A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Drug Abuse Is Top Concern Among Chiefs

A recent report by the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, College Park shows results of responses of police administrators across the United States.

The gist of the report was the concern expressed by police administrators over their ability to have the resources necessary address the identified concerns of substance above.




It should be noted that the impact of substance abuse goes beyond the enforcement and interdiction of drug activities. It impacts the levels of other crimes such as property theft, especially shoplifting, as people steal things to try to get cash for drugs or precursors for the manufacture of drugs. It impacts family crimes as substance abuse is often the result of domestic assault, child abuse and neglect. It impacts other property crimes such as vandalism and thefts from vehicles. It also plays a role in other assaults and often burglaries and robberies.
When the survey talks about the frustration of police administrators not having adequate resources to address the problem, it encompasses many areas. Not surprising, the smaller the size of the agency, the higher the frustration level of the administrators' concern over lack of resources.

The Police Foundation commissioned a study conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, in December 2004 to conduct a a survey of police administrators about their views on drug crimes and other issues.

At a time, especially in Minnesota, when police administrators are experiencing growing populations and demands for service, funding and staffing levels have either been reduced or have grown stagnate. Funding for special enforcement efforts at the state and federal level have sharply declined. It is a growing problem and concern, and one that police administrators must be open and honest about with their respective constituencies.

It is bad public policy to reap short term financial gains at the cost of long term stability of the safety of our communities through the lack of adequate funding of our public safety and criminal justice organizations. Whether through the establishment of new priorities or funding sources, communities need to share their concerns and expectations with federal, state, and local elected representatives and hold them accountable for their actions.

The lower rates of criminal activity we experience today are due in a large part to the building up of resources in the 1980's and 1990's. A failure to maintain adequate resources will most certainly result in a resurgence of violent crime and a lowering of our overall quality of life.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

Officer Down

Detective Thomas Cochran of the Lawrenceburg, Indiana Police Department died on January 26th from injuries sustained in an automobile accident on January 25th. Detective Cochran was responding to a call of a suicidal man when the accident occurred. Detective Cochrain had served in law enforcement for 35 years. He is survived by his wife, three daughters, two sons and four grandchildren.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Why Parents Go Gray

I received this from a colleague and and thought a lighter posting might be in order.

Why Parents Go Gray

The boss of a big company who needed to call one of his employees about an urgent problem with one of the main computers, dialed the employee's home phone number and was greeted with a child's whisper,

"Hello." "Is your daddy home?" he asked.
"Yes," whispered the small voice.
"May I talk with him?"
The child whispered, "No."
Surprised, and wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, "Is your mommy there?"
"Yes."
"May I talk with her?"
Again the small voice whispered, "No."
Hoping there was somebody with whom he could leave a message, the boss asked, "Is anybody else there?"
"Yes," whispered the child, "a policeman."
Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee's home, the boss asked, "May I speak with the policeman?"
"No, he's busy", whispered the child.
"Busy doing what?"
"Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the Fireman", came the whispered answer.
Growing concerned and even worried as he heard what sounded like a helicopter through the earpiece on the phone the boss asked, "What is that noise?"
"A hello-copper" answered the whispering voice.
"What is going on there?" asked the boss, now alarmed.
In an awed whispering voice the child answered, "The search team just landed the hello-copper."
Alarmed, concerned, and even more then just a little frustrated the boss asked, "What are they searching for?"
Still whispering, the young voice replied along with a muffled giggle:

"ME"

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Doing Good Work

I was invited to attend a reception yesterday evening to celebrate the good work that is being accomplished on a daily basis by the Hope Center. There isn't a link I can provide but the dedicated staff and volunteers at the Hope Center provide support and assistance to those in abusive situations. They serve all of Rice County. It was good to see a number of Rice County residents and communities representatives attend.

The Hope Center is currently raising funds for their continued operation. If you are interested in helping them out or learning more about what they do, contact them at 507-332-0882.

Monday, January 24, 2005

A Good Example of Police & Blogs In Reverse

I happened across a weblog by Brian Hines. He posted an interesting item entitled "Police do read weblogs" about a response he received from a police chief about a previous blog entry.

This is a good example why police administrators should become familiar with weblogs in their area and be willing to participate. It certainly provides an opportunity to interact with your community. The good natured banter shows the chief has a good sense of humor. Not a bad trait to demonstrate to the public these days.

