A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Friday, December 31, 2004

Officer Down

Patrol Officer Peter Lavery of the Newington, Connecticut Police Department was killed today (December 31st) when he was taken hostage after responding to a domestic disturbance call. He was a member of the National Guard and is survived by his wife and two children. To view Officer Lavery's memorial page, click here.

Officer Down

Police Officer Cristy Tindall of the Peoria, Illinois Police Department on December 30th as the result of a vehicle accident while responding to a call to assist another police officer. To view Officer Tindall's memorial page, click here.

Officer Down

Patrol Officer Chris Ruse of the Pendergrass, Georgia Police Department was shot and killed following a vehicle pursuit on December 29th. Officer Ruse, 47, is survived by his wife and three young children. To view Officer Ruse's memorial page, click here.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Start Off The New Year Right!

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. If you will be out celebrating, please do so safely and responsibly, respecting others' property and privacy.

If you will be driving, be aware of the heightened possibility of impaired drivers. Our officers will be out to help ensure your outing can be as safe as possible. If you drinking alcoholic beverages, please do not drive. Do not allow others to drive if they have been consuming alcoholic beverages.

Have a safe and happy New Year's eve.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Prepare for Weather

The past couple days on my way to the office, I've noticed a number of cars going down the street without the windows cleared of frost/ice. When stopped, the main reason for not clearing off the vehicle glass was the absence of a ice scraper. I can imagine that if the vehicle lacks an ice scraper in Minnesota during the winter, there probably isn't a winter survival kit either.

Those of you who live in a more temperate climate may not need to worry about winter woes, but all driving conditions require some preparation when on the road.

Cell phones are a great aid and offer security while driving in case of an emergency, but they don't replace the need to properly maintain your vehicle (good tires, air pressure, coolant, first aid kit, warning devices and a working jack and spare tire). Do yourself and your passengers a favor, take a minute and do an inventory of your emergency supplies and vehicle condition.

Hopefully it will be the best time investment you will never have to use!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Officer Down

Border Patrol Agent George Debates of the United States Department of Homeland Security - Customs and Border Protection was killed in a single vehicle accident on Federal Route 21 while patrolling a border area on the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona on December 19th. Agent Debates is survived by his mother. To view Agent Debates' memorial page, click here.

Officer Down

Deputy Robert Hedman of the Otero County Sheriff's Department, Otero County, New Mexico was shot and killed on December 18th after responding to a call of a domestic dispute. Deputy Hedman was 53 years old he is survived by his wife and two children. To view Deputy Hedman's memorial page, click here.

Monday, December 27, 2004

When What Freezes Over????

You never now what will freeze over next. My sister and her husband who live in the southern part of South Texas sent me the photo below. Yep, about five inches of snow. The only other amazing thing is how much my niece and nephew have grown!

I understand this is the first time since they have been keeping records in that part of the country there was this amount of snow.
Looks more like a picture from my back yard in Minnesota but it's not.
Looks like folks around those parts will have something to talk about for a while.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Best Wishes

I'd like to take this time to wish all of you the best during this holiday season. Please keep those who are serving in our military and support services all over the world in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Holiday Travel

I was reminded of something that I've managed to avoid for a number of years. That "something" was traveling by plane during Christmas week. Leaving Orlando, I realized an awful lot of residents there must really care about their families elsewhere because I struck up a number of conversations with family members who left that tropic climate to travel to Minnesota and Wisconsin for the holidays.

I met one young fella who was about 4 years old who was really looking forward to his first experience with snow. I told him I thought he would enjoy it and then quietly told his folks we were still waiting for our first substantial snowfall but did give them directions to Buck Hill in Burnsville. For those of you not familiar with out area, Buck Hill is a place they can make snow when Mother Nature doesn't meet the deadline. It provides some decent downhill ski and tube experiences.

