A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Thursday, September 30, 2004

48 Hours

The past 48 hours have been busy. The South Central Drug Investigations Unit, working with Rice County law enforcement agencies initiated search and arrest warrants in Faribault and Northfield in connection with an ongoing investigation involving drugs, gang activity and firearms possession. Because of the nature of the ongoing investigation, I cannot be specific in the details of the investigation or where and how it will continue.

My thanks and appreciation goes out to all the criminal justice personnel who assisted in the investigation. I am constantly impressed with the cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement organizations in Minnesota. The benefits of this cooperative spirit combined with the sharing of information makes it much more difficult for organized criminal activities to operate in our state.

Most importantly, I want to thank the courageous individuals who came forward over a year ago to talk to us about their concerns regarding the activities they were witnessing in their neighborhoods. Their willingness to share their concerns and observations was a key component.

I do not use the word "courage" lightly. Their willingness to get involved shows concern about our neighborhoods and communities. These dedicated individuals took a stand for their families and community and made a difference. The closing down of the distribution network will have an impact well beyond Rice County for some time to come.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Cops No More

I found this article in the Miami Herald that reports on what appears to be the end of the funding of the COPS Program. The program actually started with President George H.W. Bush's Administration, it was modified by the Clinton Administration with the goal of putting 100,000 new police officers on the streets. According to the COPS Office, that goal has been accomplished.

There is more to the story than just putting the cops on the streets though. The "carrot" on the string required law enforcement agencies applying for officers, money and equipment to develop and utilize programs to better work with their respective communities. Terms like "community policing" and "problem oriented policing" became common in the vernacular of criminal justice practitioners, politicians and the communities they served.

The result was a remarkable transition in many places of lower crime rates and a more engaged community when dealing with quality of life issues and crime. Opening the lines of communication between the police and the community raised a higher expectation of the police to perform and to perform in an acceptable manner. In other words, a higher level of accountability.

Part of the justification of moving away from the funding of the COPS Office is that the more pressing needs of homeland security are putting a strain on the availability of funding. I would submit that strong partnerships between the community and their law enforcement officers is the best line of defense against acts of domestic terrorism and other types of crime.

The demands of local law enforcement agencies since 9/11 to provide the additional investigative and response mechanisms necessary to deal with the threat of increased acts of violence already have begun to overshadow the gains made over the past fifteen years.

The law enforcement community must work hard to maintain their perspective and realize that we must not sever our ties with our respective communities in the name of security. We must not allow the discontinuation of the COPS program to symbolize a loss of the progress we've made.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Domestic Violence

This article from the Los Angeles Times provides a graphic reminder that domestic violence is a nice way of describing brutality against helpless victims.

Domestic is no less an act of violence than a stranger attacking another.

This article does a good job of describing the fear and emotions involved in witnessing such an assault. Imagine the fear and dread of living that life.

Note: you may have to log in or register to see the article. It is well worth the time.


Sunday, September 26, 2004

Noteworthy Items

A number of news items caught my eye the past couple days of which I thought you might be interested.

CNN published an article on their web sight about a bogus 911 call of a 4 year old in distress.
Apparently someone used a phone card and a cell phone to call in a bogus 911 call that wound up utilizing many law enforcement organizations and personnel.

CNN also posted an article about an Illinois judge who was thrown from his home when it exploded.
According to the report, authorities were still trying to determine the cause of the blast.

The Star Trib posted an article that also appeared in the print version today about Joshua A. Krueth, who is accused of killing two people in his neighborhood "just for kicks." The information in the article paints a picture of a troubled kid with a history of past drug involvement.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Future of Law Enforcement

Over the past several weeks, I've been involved in the process to eventually hire an individual to replace a police officer position that has been vacant for some time. Northfield's process is unique in that it involves members of the community in the interview process as well as using a civil service commission.

It is encouraging to meet individuals interested in pursuing a career in policing. It is also heartening to hear what they feel they can contribute to the well-being of a community. The numbers of students in criminal justice programs and career development programs to get ready for a career in policing, corrections, probation, legal or the courts, is higher now than in recent times. The interest in criminal justice will provide a pool of talented people to meet the needs of the next generation. Jobs in this field do not compete financially with their private sector counterparts. This speaks well of the willingness of so many to devote their careers to public service.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Around The Block 9-20-04

If you would like to access this week's edition of Around The Block, please click here.

If you would like to view recent editions, please page down. If you would like to visit the archive, press here.


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Student Pledge Against Handgun Violence

Here is another web location of interest.