As a new chief, one of my first connections to what was going on in Northfield was a web cafe that has evolved to what is now known as Northfield.org. I learned about concerns, caught up on Y2K issues and met some new residents. I was able to discuss some mutual concerns and even get a few things fixed.

This blog entry is a perfect example of building a solid bond between the community and their police officers.

Late Night Legend

Like many of you, I grew up watching Johnny Carson. He was even more of an attraction in Nebraska, where he spent most of his years growing up and attending school both in Norfolk and then college at the University of Nebraska.

There are quite a few stories about his career, but I can attest that he didn't forget his roots. Mr. Carson was a benevolent benefactor to both his home community and the University. When he came to town, he visited with local folks he knew. To the best of my knowledge he never once exploited anyone or used his generosity as a PR gimmick.

He provided me with many fond memories and for that I'll always be grateful.


Sunday, January 23, 2005

Blogging In The News

There is an interesting article entitled "Weekend in the Blogosphere" posted on the Poynteronline website that came my way on January 21st. If you are interested in "blogging" you will find it worth reading. If you are not a "blogger" you should read it anyway as I think the author, Chip Scanlan, makes some good observations about the emergence of blogging and how others might perceive it.

Perhaps at some point, he might review the weblogs of the civic bloggers both here in the U.S. as well as the U.K.

There is another article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "When Bloggers Make News" by Jessica Mintz. It's worth a read as well.

Tell me what you think of the authors' observations. Depending on the volume of returns, I'll try to get some of your responses posted here yet this week.

Have a good week!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Officer Down

Officer Lloyd Rogers of the Castleberry Independent School District Police, Texas, Died of a fatal heart attack after breaking up a fight between two juveniles in front of a middle school. Officer Rogers had served 9 years the police service. He is survived by his wife, son and four grandchildren. To view Officer Rogers' memorial page, click here.

Hey...It Snowed!

And about time.....




It took a while, but it finally looks like January in Minnesota. This scene was pretty typical around Northfield today. Sounds like we have the opportunity to accumulate a bit more of the white stuff in the upcoming week.

Remember that snow plows will be out all weekend so please honor the parking ban and snow emergency by keeping vehicles off the streets and designated parking lots.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Around The Block Newsletter for 1-18-05

Here's the most recent edition of Around The Block. To view the document formatted in PDF, click here.

Blogging Across The Pond

Last month, I mentioned in my weblog about an invitation I received from my 'blogging mentor, Griff Wigley, to discuss and share weblog ideas and experiences with a number of individuals from the U.K. For the past several weeks, I've been reading and sharing experiences with a number of these fine individuals and have been impressed by their abilities to use their weblogs to reach their constituents. Some are just starting out, and others are regular pros.

Andrew Brown, London Borough of Lewisham, has developed an excellent weblog and it is a good example how officials throughout the UK have taken advantage of weblogs to get a message out to their constituents.

Weblog Worth Noting

Christa Miller recently posted an entry in her weblog about the potential of weblog use in the law enforcement discipline. I would agree that the potential for weblogs in policing is significant. The concept of E-Democracy, providing opportunity for discussion and dialogue, is unprecedented, in my opinion.

There are several good references and links contained within her weblog posting I would strongly suggest you take a moment click the links above and review the material.

I'm old enough and have lived enough places that I recall individuals literally up on a box in a public space purporting their ideals and/or plight. Some of them were really out there and people just walked on by, but once in a while, one of them would catch the interest or imagination of a few and soon a crowd would grow.

Figuratively speaking, I believe that weblogs offer that same concept and opportunity. With the availability of Internet access in public places, I think this type of forum can provide the opportunity for people to "walk on by" or stop and catch a ride on a dream if they so choose.

Hopefully, I can occasionally catch your attention, confide in a dream, be a cheerleader for our police officers or share my passion for building better partnerships in our communities.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Snow -Snow-Snow & Personal Responsibility

Sounds like we may be in for some snow. Just a reminder that the city's winter parking ban prohibits vehicle parking on streets from 2 am to 6 am every day, snow or no snow. If we get the snow amounts forecast, plows will be out and our officers will be tagging and towing vehicles. You may want to check local news in case a snow emergency is called. In that case, vehicles may not park on streets until the snow emergency is lifted.