Despite the crunch, and I do mean crunch, I was impressed with security folks with TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) and the airport police and security people both in Orlando and Minneapolis/St. Paul who, despite some short tempered travelers, were calm and cheerful. I took the time to thank them. If you get a chance, thank them for their work next time you go through. It's a challenging job with a lot of pressure and I appreciate what they do.

At least Minnesota didn't let me down. I left 65 degree weather to arrive home to 9 degrees. I know it sounds crazy but it actually felt good to get back into winter. It was fun to see all the Santa hats and holiday decorations worn by those waiting for family and friends when we got back to Minneapolis/St. Paul. It helps to get one into the spirit of the season.

As we drove back to Northfield, I also thought about our soldiers stationed around the world who will observe the holiday season without benefit of the company of their family and loved ones. There are a number of organizations that allow you to forward needed supplies, gifts and words of encouragement to them. I would recommend that you take a moment to do just that.

I'll try to get the info out to you soon. If anyone has links or legitimate sources please email me the information so I can post it here.

I hope that as you enter this busy week, you can take time to share a smile and a word of encouragement to those out there helping us get through the season safely and sanely.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Lifelong Learning

It's been a busy week. I mentioned earlier this week that I took some vacation time off to attend a training opportunity. I've spent this past week as a guest of the Orange County Sheriff's Office in Orlando, Florida. OCSO is a class act and I was impressed with the willingness of their staff at their training division to allow a few of us outside their organization to attend.

The agency serves over 1 million residents and an additional 43 million visitors. This area suffered some significant damage as a result of the onslaught of hurricanes this year. It is remarkable how quickly the residents here have been able to get things back to normal.

The time invested was time well spent; however, I'll be glad to get back home, cold weather and all. I've got to admit that now matter how many times I travel south during the holiday season, it's still a different feeling to hear music of the holiday season played in 75 degree weather with people shopping for presents in shorts and sandals.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Officer Down

Officer Brad Schultz of the Riverview, Missouri Police Department was killed in a vehicle accident on December 14th. Officer Schultz' had been working for the department for 4 years. He is survived by his fiancee, parents and a brother. To go to Officer Schultz' memorial page, press here.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Officer Down

Inspector David Jennings of the Alabama Liquefied Petroleum Gas Board was killed on February 25th when his car was broadsided on a road by a vehicle that ran a stop sign. To go to Inspector Jennings' memorial page, click here.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Not in "Kansas" Anymore

Last thing I remember I was up on the ladder reattaching outside lights and then the wind gust hit hard. Things got blurry and the next thing I knew I saw this.

My apologies to the Wizard of Oz.. I knew I wasn't in Minnesota anymore.

Ok, so it's probably a pretty corny way to let you know I took a few vacation days off to attend a class in Florida. What was the top news story in Orlando tonight? Well, it was a tie between the fact that it was a chilly 55 degrees tonight and maybe, gasp, it might fall into the 40's. The other story was about a tracker nabbing an alligator who had made a Miami college campus his/her home (they didn't say which so I'll stay neutral on gender), that wound up on a pool deck in a wrestling match with the tracker at the student center. Yep, you heard it, a pool as part of the student center.

Actually, I took the picture above at the Kennedy Space Center. My flight got in early and the motel room wasn't ready until 3pm so I drove the 50 or so miles to visit a place that holds a vivid place my memories.

My first memory of spaceflight was my family sitting around a six inch Philco black and white television in our living room in Edgar, Nebraska watching John Glenn go into space. They let us out of school to go home to watch the historic event because the school didn't have any televisions. I remember when John Glenn "splashed down" my mom cried. She was relieved that he made it back from that unknown place. Time passed and we almost became complacent about space travel and then Apollo 1 burned and killed its crew. Apollo 13 reaffirmed our ability to rise above adversity and prevail and subsequent space shuttle accidents have reminded us that we are vulnerable still.

The contrast of our efforts to conquer space was best described in the picture below of the behemoth rockets dwarfed by the very sky they dare to challenge.