October 20th will mark the Day of National Concern about young people and gun violence. The Pledge encourages young people to take a proactive stance in reducing gun violence. You can go to their web site by clicking here. This is a project that involves kids and schools all over the United States who will pledge to avoid gun violence.

The website reports 1,472,160 pledges for 2003. Devoid of the politics of firearms, this project simply asks kids to avoid violence, especially violence involving guns.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Meth

I happened to catch the end of the 9:00 p.m. news on Fox Channel 9 tonight and watched the piece they did on meth. There was a video of two young men using meth. I watched them transform from individual human beings to paranoid animal-like individuals playing Russian Roulette with a semi-automatic pistol. Not an easy thing to do, by the way.

The video came courtesy of a local county attorney. Unfortunately, I didn't catch which county. It was a gutsy move to release the tape and I respect him for doing it.

The newscast also showed an interview of one of the individuals in the video using meth who is now locked up in one of our state prisons. He has difficultly speaking, thinking and basically functioning. It was a graphic depiction of an all too familiar scene for most police officers. Meth is a very serious problem in our state and our communities. It impacts us financially through the cost of health care, criminal justice system, prevention and loss of income by those who addict themselves to this poison.

We are not immune to the effects of meth in Northfield and the surrounding area. One of the most obvious impacts is felt in the number of thefts from vehicles and shoplifting incidents that involve the attempt to find cash or anything easily converted to cash or anything they can trade for meth or another drug.

The news feature came on the heels of another reported murder that law enforcement officials in the north Metro area are blaming on a meth induced rage.

The prosecutors, police, judges and probation components of the criminal justice system will continue to deal with this problem as best we can. In addition, we need to continue a serious dialogue into the causation factors that lead individuals into the dark despair caused by the addiction of a drug.

The Minnesota Department of Health, specifically Deborah Durkin, (651-215-0778), has been a leader in getting information and training out on the destructiveness of meth.

I pledge to you that we will continue to do everything we can to address this problem. Part of the effort involves educating the community, gaining support for prevention programs for youth, and encouraging a very frank discussion of the scope of the problem in our community. If you are interested in learning more about this issue or would like someone to present a program to a group in Northfield, please feel free to call or email Sergeant Roger Schroeder at 507-663-9322.

Back to School

For the first time in many years, I found myself rushing to find classes, looking at a class schedule and hoping I would make it before the bell rang. Nope, it wasn't a dream either.

My wife and I participated in the open house tonight at Northfield High School. This is new territory for us as our son, Chris, is a freshman this year. We were able to visit his classes via a very shortened schedule to learn a little bit about what his first year of high school will be like.

I appreicate the effort that Dr. Santerre and his staff put forth this evening. It's good to remember what it's like, even just for a little while, in a high school setting.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Forum

Yesterday, (Saturday) morning, I was invited by the Northfield League of Women Voters to participate in a discussion of the impact, if any, of the USA PATRIOT Act. The acronym stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism."

The good turnout on a pleasant September Saturday morning was indicative of the interest in the topic. The perspectives of an academic, librarian, financial institution officer and a law enforcement officer provided a broad view of how the Act has been received and perceived. It was an interesting discussion and I enjoyed participating in the event.

One reason I believe that we, as a country will succeed, was reinforced before, during and after the meeting: people are involved and informed. I was engaged in a number of conversations before and after the presentation that showed concern for our communities and our collective safety. It is clear this concern crosses all ideological boundaries and political affiliations.

That's why I'm confident that despite the challenges ahead, we will prevail as a nation.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Carleton & St. Olaf Students Arrive

There are many things about Northfield in which I appreciate. St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges are two organizations of which I'm thankful for the fact they are located in Northfield. Prior to my arrival here, I had the opportunity to serve as an adjunct and contract instructor for the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Central Community College respectively, teaching a variety of criminal justice courses and even some driver safety classes for the Nebraska Safety Center. I miss the opportunity to be in the classroom so it's always a pleasure when I have the opportunity to visit one of the local college campuses.

When I got the chance to attend Carleton's convocation last Monday, I jumped at the chance. Shortly after my arrival at Skinner Memorial Chapel, Rice County Sheriff Dick Cook arrived and sat down next to me. We both commented on how it was significant to have Chief Harrington in Northfield delivering the convocation address at one of the colleges.

