A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Saturday, April 30, 2005

A Following Maybe?

Maybe police chief bloggers have a following? This posting from Eden Prairie Police Chief Dan Carlson generated interest when he posted an entry that had "Gary S" as the author regarding some photos shot.

As Dan states, it's interesting what generates the reader responses.

Officer Memorial

Police Officer Tommy Edward Scott, of the Los Angeles, California World Airports Police Department was killed after he stopped a suspicious man near the airport. The subject got away from Officer Scott, got into the squad car and drove away dragging Officer Scott with him. After killing Officer Scott and wrecking the police vehicle, the suspect carjacked a motorist and sped away. He lost control of that vehicle seconds later and launched up an embankment and over an airfield perimeter fence before landing upside down in an adjacent parking lot. He was arrested and charged with murder. Officer Scott had served his department for four years.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Clerks, Administrative Assistants, Secretaries, Office Assistants

There are a lot of names out there for hard working men and women who keep our information process going in our offices and organizations. They answer the phones, get the messages, get the information where it needs to go, keep others on time and make sure things in general don't bog down. This is the week designated to honor these dedicated individuals.

We are fortunate to have a fine group of individuals working at the police department office. Donah Broadhead, Tracy Kolterman, Mischelle Watkins and Karen Mangold keep things running in our office. I was pleased to invite our staff to lunch today. It's a small token of appreciation for all the hard work and assistance they provide.

These are the voices you hear when you call our office during business hours and the faces you will see when you come to our office. They are excellent sources of information and I appreciate the vast amount of knowledge they posses in the area of Criminal Justice.

Thanks to Donah, Tracy, Mischelle, and Karen for all that you do!

It's fitting during this week for special recognition but one week or one day can't fully convey my appreciation and thanks for all you do.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Officer Memorials

Police Officer Larry Lasater of the Pittsburg, California Police Department died of gunshot wounds he sustained on April 23rd trying to arrest two robbery suspects. Officer Lasater was a Marine Corps Veteran and is survived by his expectant wife.

Detective Anthony (Tony) Hosey of the Illinois State University Police Department was killed in an automobile accident on I-55 while enroute to plainfield, Illinois. He is survived by his wife and four children.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Officer Memorial

Police Officer Mark Cross, of the Atlanta, Georgia Police Department, was shot and killed after he and his partner had approached a suspicious vehicle. The occupants of the vehicle immediately open fire on the officers killing Officer Cross and wounding his partner. A third officer returned fire killing the suspect. A second suspect was wounded and taken into custody. Officer Cross was a six year veteran of his department and is survived by his wife and two children.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Job Invades the Privacy of My Family

Back in the 1980's I was one of the lucky street cops.

My kids weren't around yet or were young enough while I was still regularly wearing a uniform and on the street that they didn't get too much peer pressure. Once in a while a teacher would give my son a bad time about who his dad was but not much more than that. My son did see a guy spit on me one time when we were in the mall back in Nebraska shopping for a gift for his mother. Fortunately the guy was as bad at his spitting aim as he had been trying to punch me out the night before and missed me.

Once you get into an administrative position or a chief's position, there is less likelihood of other kids harassing your kids too much because you are not out actively arresting people, usually.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case tonight for my daughter. She arrived home from an event tonight pretty much in tears after a number of kids had given her a bad time about... believe it or not... the drug arrests that both Faribault and Northfield Police Departments conducted way back last fall. Apparently a few of the relatives of these kids found themselves in jail as a result of the arrest of individuals who were charged with 1st degree (yeah that's the most serious kind) of drug sale and distribution (cocaine mostly). Ironically, some of the sales of these drugs were to kids. There were kids living in the homes of these drug dealers who were about the same age of my daughter.

I digress...forgive a father's ramblings.

Based on what my daughter told me, it would appear that these kids have sat in on a number of discussions where the adults have been discussing how they will get revenge on the cops, specifically myself, for rounding up a bunch of folks who prefer to sell drugs to kids and other vulnerable (cocaine by the way), adults in our communities, rather that go out and find an honest occupation.

It brought home again to me the same emotions I felt when I posted the confessions of a police chief a while back after we found a "hit list" with our names on them in the possession of a bunch of meth users. I'm still planning on letting you know who the names are of those who had the list, once that investigation is done by the way.

It reminds me of the sacrifice my drug agents make going out and putting the safety of themselves and their families at risk tracking down those who supply drugs to our communities. How would you like to go to a drug raid and find pictures of your kids on the playground at their school? How would you like to go into a meth house and find your picture on the wall with a bullseye on it?