The size of the shuttle is had to comprehend until you stand underneath one. The Center allows you to walk the shuttle with a series of catwalks.

I have to admit I felt a sense of pride in seeing those words on this craft. It is a testament to our ingenuity and determination. I continue to hope that the same determination that help build a ship to the stars can continue to bridge the world community to build understanding and peace.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Blogging in the UK

Griff Wigley sent me an invitation via email earlier this week to meet with other people in Northfield to exchange our experiences with weblogs. Griff is the person who directed my initial interest in having some sort of electronic method of outreach to using a weblog. Griff is also involved with other consultants who are assisting officials in the UK who are exploring weblog possibilities "across the pond."

Check out Griff's site to learn more about this project. Earlier this summer, I was fortunate to meet with a number of Minnesota "bloggers" and officials from the UK during their visit to Minnesota to learn more about weblogs. If you missed that entry, you can click here.

It was really the first time since last July that I had the opportunity to hear from others in person who are also editing weblogs. I was interested to hear from someone who has been working with weblogs for a longer period of time and a shorter period of time than I have been "blogging." Generally, we all felt there was benefit and application in the continued use of weblogs.

I walked away from the meeting with a sense of excitement of being part of this emerging resource.

Friday, December 10, 2004

A Different Perspective

I recently received an email from Christa Miller who told me she was a newcomer to "blogging." She found my weblog while reviewing other criminal justice sites. She asked me to look at her weblog. I was impressed. Ms. Miller provides a different perspective with her freelance writer's background. I would suggest you spend some time and take a look. To view Ms. Miller's weblog, press here. I particularly found her entry about Tasers interesting.

Good luck Christa!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Northfield Human Rights Commission

I am a city staff liaison for the Northfield Human Rights Commission. The Commission is currently comprised of 9 individuals who have expressed an interest in serving on the Commission. The Northfield Mayor selects individuals to bring before the council for consideration for appointment to the Commission.

This evening commission members worked on their plans for the upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Remembrance Day. Commission members work on a number of issues throughout the year. They field concerns and complaints from the community as well as working to provide educational opportunities for the Northfield area on issues of human rights.

We are fortunate to have dedicated, caring individuals who are willing to serve on this very important committee. As Commission activities move forward, I'll try to post additional information and contact information.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

A Legacy

Having Northfield located in two counties has it's advantages. In this case, I'm able to interact with both organizations that represent police administrators in both Rice and Dakota Counties. I am concluding my year as president of the Dakota County Chiefs' Association. The Dakota County group meets on a monthly basis to exchange information and invite different speakers of interest to present various topics related to our discipline.

The December meeting is reserved to invite all the retired chiefs from the Dakota County law enforcement agencies to attend. It's a great opportunity to catch up with what these individuals have been doing since retirement. Some of the individuals have recently retired and others have been retired twenty years or more.

I find it enjoyable to listen to the stories the retired chiefs have to tell. The rapid growth in Dakota County found many of these administrators grow two or three person departments to departments with 60 or more officers.

The way we police has changed dramatically as well. As I've mentioned before, technology has forever changed the way we practice our vocation on a daily basis. Technology makes us more efficient and effective and allows us to meet the growing demand our growing communities require.

The large number of the administrators who have retired over the past two years is also a reminder of the dramatic change policing is experiencing in Minnesota. A substantial number of administrators and senior mangers will be retiring in the next thee to four years. Such a change in administrators and senior officers will alter the face of policing for years to come. As new ideas and new ways of doing things dawns, I think it is fitting to take time to thank those officers to literally pioneered law enforcement out of the dark times of the 1960's and cut the path toward the progressive policing practices of the 21st Century. Minnesota is fortunate to have dedicated and very qualified law enforcement professionals. This fact is the overriding reason why Minnesota consistently ranks among the top states in the U.S. in quality law enforcement services.