I especially enjoy Carleton's convocation ceremony because it is steeped in tradition and enthusiasm. The convocation reached a crescendo--Chief Harrington was introduced by Carleton College President Robert A. Oden Jr. Chief Harrington's address was entitled "Acting with Audacity." It was filled with rich examples to encourage those of us in attendance to step out, be willing to take risks and dare to be different. It was an excellent presentation.

Carleton officials were kind enough to invite me to a reception after the convocation. It was enjoyable catching up on what has been happening with associates and acquaintances who have been elsewhere during the summer. We were able to plan a few meetings and I was able to enlist some assistance for future training of our staff at the Police Department.

In a time of dwindling resources, budget constraints, staff reductions and skepticism, it was reassuring to hear the words of progressivism from Chief Harrington. It was also heartening to visit with friends and associates to reinforce the power and strength of community.

Earlier in the month, I spent some time on the St. Olaf Campus visiting with RA's about a variety of issues they might face in the upcoming months. I've had a chance to walk that campus and observe the activity of students arriving and settling in.

A couple weeks ago, I was in the Northfield Target store and was amazed at the number of college students and parents who were at the store purchasing a variety of things for new dorm rooms and such. Overall, it's an exciting time in Northfield.

Welcome Back Students!


Friday, September 17, 2004

Think We Have It Bad?

We had a lot of rain the last couple days but it pales in comparison to communities in the Gulf and East Coast. My brother-in-law sent me a collection of pictures from Richmond, Virginia. The pictures show the awesome power of fast moving water. Richmond received 11 inches of rain in 5 hours on August 30th. I've posted a good number of the pictures below.



















Flash flood waters are dangerous. Please heed the warnings when issued.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children



The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a very unique organization. Formed by Congress as a privately run organization, funded by a combination of federal and private sources to address the problems of missing and abducted children as well as children who are victimized. You can go to their website by clicking here.

NCMEC also hosts a variety of training opportunities for educators and law enforcement officials. I've been fortunate to attend a number of their training sessions and have always come away impressed with their resources and willingness to assist those who need it.

They are truly committed to the safety and wellbeing of children. I would encourage you to take a tour of their web site.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Meeting Northfield League of Women Voters to Host Panel on Saturday

Here is an item of note that I thought you might be interested in.

Northfield League of Women Voters to host panel on Saturday:

How IS the Patriot Act Affecting (or not affecting) Northfield?

The US Patriot Act was passed by Congress shortly after 9/11. It is a frequent topic in the media and in conversation. But what exactly is the Patriot Act? What have the affects, if any, been on local communities such as Northfield?

On September 18th, the Northfield League of Women Voters, will host a panel discussion on this topic. Charles Umbanhowar, Sr., retired St. Olaf faculty member, will begin with a brief overview of the Patriot Act. This will be followed by a panel of representatives from the Northfield Police Department, local banks, and local libraries giving their perspective on how this act has affected them in their work. There will then be time to ask questions after the panel speaks. The event will start with a potluck breakfast/brunch at 9, followed by the panel presentation at 9:30. Bring a dish to share, or since it's Saturday, sleep late and just come over for coffee and breakfast. Chat with neighbors and friends before hearing this timely discussion on the Patriot Act. This event will be held at the First United Church of Christ, 300 Union Street, Northfield, starting at 9 AM.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

September 11th Remembered



Today is September 11, 2004. Three years and a few hours away, a group of absolute cowards chose to murder thousands of people thinking they would scare us and divide us.


It didn't work.

Those who would intimidate and divide us don't get it. We, as a nation, come together from very diverse backgrounds. Although we may disagree, often vehemently, we still come together for each other... and for those not able to protect or defend themselves.

They thought that attacking symbols of our accomplishments would force us to withdraw within.

They thought somehow that we would splinter and scatter like the wind, abandoning the thousands of people killed and injured.

Instead, they discovered untold acts of heroism and self-sacrifice in a Pennsylvania field.

They found out that "Protect & Serve" wasn't just lip service.

There were new heroes in a new kind of war
We remembered our friends, family and coworkers who were lost

We prayed

We remembered

We would endure more hardship & sacrifice

We've moved on but haven't forgotten.
__________________________________________________________________

Prologue

The FBI Academy grounds in Quantico, Virginia hosts a September 11th Memorial.

At the base of the memorial, there is a piece of the Word Trade Towers, a piece of the Pentagon and a piece from the wreckage of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.


During my time at the Academy, I passed the Memorial several times a day going to classes. Many of us regularly stopped at the Memorial to remember those who were lost. I would ask that on this September 11th, you remember the loss of so many and the sacrifices by those who have died so others could live.

