building, humanizing what we do, and building a foundation” is what Chief Ford’s work is all about.

At Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, we want to thank all the wonderful women working as law enforcement professionals. We recognize the dedication and passion you bring to your work, even in the face of unique, and sometimes momentous, challenges. Chief Ford and so many other women bring a distinct expertise to the profession, and your contributions are invaluable!

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