Thanks to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to make a difference!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Day of Infamy

WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

On December 7, 1941, The United States lost its innocence. The world came knocking at our door and let us know we weren't immune from terrorists attacks. I heard on the radio today that over 2400 Americans died that day. Go to the Department of Navy Historical Center by clicking here to learn more.

I'm not here to debate the political implications or the right or wrong issues of the war. I just wanted to take time to recognize those who died that day in the service of our country. Men and women of honor upheld the integrity of our country by fighting back. Men and women who were safely tucked away from the battle reported without a call to fight and to treat the injured.

All those who served deserve to be remembered. We owe them much for their service.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Telemarketers May Soon Have Your Cell Phone Number

We belong to a number of investigative discussion groups and organizations. I received the information below. According to Truth or Fiction .com the statement isn't totally accurate. So I'll present the message as I received it and then I'll list what Truth or Fiction says.

Starting Jan 1, 2005, all cell phone numbers may be made public to telemarketing firms. So this means as of Jan 1, your cell phone may start ringing off the hook with telemarketers, but unlike your home phone, most of you pay for your incoming calls. These telemarketers will eat up your free minutes and end up costing you money in the long run.

According to the National Do Not Call List, you have until Dec. 15th, 2004 to get on the national "Do not call list" for cell phones. They said that you need to call 1-888-382-1222 from the cell phone that you wish to have put on the "do not call list" to be put on the list. They also said you can do it online at
http://www.donotcall.gov/> .

Registering only takes a minute, is in effect for 5 years and will possibly save you money (definitely frustration)! Make sure you register now!

Now, here's what Truth and Fiction says about this:

So, the best I can determine is there is no immediate deadline. The website is apparently legit and you can choose to register if you wish. I spoke to a couple cell phone reps who feel any cell company who did this would probably lose a good chunk of their business as would any telemarketing company who tried to use any list that might be available at some point.

I suspect as the cell phone business gets more and more blurred with conventional telephone service it will get more difficult to figure out what is correct and what is not.

Good Luck!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

What's Important To You?

During the Thanksgiving weekend, we visited my parents in Flippin, Arkansas. Those of you who know boats may know Flippin as the place where they manufacture Ranger Boats. Some of you may think that's where I get some of my unusual vocal inflections. Actually, no. My folks retired a few years ago and moved to Arkansas.

While we were visiting there, we had the opportunity to visit a bluegrass jam session in Cotter, Arkansas. Cotter also claims to be the "Trout Capital of the USA." This part of Arkansas (about 70 miles on Highway 65 south of Branson, Missouri), is home to some unique city names: Yellville, Gassville and Bull Shoals. The folks there take some ribbing about the names but you won't find any nicer folks. They welcome you to their communities with open arms.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we traveled to Cotter to attend the jam session. My mother is a retired professional vocalist so she enjoys going to the various musical functions in the area. My son, Chris who turns 15 today, plays guitar and wanted to sit in with the musicians. I've placed several photos below.

In the photo below, (Chris is on the right), was playing his selection of "House of the Rising Sun."

The musicians have various skill levels. Some are professional, others have recently started playing an instrument. One gentleman who recently turned 74 just started playing the guitar. The participants take turns going around the circle introducing themselves and play their favorite selections. They continue until they get tired or run out of time. The event is like a big pot luck function in that everyone brings something to eat or drink. The organization continues through the donations given by those who attend. A number of the participants took time to visit with Chris and to encourage him and give him a few pointers. They were kind enough to provide the positive reinforcement that helps young adolescents build confidence and self-esteem. It didn't hurt Chris' parents' pride level either.

Chris is a good son and we are proud of him. I'll leave it at that because he made me promise to not get too mushy.

As I was drafting this posting last night, a movie entitled "Frequency" came on one of the local cable channels. It's a movie about a cop who is assigned to a major city homicide unit. This cop lost his firefighter father when he was six years old after his dad died in a fire. Through some unusual atmospheric conditions and an old HAM radio, he is suddenly able to communicate to his father in the past. The result is the ability to prevent the accident that killed his father.