Shalom











Friday, September 10, 2004

Defeat of Jesse James Days Begins

The weekend after Labor Day means the start of the Defeat of Jesse James Days. The leadup to the weekend activities actually starts on the Wednesday before with memorials and a banquet on Wednesday evening. The Police Department's involvement is year round. Captain Tim Halverson is the department's liaison with the DJJD Committee. Our activities get into high gear about the week before. I took a minute on Thursday at about 3:30 p.m. to walk around Bridge Square and took a few photos that I'll share with you.



I took this picture standing on the corner of 5th and Water. You can see the beginnings of the entertainment center beyond the ambulance.

Community Service Officer Kris Wilson is seen helping a couple early arrivals with some information. The Northfield Police Department staffs a building on Bridge Square. Officer Wilson is a key person in getting things organized and ready. His help is greatly appreciated.

Next to the Police building is the medical aid station provided by Northfield Hospital Emergency Services. Andy Yurek is the EMT/Paramedic supervisor. Members of his department staff the station throughout the weekend. They are a big help in taking care of injuries, illnesses, and weather-related conditions. Having the locations side-by-side also helps to symbolize the great working relationship we have with the local emergency services staff.


Here's a photo of what Bridge Square looked like at 3:30 on Thursday afternoon. I was able to obtain my inaugural corn dog and diet drink at this time as well. In a few hours, this area will be jammed with people and will remain that way until Sunday evening. I'll try to provide some additional information and pictures throughout the weekend.

Thanks to all the volunteers who make this event so successful.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Phishing Scam

Here's another one, this time the thieves are picking on Citi Bank. Again, they weren't too swift as they sent it to me at the police department. I checked the link and it looks like it is already disabled.

I'll remind you again that financial institutions do not contact you in this manner. To learn more about this type of scam, you can click here.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

September 7th Around The Block Newsletter

Here's the September 7th edition of Around the Block newsletter (PDF)
See the archive of previous issues.


Lemonade---

Some things never change.


Last week, I watched a couple of my younger neighborhood kids set up a "lemonade" stand. It was a week ago Tuesday. I guess it was one last chance to hang on to summer before school started the next day.

These guys didn't give up. They were out there the better part of the afternoon. The street is semi-busy for a residential street and you could hear their regular calls as motorists sped by. A few stopped. I was highly amused when they cornered the Waste Management guys picking up their garbage. The haulers were good sports and actually bought a couple drinks from the kids.

A little later, the doorbell rang. When I answered it, there stood two of the enterprising young men. They informed me that they had "only two drinks left" and wanted to give me a chance to take advantage of their "closeout." I watched as they went door-to-door to our various neighbors in the cul-de-sac. I was impressed how long they made those last "couple drinks" last.
Watching the kids sent me back many years and yes, I'm not so old that I don't remember setting up a few cold drink stands in my time. In a world that was turned upside down this past weekend with the deaths of so many children in Russia, there was something comforting watching these kids take pride in realizing the benefits of their work.

The tenacity of these young entrepreneurs reminded me that it is important to try new things and not to give up. When my son, Chris was about seven years old, he was instructed to write a descriptive paragraph about one of his parents for school. He chose me. He described his dad as someone who did dishes, could cook, and never gave up. The latter description has pushed me to move forward more than one time since then.

It reminds me that we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone. To quote President Theodore Roosevelt, "It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out where the strong man stumbled , or where a doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, and comes up short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. The man who at best knows the triumph of high achievement and who at worst, if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who never knew victory or defeat."

Fortunately, there are more of us willing to step into the arena than those who chose to sit and watch the world go by.


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Another Internet Fraud

I received this email message today. To see the full message, click on the picture.



We receive a number of inquires of this type on a regular basis. I returned an email informing them they were unwise to send this type of material. By then the site was already down. You may forward this information to us by sending a copy to Sergeant Roger Schroeder. I would also suggest you click on your browser's spam blocker and add it to your list.

This is a slight variation on the same theme. There is always someone who needs to deposit millions of dollars in a U.S. bank because of immigration or some other type of problem. All they want you to do is send them your account number and they will deposit this money in your account! What they don't tell you is all they will do is drain your account dry. As ridiculous as it sounds, there are people who really send them their bank information.

Just a note, I erased the addresses on the above item as I didn't want anyone to click on them by accident. It's best to avoid returning any message to people like this. Most of the time the site will be down already and it's better to not risk the chance of a virus.

In closing, remember my guiding rule..