You can call the Street Department at 645-3050 or our police department office at 645-4477 if you have questions.

I recently received a letter from an individual who was concerned that most of the "law-abiding" citizens were working to remove their vehicles from the streets as per the ordinance only to see some misguided neighbors parking on the street. He was a bit concerned that officers were not ticketing all the vehicles in Northfield.

This raises a good point. Often regulatory signs are erected without consideration to the impact of the increased demand on existing police staffing levels and a heightened community expectation of enforcement. It's an issue I raise every time another no parking zone is posted or other regulations go into place that require additional police enforcement/education.

The basis of parking enforcement is much the same as other laws. The expectation is that there will be voluntary compliance by the members of the community. Most of the time this is what happens and I appreciate the willingness most everyone displays to follow the ordinances and laws.

For those who chose to disregard ordinances, the odds are that eventually they will be identified. In the case of disregarding winter parking bans several things may happen:

1. They will be ticketed
2. They may have their vehicle towed and impounded
3. Both 1&2 can happen
4. The snow plow will come by, bury the vehicle and it will still get a ticket and probably eventually be towed since it will be difficult to dig out which will result in a substantially higher tow bill for the vehicle owner.
5. The vehicle may be struck while snowbound by another vehicle or a snowplow.

Seems to me none of these are very attractive.

I generally receive about an equal number of letters and telephone calls from individuals who are upset because we are issuing parking tickets and those who are upset because they don't think we are issuing enough parking tickets. I suppose it depends on your perspective. In talking to my peers in other cities, winter parking issues generally cause more consternation than nearly any other kind of enforcement activity. This year's lack of snow hasn't helped with respect to keeping residents and visitors mindful of the need for parking restrictions in snowbelt states in the winter.

Street crews tell me that the problem with allowing parking even when there is no snow is that a quick accumulation of snow in the middle of the night means they have to get out and start clearing streets. Illegally parked vehicles wind up snowbound and then we get calls as does the street department, from angry people who had parked illegally on the street who are now upset because their cars are snowbound or were towed.

As I've previously mentioned, we post notices on vehicles prior to the November 15th effective date. We post notices in the local print media, and provide it to other media outlets. The information generally goes out in utility bills and we post notices at public buildings around town, including both college campuses. Overall, we expend a considerable amount of time and financial resources to the education and enforcement component to try to ensure our streets remain safe.
As in most community matters, it ultimately boils down to individual responsibility....

Ok, time to stop so I can go out and make sure I can find my snow shovel.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Officer Down

Sheriff Matt Samuels, of the Greenwood County, Kansas Sheriff's Office was shot and killed on Wednesday, January 19th at 10:00 a.m. by a person who Sheriff Samuels and two other deputies were trying to serve a warrant upon.

Sheriff Samuels had served with the Greenwood County Sheriff's Office for 21 years and had served as sheriff for 5 years. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

To view Sheriff Samuels' memorial page, click here.

Interesting Article

While attending the FBI National Academy earlier this year, several of my associates and I authored an article about using new technologies to recruit police officer candidates. You can view that article in Police Chief Magazine by clicking here. Special thanks to Chief Gene Ellis of the DeWitt, Iowa Police Department for working on getting the article published.

Let me know what you think of the article and the concepts contained therein.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Officer Down

Officer James Mitchell Prince, 36, of the Boiling Spring Lakes, North Carolina Police Department was shot and killed on Tuesday, January 18th with his own service weapon while making a traffic stop. While trying to arrest the suspect on a probation violation, the suspect got control of Officer Prince's weapon and shot him three times. He is survived by his wife and two small children.

To view Officer Prince's Memorial Page, click here.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Civics Lesson

My son, Chris, is a freshman at Northfield Senior High School this year. He has spent the weekend preparing for his midterm exams. Most of yesterday afternoon, he was working on reviewing the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution for his Civics class with Mr. Kevin Dahle.

Chris asked me a few "clarification questions." Most of the time, I could deal with them from memory. Prior to moving to Minnesota, I was fortunate enough to serve as a adjunct professor for the University of Nebraska at Kearney Department of Criminal Justice, (Go Lopers! Sorry, it's my alma mater). One of the classes I instructed was on that dealt with principles of investigation, which involved a lot of constitutional issues.