The movie caught my attention for several reasons: it was a story involving public safety officers, I had just edited an entry about HAM radio operators and the main character had lost his father as a child. Having lost my father to cancer when I was young made the movie a little difficult to watch. Part of the plot used the theme of "what if." My dad died about 34 years ago and I still catch myself asking "what if" about my dad. I don't have the benefit of funky atmospheric conditions and an old Ham radio to communicate to my dad 30 years in the past like the character in the movie. I only have the memories of the time I had with him and a faith that tells me that I will see him again some day.

The movie did get me thinking though. During this time of year, it seems like things move faster. Our time commitments because of the end of the year and holiday season seem to multiply. It reminded me that we need to treasure the time we have for the things important to us. Time spent with family and friends, especially our kids, is a limited commodity: one in which we don't have the luxury of negotiating an extension.

Take advantage of the time you have.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

SKYWARN Recognition Day

Today is SKYWARN Recognition Day.

Our Northfield Police Reserves serve as our primary response for weather spotters. Our police officers also receive the training to assist.

Another important component in our emergency system are our local HAM radio operators. They serve as a link during an emergency. In today's world, they serve a vital communications link and I thank them for their volunteer time.

Tim Isom is our Emergency Management Director in Northfield. He is also our instructor who conducts the SKYWARN classes in Northfield. He has opened the training for both our spotters and public safety officers as well as interested members of the public. He is also our local HAM Radio coordinator and helps to coordinate the MARS radio network in our area. Tim's real job is with IT services at St. Olaf College. We appreciate St. Olaf allowing Tim to serve in this vital public safety role.

Tim also coordinates other safety and informational classes that relate to homeland security and disaster drills and participation in the city emergency operations plan. You can email him here or call and leave a message for him at 507-645-4477.

Officer Down

Officer Melissa M. Foster of the Columbus, Ohio Division of Police was killed today after her police vehicle was struck by a vehicle who crossed the center line of the roadway. Officer Foster was responding to police call when the accident occurred. Officer Foster was a seven year veteran of the police department and is survived by her two children.

To view Officer Foster's memorial page, please click here.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

A Good Evening

My wife, Ruth and I attended the St. Olaf Christmas Festival tonight. For those of you who might not be familiar with this event, I've linked it above. It is one of the premier musical events of the year. Anywhere.

In addition to enjoying over two hours of inspirational music, one has the opportunity to meet and greet new and old friends.

The Festival was our link to Northfield before we moved here. We would always listen to the Festival via public radio. It was a reassuring link to our future home when we made the decision to move here.

It is truly an inspirational event and we feel fortunate to have the opportunity to attend and enjoy the dedication of the young musicians and their mentors!

I also appreciate the dedication of the St. Olaf Security staff, our Northfield police officers, reserves and explorers who brave the outside elements each night of the festival to help people safely get in and out of the campus. The Northfield Fire and Rescue officers volunteer their time to be on site in the event someone needs medical assistance. All this happens seamlessly while the rest of us sit comfortably indoors, enjoying the event.

Thanks to you all.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Worth Mentioning

I received the following from the Sheila Wellstone Institute. The issues of domestic violence commands everyone's attention so I'm posting this information here for you.

A Concert to End Domestic Violence

We can all work to end violence against women! With the Violence Against Women Act up for reauthorization in Congress in 2005, it has never been more important for women and men to join together to educate, advocate, and organize to end violence against women. What: An evening of great local music and an opportunity to join the effort to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. All proceeds benefit the Sheila Wellstone Institute and Casa de Esperanza.

When: Monday, December 6th at 5:30 pm

Where: Fine Line Music Cafe, 318 1st Avenue North, Minneapolis

Please click here to RSVP and Let us know you're coming!

**Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door. Please note that this is an 18+ show.