A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Officers Down

Deputy Timothy Dunn from the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, Shelby County, Tennessee was killed in the line of duty on Friday, October 29th when the vehicle he was driving collided with a pickup driven by a 17 year-old girl. Deputy Dunn was traveling to a high school to talk about the dangers of gangs.

To view the memorial page for Deputy Dunn, click here.

Lieutenant Robert Haley of the Comanche County, Texas Sheriff's Department was killed when his vehicle was involved in a vehicle accident on October 28th. To view Lieutenant Robert Haley's memorial page, click here.

I am saddened with the loss of these officers and our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and coworkers.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Risky Business

The last couple weeks has been challenging for our officers at the Northfield Police Department.

Officer Craig Sammon and Sergeant Mark Murphy were injured after they stopped a carload of juveniles who had been drinking. It seems one of the passengers thought it would be cute to jump out of the car and take off. He found out our officers were serious and instead of getting cited for minor consumption, he got that as well as number of more serious charges.

A couple days later, Officer Mark Dukatz had stopped a driver who was driving aggressively. The driver was abusive and difficult to deal with. As Officer Dukatz was concluding the contact, the driver suddenly pulled away and inured Officer Dukatz. Officer Dukatz was able to inform Officer Jim Frie of the matter and they got the driver stopped again. One more time, instead of a traffic violation, the driver now has felony charges pending and wound up in jail.

Earlier this week, Sergeant Roger Schroeder responded to a call of a man with a gun. Upon arrival, Schroeder found the person with a loaded shotgun aimed at himself. Officer Mark Dukatz arrived to assist, and together, they were able to talk the person down and get him the assistance he needed. Schroeder's and Dukatz' calm response and expertise averted a very dangerous situation for the victim, the officers and the busy traffic in the area.

I appreciate the dedication of these officers and their willingness to take the risks necessary to keep people safe. The aforementioned examples are a reminder that policing is a dangerous job.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Smoke Detectors

Here's one of the final installments of crime prevention month features.

You will need to set your clocks back this weekend. Follow a pattern that has been in place for many years now....take time Saturday to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. It's a good idea to change the batteries in the spring and fall during the time change. By getting in the habit, you help provide another layer of protection for you and your family from the risk of fire.

Make a note on your calendar right now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Security Concerns

I started this entry on Monday as promised; however, the flu bug won out so here it is today.

As I mentioned Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend a symposium last week along with a large number of other public safety officials and law enforcement executives to listen to a number of individuals who are well versed on middle eastern terrorism as well as local security issues.

The symposium received some media exposure through the metro media last week. You may have seen it on the local news last Friday. In this forum; however, I'll speak generically with respect to those who presented for their own safety and the safety of their associates.

One example that really struck me was when one of the presenters who lives in a very volatile part of the Middle East talked about how he and his wife decided to allow their teenage children to have a normal life and socialize despite the risks of suicide bombers and other safety issues. The speaker paused and stated the one restriction they have placed on their kids is that they cannot ride the same bus or same public transportations system in case it is bombed so they don't lose both kids....The threat wasn't from international terrorists, rather from those living within miles of their family.

The topics of discussion centered on acts of violence and how those who presented at the symposium have learned from their experiences. We also discussed how to prepare and prevent acts of terrorism. A lot of the information centered on intelligence gathering, communication, and investigation.

Side note....

We are fortunate in Minnesota that all levels of law enforcement and public safety cooperate and communicate well. There is an established network of communications that is secure that allows us to share information and to keep apprised of local, state, national and international concerns.

Most of the information contained in the briefings is general in nature and is usually advisory in nature. There have been situations that are more specific that require specific steps to be taken. I can assure you that we plan for local concerns and stay on top of what is going on around us.

Back to the symposium...

The single-most important bit of information I took away from the training was something I already knew. Every speaker reiterated it again and again. This important bit of information may surprise you. It's even something that I can share with you here and even be specific.

The point brought forward was that deep level security investigations, international monitoring organizations, and professional anti-terrorism organizations are not the key to preventing local acts of terrorism. The key to stopping local acts of violence has and will always rest with each of you to have the ability to trust your instincts, pay attention and not be afraid to work with local law enforcement agencies to investigate suspicious activities.

Whether its car prowls, graffiti or persons scoping out a power plant or public facility, each member of the community plays an important role in keeping our communities safe. Activities like Neighborhood and Business Watch and the members who participate play an important role in our safety and security.

Community (Citizen) Emergency Response Teams (CERT)

We are also in the formulation stages of organizing an Community Emergency Response Team Program for Northfield. Sergeant Bill Olsen and our Emergency Management Director Tim Isom will be working on the initial phases of this program. Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT for short), are comprised of people who live in neighborhoods who work together in the event of a emergency or disaster, like a tornado, flood or such to account for each other and to provide information to our local Emergency Operations Center. There are several communities in Minnesota who currently have CERT Programs. The programs have been around for a number of years and have proven quite effective.

Keep checking this web log for more information about CERT as we continue to gather information and begin the organizational phase of the process.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Neighborhood Watch for Pilots

As part of my ongoing campaign to feature crime prevention innovations and programs during the month of October (National Crime Prevention Month), I'm featuring a couple of interesting sites today.