If it sounds too good to be true...it probably is.


Monday, September 06, 2004

Labor Day

Labor Day isn't a day off for everyone. Many public safety, rescue and health professionals stay on the job to keep us safe and healthy. Public sector workers maintain water and treatment plants and infrastructure operations to make sure there aren't any disruptions in transportation and essential services. Private sector folks make sure that we continue to have utilities and phone service, and in many cases, the cable or satellite service that carries the work of many communications folks to produce live programs for our viewing pleasure.

News professionals work to keep us informed and many in the retail and service industry work to make sure we can purchase groceries, supplies and gas. We can still travel and stay in motels and hotels because others are on the job. Thanks to technology, I can still go to an ATM and get cash, but someone is still sitting in an office someplace making sure the computers are working properly.

If you get a chance today, take time to thank those people who stay on the job, even during a holiday.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

Please Drive Safely


Minnesota law enforcement officers are joining with their peers around the country to participate in heightened enforcement to keep the roads safe during this Labor Day weekend. Northfield will have additional officers out as will Dakota and Rice Counties to encourage appropriate driving behavior and to catch impaired drivers before they hurt someone.

With reduced gas prices and decent weather, traffic is expected to be heavy. Please take extra time and use patience while driving to and from your destinations. Keep a cell phone with you and plan your routes.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) has a web site you can access for information as well as a phone number to call to monitor roadways and traffic.



Saturday, September 04, 2004

Not Children

"Even alongside the most cruel attacks of the past, this terrorist act occupies a special place because it was aimed at children..."

This quote by Russian President Vladimir Putin was posted on the CNN.com web site today. The morning edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in a web story that 322 bodies have been pulled from the rubble of what used to be a school. Most of them were children.

In a companion story in the print edition of the Star Tribune, Associated Press writer William J. Kole states that the Russian tragedy has shown that terrorists no longer hold any respect for what he terms "taboo targets." The author describes militant actions, using words like "bloodbath", "slaughterhouse" and "chillingly brazen."

All the reporting and rhetoric used by commentators and politicians that has transpired and will transpire can simply be reduced to two words...

Children died.

I wept for them this morning.

It is a senseless situation. I liken the terrorists here to the schoolyard bully who wasn't successful in getting his way by making threats so he finds the weakest, most vulnerable child on the playground and strikes them down. That will show them....

I try to be a reasonable person who attempts to see all sides of a viewpoint. But reason fails me here. I'm sure there will be plenty of self-serving analysis about who is to blame that drives extremists to such acts....

But children died.

I'm sure there will be those who blame U.S. policies and those of others....

But children died.

Casualties of war.."innocents"...

But children died.

I find it impossible to fathom that these extremists would sacrifice the lives of so many to mask their escape. I find no honor or sacrifice in their actions. The deaths here were not a collateral action as the result of nearby bombing or war. This was a deliberate attack on a school full of children. It was planned and well thought out. The terrorists who are responsible for this are cowards.

And children died.


Friday, September 03, 2004

Law Enforcement Memorial




The Law Enforcement Memorial is located within Judicial Square in Washington D.C. The memorial is encircled by two walls that bear the names of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. I was sorting through some of the pictures I took while attending the National Academy last spring and thought now would be a good time to share this experience with you.

Pictures of both memorial walls

The center of the memorial is designed as the picture above shows. These photos were taken during a memorial service held after my arrival the first week of April 2004 at the FBI National Academy.

Memorial services involve the playing of bag pipes, a tradition that goes back to the beginnings of policing with a strong European influence, specifically from Great Britain.

Several blocks away from the memorial, there is a center that houses pictures and histories of those officers killed in the line of duty. It is a temporary location housed in the AARP Office Building. A permanent structure will soon be built to provide expanded space for more displays and information.

The experience of visitng the memorial and visitor's center is moving, no matter how many times I return to visit. During National Law Enforcement Memorial Week each May, tens of thousands of law enforcement officials from around the United States as well as international colleagues come to Washington to participate in memorial services. If you get the opportunity to visit Washington in the future, I would recommend a visit to the memorial. There is a Metro stop on the memorial grounds and the site is accessible by bus or vehicle.


Thursday, September 02, 2004

Past Two Days

Moving into the third day of school, I thought it was a good time to thank everyone for their patience and cooperation during the first few opening days of school. For the most part the first two days were uneventful with respect to traffic issues. I appreciate everyone taking the extra time to show concern for our kids by being safe drivers and setting a good example.

Thanks