Discussing the impact of the 4th and 5th Amendments reminded me how misunderstood many of the issues are by many.

The experience was also a bit humbling as Chris corrected a few errors in my recollections as well.

It's good to have the opportunity to share knowledge and experience with your kids. Homework and extra study assignments sure are a great opportunity.

Community Involvement-Building Partnerships

Throughout the year, I try to have a number of informal meetings where neighborhood groups can meet to discuss their concerns and just have a better idea of what is going on with their police.

Councillor Louise Alexander, of the London City Council actually incorporates a section of her website to police issues. Specifically, one area provides information where residents of her ward can meet with police.

Herman Goldstein, in his book, Problem Oriented Policing, discusses the concern that often occurs when the police become active in neighborhoods in preventing crime and responding to citizen concerns. Goldstein stated in the book that there have been occasions when ward representatives were often unprepared for the police to involve themselves in direct contact with constituents, a role the elected representatives often felt was theirs. Goldstein advocates the need to keep everyone in the loop to allow for full participation and ownership in problem solving strategies to ensure success, without direct political interference in police functions.

Councillor Alexander's inclusion of crime and police information in her website is a good example of what I believe Goldstein advocates.

On several occasions State Representative Ray Cox has also included activities of our local police department in his weblog. A good example is his inclusion of our National Night Out Activities in 2004.

Both the previous illustrations are good examples how elected officials can participate in community/police partnerships.

A Day To Reflect

Today is Martin Luther King's birthday. To understand the significance of Dr. King's life, one only has to view how his life is forever attached to the struggles of those who are oppressed. How we not only celebrate his life and the contributions he made but also the impact he made on our lives.

Several events this month have returned those troubled times to us.

A Washington Post Article earlier this month describing the arrest and indictment of a man long suspected of being involved in the killing of three students in Philadelphia, Mississippi in the 1960's that was the catalyst of the movie "Mississippi Burning."

The second is the recent news story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune regarding the 1970 killing of a police officer.

The two articles both outline the terrible violence that was beset on so many in the 1950's and 1960's. These two events stand out in my mind because they were opposite of each other for many reasons.

The first, three civil rights advocates were in Mississippi to help educate and work toward a better life for others. They were brutally murdered by locals that involved law enforcement officers. Despite the involvement of federal authorities, the matter hasn't totally been resolved. It would appear that one more of those responsible for the murders may face justice over forty years later.

The second, clear across the country in St. Paul, Minnesota, saw an officer gunned down who was responding to a call to assist a person who was having a baby. Recent reports are indicating that the officer was murdered symbolically out of the rage against those who saw the police as part of the conspiracy of the "establishment." The arrests of two individuals this past week will no doubt bring out many of the memories and emotions surrounding this incident.

In both cases, extremism and violence brought death to those who were symbols of something despised by others. Something that Dr. King preached was counterproductive.

In a time that is wrought with violence and hatred throughout the world, we could do well to be inspired by Dr. King's "Dream." I would hope that we learn from the mistakes of the past and work toward a better future.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

My Obligation...

I was going through some files on my computer yesterday and I came across a short item I wrote back early in 2002. I had written it for publication in a police administration magazine or local association publication. It never was published. I know I'm no Clarence Darrow and I suspect that the theme was not necessarily one that publishers often want to publish.

Self-examination can be painful but is absolutely necessary in a profession where your word and integrity is everything. I thought it would be appropriate to put it here. It is a good snapshot of how I view a good part of my responsibility as police chief to our community.

It is an Adobe pdf format document and you can access it by clicking here.

I'll be interested in your comments. If you aren't comfortable with posting for everyone to see, feel free to email me.


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration

Drawing by Eleanor Mill


The Northfield Human Rights Commission met again tonight for its monthly meeting. A good amount of the time was dedicated to finalizing their hard work for the upcoming celebration remembering the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This year's event will be held on Monday, January 11th at the Northfield Middle School Auditorium (2200 Division Street).

The featured speaker is Professor James Farrell of the Department of History at St. Olaf College.

Music will be provided by the Northfield Youth Choir, St. Olaf Gospel Ensemble and Carleton College African Drummers.

Refreshments will be served following the celebration.

The event will also mark the announcement of the 2004 Human Rights Award recipient.