The National Neighborhood Watch web page features an article about crime prevention. To view this posting, click here. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has partnered with the crime prevention folks to develop what is being referred to as "Neighborhood Watch" for pilots. If you are interested in viewing the concept, click here to go to their web site. Although we don't have an airport directly in Northfield, we have them nearby and many of the principles outlined at these sites are useful in other venues. If you know someone who is a pilot, you may want to send them this web log entry.

Also, check out the National Sheriff's Association web site for Neighborhood Watch and view the recent innovative program awards by clicking here.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Weekend Activities

I took a day off from creating an entry on Saturday, not because I ran out of things to write about, but I promised my kids some attention. Saturday was my daughter, Sarah's 13th birthday, a milestone in its own right. Since I was also absent a number of days last week attending a seminar that was quite timely, I tried to avoid any work-related stuff. I'll write more about that experience tomorrow.

This gets to be a busy time of year for us at home. We have three birthdays, Thanksgiving, an anniversay and the holiday season in December all between now and the 1st of January. In December my son, Chris, will turn 15. He is already talking about driving and what opportunities that will present, hmmmmm.

Sarah invited two of her friends over last night, hence my absence from this site on Saturday. We spent the better part of Friday evening and Saturday morning getting ready for a sleep-over. Then we spent Saturday evening entertaining and Sunday recovering. Chris and I did make it to see the movie "Taxi" in Lakeville early this afternoon as a bit of a reward for his patience with his sister and her friends. It was a good teaching moment regarding how not to drive...Those of you who have seen the movie understand...those of you who haven't can probably guess.

October also reminds us of a visit last year by our good friends from Germany. For security reasons, I'll not mention names since they are involved in law enforcement and the unfortunate reality is that what I write here can be read by everyone, everywhere and unfortunately, some folks aren't quite as kind as others. Anyway, you know who you are and I'll just say "Fief op Platt" and leave it at that.

We spent the better part of this afternoon, after the movie, the same way most of our neighbors did...outside. We did the ritualistic final lawn mowing, storing the mowers and starting up the snowblower. It was great to have sunshine and the windows to the house open today. I figure that every like today today is a gift since winter has reminded us it's coming.

If you haven't done so, take time to watch the sunset, it's the time of year for red dog sunsets already and harvest moons. There are still enough color in the trees left after the windstorm yesterday to still paint the skies and provide a little encouragement to last through winter.

Here's looking forward to a clear and warm upcoming week!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween will soon be upon us. Here's a few safety tips if your kids will be going out.

  • Dress warm
  • Wear reflective clothing
  • Use face paint instead of a mask for better vision
  • Don't walk in the street
  • Wear fire-resistant clothing
  • Carry a flashlight
  • Always go with a trusted adult
  • Only go to places where you know the people
  • Wear reflective clothing
  • Try to be done before dark.
  • Let a responsible adult check all candy before you eat anything
  • Do not go into homes
  • Do not go out by yourself
  • Respect others' property
  • Stop by the Northfield Safety Center to pick up your free Halloween trick or treat bag

Better yet, organize a block party for Halloween. Try to participate in established parties or community activities. For younger kids, sometimes inviting a few friends over for an inside Halloween party can be more fun and much warmer too!

Steps to Help Prevent Property Damage

  • Take all lawn furniture and ornaments inside
  • If you don't want pumpkins smashed, take them inside after dark
  • Leave outside lights on all night
  • Consider neighborhood patrols
  • Remove all lawn signs for the evening
  • Take in all garden hoses and tools
  • Park cars in a garage or in a drive instead of on the street and lock them
  • Communicate and reinforce appropriate behavior to your kids before they go out.

Finally, motorists need to be very careful when driving because of the increase in pedestrian traffic, especially after dark.

If you are interested in more Halloween safety information tips. Go to the National Crime Prevention Center web site Halloween section by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Police Job Security

I file away bits and pieces of information I happen across for future use in a presentation or for reference. While going through some items the other day, I came across this bit of information. It comes from the Mammoth Book of Oddities.

A Dumb Crook

J. Douglas Cresswell tried to rob a motel while disguised by a black garbage sack over his head. The trouble was that he had forgotten to cut eyeholes in the sack; his frantic efforts to punch holes in the sack with his fingers as he stumbled towards the door delayed his getaway and he was arrested by the police.

He was jailed for twenty-five years.....

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Letter From McGruff The Crime Dog

Help Take Bite Out of Crime

McGruff the Crime Dog has posted a new letter on the NCPC web page. Click here to read it or copy it for your kids.. The Northfield Police Department can make arrangements for McGruff to visit your block parties or kid events. A reservation is required. You can contact Officer Jody Spinner to arrange an appearance by McGruff at your activity.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Crime Prevention Information

The National Crime Prevention Council, has a link that will take you to the toolkit for things you can do to recognize October as National Crime Prevention Month. To go to that link, press here.

There is a new commercial out by the National Crime Prevention Council about bullying. To go to that link that lists the different PSA's, press here. To watch the McGruff video about bullying click on the picture of McGruff above.

While you are at the NCPC web page, I would suggest that you browse around. There are many good instructional materials for children, crime prevention tips for families and businesses as well as a good number of links to other informative sites.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

National Institute of Ethics

Here's another feature of a worthy organization:

The National Institute of Ethics is an organization dedicated to the promoting ethical behavior in many venues. This organization also supports the training and establishment of ethical conduct in policing.
To go the the National Institute of Ethics' Web page click on the logo above or you can click here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Workplace Safety

This is the first of a series of postings about crime prevention, in recognition of October being National Crime Prevention Month.

The National Crime Prevention Council web site provides numerous resources, information and references on how to stay safe and home and in the workplace. I've attached a checklist from NCPC to help you stay safe at work. Click here to look at the checklist.

If you have a crime prevention question, please leave it for me by clicking on the contact tab on the left side of the screen. I'll post and respond to as many of the relevant questions that I can.

We are also gearing up to host another citizen police academy for Northfield area residents after the first of the year. If you have topics you would like covered or are interested in attending, please let me know by clicking on the contact tab on the left side of the screen.

Another note, look for the next edition of City Commons that will be out soon through city utility bills and at the city library. It will feature a number of public safety items.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Hotdogs, Great Pitching and Kids' Dreams

My family made a trip to Minneapolis on Friday afternoon to watch the Twins play the Yankees. We left early and made the Dome in plenty of time to pick up the tickets so we spent a bit of time wandering around.

The "Governor's Band," the Minnesota Guard, performed prior to the game and displayed a large flag on the field during the National Anthem. It was an excellent start to what we figured was going to be a great game. Despite the outcome, I wasn't disappointed: and no, I'm not a Yankee fan either.

Once we settled in with Dome dogs and soft drinks, I started looking around. There were a lot of younger kids sporting all kinds of Twins stuff. They owned the same look of optimism I saw on a lot of adults' faces.

The game started off with a bang with the Twins getting a home run early in the game. Things didn't go so well for the Twins after that. By the 6th Inning, people started moving out. The look of optimism was gone from a lot of the adults but not in the faces of those younger kids. They were there until the very end. I was sitting between my 12-year old-daughter and 14-year-old son. Besides losing my voice yelling during the game, I got a pretty good case of whiplash going back and forth between dual conversations with them. Even at their ages, they were optimistic that the Twins would stage a come-from-behind victory.

A reporter in the Saturday edition of the Star Tribune had observed that most of the 54,803 in attendance Friday night had left by the 6th or 7th Innings. I have to say that I saw a lot of faces still in the Dome and they weren't all Yankee fans, but I suppose there are ways of measuring how many people leave. In fact, those who left early probably missed some of the best baseball of the entire game. Somewhere around the 8th or 9th Innings, the Twins capitalized on some Yankee miss-steps and wound up with the bases loaded, ultimately scoring 3 runs getting the score to 4 to 8. There was still time. The crowd erupted at a volume level higher than any I had heard that night. I guess if the reporter was right that most people had left, those of us who stayed must have been pretty loud because the cheering resulted in an almost painfull noise level by those fans who stayed.

I found myself wondering, was it possible? Could the Twins stage the upset of the decade, if not the new century? Could the Twins send the Yankees packing back to New York worried that the Twins would foil their plans for another championship?

Well, by now you know it didn't happen. What was amazing to me was the energy the Twins came back on Saturday afternoon with to shake up the Yankees again. I guess somebody forgot to tell the Twins they were "outgunned and outmatched," to borrow a TV commentator's phrase.

What didn't change was the excitement in the faces of those kids.

Earlier I told you, I wasn't disappointed and here's why. Against the odds, and most conventional wisdom, a group of individuals pulled together and challenged a better financed and deeper field of talent and held their own...every time. Consider the fact that no other ball club in the division can even have this discussion.

On the way home, we spent a lot of time talking about the dedication it takes to hang in there and to fight and hope against all odds that you can succeed. That you can have the courage to try, get knocked down, pick yourself back up and keep on trying. It was a great teaching moment. It was a great family moment.

Hotdogs, great pitching, and Kids' Dreams, it was a great afternoon!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Police Futurists

An interesting site is the Police Futurists Site. I've recently joined the organization but have used it's information and publications for reference and resource for some time. The organization truly has an international perspective and I've found the information provided valuable in forcasting and planning for the future.

If you get a minute, check it out.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Busy Weekend

There were no entries over the weekend after we left for Nebraska to attend a college reunion for my wife at Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska. Upon my arrival I was surprised to find no wireless access at the motel. We got to visit a few friends and former colleagues. It was good to get back to the warmer Minnesota weather...really, no kidding it was colder there than it was in Northfield.

One of the things I noticed during the 9-plus hour drive to and from Nebraska, was the number of people who aren't wearing their restraint belts while driving and riding in their vehicles. I thought it might be a good time to remind you and to please ask that you think of your family and friends as you travel in your car. Each vehicle carries precious cargo. Everyone is someone's brother, sister, son, daughter, mom, dad, significant other or friend. Please honor your friends and family by staying safe and using your vehicle occupant restraint system.