We would also like to thank the sponsors who have come forward so far to assist with the Celebration:

Carleton College, First National Bank of Northfield, Northfield Hospital, Kwik Kopy Printing, Northfield Ministerial Association, St. Olaf College, Northfield Public Schools, National Honor Society, Community National Bank, City of Northfield, Econofoods, Rotary Club of Northfield, and Wells Fargo Bank.

This is a fantastic event celebrating the excellent legacy and remarkable life of one of the most significant people of the 20th Century. I would strongly encourage you to attend.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Officer Down

Officer Scott Armstrong of the Bridgeton, Missouri Police Department died on January 12th as a result of a vehicle accident when his squad was struck by a vehicle driven the wrong way on I-370 near I-270. Officer Armstrong was survived by his fiancee. He had served with the Bridgeton Police Department for 2 years.

To view Officer Armstrong's memorial page, click here.

Officer Down

Deputy Sheriff Edward Schroeder of the York County, Pennsylvania Sheriff's Department died of a heart attack on January 10th while conducting mandatory training. Deputy Schroeder was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He was survived by his wife and mother. To view Deputy Schroeder's memorial page, click here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Officer Down

Corrections Officer Manuel A. Gonzales of the California Department of Corrections was stabbed to death by an inmate while working in the Sycamore Hall of the California Institution for Men in Chino, California on January 10, 2005. Officer Gonzales had worked for the California Corrections Department for 17 years. He is survived by his wife and five children. To view Officer Gonzales' memorial page, click here.

Officer Down

Sergeant Howard Stevenson of the Ceres, California Police Department was killed on January 10th from a gunshot injury from a semi-automatic rifle. Sergeant Stevenson was responding to a report of an armed person who was acting strangely. Sergeant Stevenson had served the department for 20 years. He is survived by his wife, son and two daughters. To view Sergeant Stevenson's memorial page, click here.

Item of Interest

I received this email today. It talks about the need to be careful when reading information obtained off web sources.

Click Here to Read the Article from the Poyner Institute.

I believe that many of the issues in this article are important factors before one places information in a weblog or any other format that is going to be available to others to view.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Even During A Disaster

I read a recent email notification from CNN regarding a terrorist attack in Sri Lanka during a funeral of some of the victims of the tsunami. The gist of the article is that despite the terrible conditions resulting from the tsunami, local residents, government officials and rescue and aid workers still have to contend with terrorist activities.

So far, we don't have to deal with terrorists activities during emergencies such as tornadoes or floods. So far....

Part of our review process when we evaluate our emergency operations plan is how do we continue to deal with day-to-day matters while dealing with an emergency. The reality is that even during disasters and sometimes more often during a disaster or emergency, we still have to deal with family disputes, theft, assaults, and the normal day-to-day stuff as well as extra concerns brought on by a disaster or emergency like curfews, looters and gawkers.

I noticed that the already high incidents of child abuse/slavery activities in many of the countries hit hard by the tsunami have escalated since the disaster according to news reports I've read from CNN and Fox News.

What this means for emergency planners is that in addition to the security concerns of day-to-day activities, they must factor in the additional protection of rescue and aid workers and a higher level of protection for those most vulnerable.

It's also a very sad commentary on those who lurk in the shadows who would take the opportunity to prey on children and others most vulnerable in our communities.

It's a daunting job and one we don't take lightly. Our Emergency Management Director, Tim Isom works with us to review our operation plans and to regularly take stock of our inventories and resources to make sure we have an accurate picture of how we can best respond to various emergencies.

If you would like to be part of our cadre of volunteers to help, you can get in touch with Tim Isom for Skywarn and other weather related emergencies; Sergeant Ted Berg or Officer Jody Spinner if you would be interested in participating in our Police Reserve Officer Program or Police Explorer Program; and you may contact Tim Isom if you are interested in our Citizen Emergency Response Teams. All of these individuals can be reached through the regular police department business number which is 507-645-4477.

If you are not a Northfield resident but would like to get involved in your community, call your local police or fire department.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

More on Weblogs

The Poynter Institute has a very interesting article on the role weblogs are playing in the tsunami tragedy. Visit that site here.

When time permits I'll return to this topic to discuss the implications on crime prevention and safety weblogs will play in the future. In the meantime. Please let me know what you think. How do you see the potential or do you? I'd like to hear from you.


Friday, January 07, 2005

Officer Down

Officer Bryan Hurst, 33, of the Columbus, Ohio Division of Police was shot and killed during the robbery of a bank on January 6th. The suspect remains at large. Officer Hurst was an 8 year veteran of the Columbus Division of Police and is survived by his wife and six month old daughter. To view Officer Hurst's memorial page, click here.

In The News

Nick Coleman recently mentioned weblogs in his column space in the Star Tribune again. If you click on the link, you will find he is speaking about the recent Time Magazine (normally I would link the Time article, however, you have to pay to view it) designation of a Twin Cities weblog being named "Blog of the Year." The weblog is Powerline.

Northfield resident and fellow blogger Scott Neal responded to Mr. Coleman's first discussion of weblogs, asking him to keep an open mind for those of us trying to use the format for positive, constructive civic discussion. That response made its way to Citizen Wig and Northfield.Org.

I noticed that today's Strib OpEd page also showed a response from the editor that Mr. Coleman had listed as responsible for squashing an editorial endorsement for a former governor. Mr. Parkinson took exception to Mr. Coleman's recollection of the events he described.

Hmmm, let's see, the Star Trib allowed space for Roger Parkinson, to rebut Mr. Coleman. Sounds a little bit like a weblog, interaction.

The letter was a catalyst for me to respond here when I chose not to the first time. Why you might ask?

Because I think that just as I choose to be careful not to use a broad brush to draw a conclusion when posting entries on this site, I think other media outlets need to abide by the same journalistic principle. I've observed a good number of tabloids available on "newsstands close to you" and in most supermarkets, that I could make a strong argument they are the 19th century technological equivalent of the rogue bloggers to which Mr. Coleman referred in his recent article.

I can't possibly imagine that Mr. Coleman would advocate any type of government control on individuals voicing their opinions, albeit as far "out" as some of them may be: so I'm not sure what he would like to see happen to weblog authors.

I 've browsed a number of "blogs" out there and they run the gambit...sort of like some of the independent hard copy printed papers out there. The key is to keep perspective. I suspect that King George wasn't particularly happy with some of the colonial newspapers he read a long time ago. They too were subversive, inaccurate and often abusive.. at least in King George's opinion.

I guess it all depends on one's perspective. What I see is that the Internet can be a powerful but a painful reminder of our society. It offers a lot of positive and wonderful opportunities but there is certainly a dark side there. It's loud, nasty and often down in the mud. It also shows our best moments as evidenced by the outpouring of support and encouragement to those victims of the recent disaster in Asia.

I'm of the mind that those who are slanderous, whether hard copy or electronic, will ultimately meet their journalistic demise because there will always be someone out there who will point out that the "emperor has no clothes:" they will lose their credibility and no one will read their work.

In some cases the court system intervenes as it recently did in the case of the county supervisor and a local newspaper here in Minnesota.

There is an awesome responsibility in putting words and ideas into this space. In the 1800's and 1900's, printed papers were saved in libraries and newspapers kept copies for reference. The electronic world of weblogs connected to syndication and search engines guarantees that what's written will be around a long time.

The Internet is here to stay. Writer's stylebooks now include formats to reference web sites as legitimate sources of information. Does it mean that all data found on the Internet is correct? No, not any more that I would say that all ideas and thoughts written in books and newspapers are correct.

It is the challenge and responsibility of the reader to discern between fact and fiction, to challenge what is posited and to insist on correction when errors are found. Thus the tradition of intelligent, public discourse can remain healthy and alive.

Perhaps we can develop a 21st century equivalent of the term "yellow journalism" to refer to the negative electronic world of journalism. I'm thinking along the lines of "bogus code."

I think it's important to not be locked into old paradigms. I've heard several times that if Railroads had thought of themselves as transportation companies instead of being locked to the "rail," we might be flying on the Union Pacific Airline System. Can we possibly equate the same thinking to new ways of public discourse and exchange?

I dismiss the concept that we cannot move into a new medium in which to exchange ideas. The world of the Internet will be no less difficult to access that it was for someone in the 1890's to find a nickel to buy a newspaper. Libraries have always been the point for free access to information whether it is printed word or electronic word and I suspect they will be around in some form for many years to come.

I do suppose one could argue it is difficult to line a birdcage with an electronic version of a weblog versus a printed newspaper.

So...what's the connection with this police chief and his weblog?

This is an exciting time. It's a time of change. How the change impacts us is ours to decide. If you subscribe, as I do, that we will succeed in keeping our communities safe and turn the tide on crime by involving community members in prevention strategies and problem solving, then having the ability to communicate easily and as frequently as I feel necessary is absolutely important. It may only be one part of the strategy but it is a unique opportunity that can help set the standard for years to come.

The fact that I hear from people literally around the block and around the continent impresses upon me the importance of what is written here. It is a great opportunity for a positive exchange of ideas.

It's exciting to be part of an emerging form of communication.

Postscript: Christa reminded me to suggest you check out http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp? The Poynter Institute is sort of the "conscience" of journalism if you will. One of my instructors at the FBI Academy, Penny Parish, who is a former news director from one of our Minneapolis TV stations, reintroduced me to the Institute. Check out this article. As Christa states, it sounds like the mainstream media knows the potential of weblogs.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Unfortunate Statistics

The police memorial page I monitor recently submitted the following graphic to show the listing how officers were killed in the line of duty from 1995 to 2004. I feel the information reinforces the fact that policing is still a dangerous occupation.



Note: the spike in 2001 represents those lost in the World Trade Center and Washington DC terrorist acts on 9/11.

If you are interested in learning more, you can click here to go to the Officer Down Memorial page.

Godspeed to those officers lost in 2004.

Monday, January 03, 2005

What Does the New Year Hold?

What will 2005 bring? Time will tell. During the next few weeks. we will start the process of reviewing past trends to help identify the strategies we will employ to try to limit or prevent criminal activity.

For example, we know that each spring and fall, we see an increase in a number of property crimes like vandalism to buildings and car prowls. Our challenge is to find new ways to not just control this type of problem but to prevent it with existing resources. As we work through the ideas and input we receive from the community and our staff, I'll share those strategies with you here.

As you can well imagine, the concerns of the community vary significantly from one area of the community to the other. Part of our job is to balance those concerns successfully while still meeting the traditional needs expected of the police.

It's a good process and helps to serve as a measuring guide as we evaluate weekly activities in our community as we work our way through 2005.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Watch Out!

The only good news about the ice and sleet we received on New Years' Day was it happened on a day when a lot of people had the option of staying home. It wasn't a whole lot better on Sunday. For the most part, motorists seemed to get around reasonably well. Unfortunately, the news reports indicated a lot of holiday travelers got stranded in airports and along the Interstate though many parts of the U.S.

We still had our share of drivers who fail to realize that a 4-wheel drive or front wheel drive vehicle really doesn't stop much better on ice than other vehicles. I witnessed my share of "slide-by" stops looking out my kitchen window the last couple days. It's always interesting to watch the expression on the drivers' faces when they realize they won't be stopping where they thought they would.

I looked up winter driving on the MnDot (Minnesota Department of Transportation) site and after a little looking around did a search for winter driving. Click here to go to that lookup page. I would encourage you to review the safety tips. It's a good investment in your time.
Please remember that winter driving conditions require you to plan for a lot of extra time to get to your destination. Haste and impatience is never welcomed on the roadway but it is especially hazardous when the weather is less than hospitable to driving. Road crews can only do so much during icy conditions so please do your part and slow down.

One other thing, our office staff gets quite a few calls from people asking them what road conditions are in various parts of North America. Most of the time, they can let you know how roads are in front of the Safety Center because they can see that through the window. If you need more detailed information, I would suggest you call the highway hotline for road conditions (in Minnesota it's 511 on your cell phone or you can go to their site by clicking here to select the section of the state in which you which to gather road information about). The general 800 road information number is 800-542-0220.

Another option is the Weather Channel Website where you can at least get weather information for the specific area in which you are interested. To go there, click here.

I had the chance to watch a program called Airline on the A&E Channel on Saturday. They were showing what airline employees have to deal with at airports: everything from intoxicated passengers to destitute passengers to dried fish in a handbag. I've seen first hand how a lot of travelers take out their frustrations on the front-line folks. Having spent my fair share of time in airports, I appreciate what these folks have to put up with. If you get a chance, view one of the programs and next time you travel, thank these folks for getting you from point A to point B.

Happy New Year!