It reminds me how difficult it can be on an officer's family members when the cop goes out and does their job, the one the community expects them to do, only to have members of the community harass their family because they do it well.

It's not only kids either. I've spoken to officers who have told me of problems their spouses and significant others have in dealing with people who aren't real happy with police officers. No surprise that cops who are on the job when they get married often get divorced the first couple years after they do get married. Their spouse just can't take the stress. No wonder we lose good police officers to other occupations because they get tired of the risk to their families. It's also why it's difficult for law enforcement people to develop friendships and social circles outside the law enforcement community.

I remember a couple years ago, I was sitting in a Northfield eating establishment when I overheard a conversation between two individuals who were quite vulgar about a member of my department. It happened that I knew about the incident they were talking about and it was nothing like the conversation the two were having. Since they were talking loud enough so the whole establishment was in on the conversation, I made a point of walking over, introducing myself and giving them my business card and suggested they might want to meet with me so I could give them the real facts of the story they were spinning. They never took me up on my offer but the rumors they started that day persisted for nearly a year.

Serving in public positions requires public scrutiny. It's an important part of the accountability of public service. With that said, however; slanderous and misrepresentations of fact are not. Fortunately, in Northfield, we are blessed with an abundance of educated and caring individuals who ask if they have questions and work to get the facts straight. An observation that is not lost on the members of our department, by the way.

Next month is National Law Enforcement Memorial Month. We will be remembering those officers who have given their lives so the rest of us can be safe. I regularly post memorials to officers who have died in the line of duty. I consider it an honor and an obligation to share their names and story with you.

We will be holding an officer memorial service in May. I would encourage you to come out and show your support for the men and women in this community who work very hard to keep Northfield a safe place to live. Let them know that you appreciate what they do. Let them know that it IS worth the frustration and the risk because you appreciate and respect what they do.

As for my daughter, my wife and I will dry the tears and I'll remind her again of the need for police officers and that her dad and his associates must be getting the attention of the right people and I will promise her that I will continue to get the attention of the right people because that is the right thing and the honorable thing to do.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Officer Memorial

Officer Larry Cox, a 19 year veteran of the Chillicothe, Ohio Police department and a D.A.R.E. Officer was shot and killed around 10 a.m. on April 21st by a vehicle theft suspect. Officer Cox was off duty at the time and was walking from his parents' home to his house at the time he encountered the suspect. Cox, 42, had joined the department in 1986.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Officer Memorials

Captain Byron Carpenter of the Belmount, North Carolina Police Department died of a heart attack on April 16th while responding to the scene of a fatal accident where a boy had been struck by a car. The 22 year veteran is survived by his wife, a son and daughter.

Detective Sergeant James Allen of the Providence, Rhode Island Police Department was shot and killed with his own handgun on April 17th after a suspect he was interviewing suspect in a robbery and stabbing of an 86 year old woman at police headquarters. The 27 year veteran is survived by his wife, two daughters and a father who is a retired police captain.

Trooper Ralph C. Tatoian of the Missouri State Highway Patrol died as a result of an automobile accident on April 20th. Trooper Tatoian was responding to a call to assist in the search of a suspect who had reportedly shooting a Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy. The 9 year veteran is survived by his wife and three children.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Officer Memorials

Police Officer Steven Zourkas of the Niles, Illinois Police Department was killed on April 8th as the result of an automobile accident while he was traveling to a police call. Officer Zourkas is survived by his wife and two sons.

Deputy Sheriff Kurt Ford
of the Harvey County, Kansas Sheriff's Office was shot and killed on April 9th during a hostage situation that stemmed from a domestic disturbance. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

Sergeant Daniel P. Figgins
of the St. Charles, Illinois Police Department died of a heart attack on April 16th. Sergeant Figgins was pursuing a suspect on foot when he collapsed. The 27 year veteran is survived by his wife and two daughters.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Target Initiative

I received this information today from the Twin Cities Security Partnership:

Target today announced that it will place all products containing pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in the manufacturing of the illegal drug methamphetamine, for purchase behind the pharmacy counter. In stores where there is no pharmacy, products containing pseudoephedrine will not be sold.

Target is the first national retailer to voluntarily decide to place pseudoephedrine-based cough, cold and allergy products behind the pharmacy counter. This new policy will go into effect at all Target stores within the next 60-90 days.

See attached Press Release.

It's nice to see a Minnesota based company lead the way on this matter. Good Job!

House Hearings Ways and Means Committee

Many people are probably not aware that there are audio recordings available on line for House Committee meetings. Here is one from April 4th that among other things discusses the pending meth legislation. This is the Ways and Means Committee discussing HF572 (Johnson, J) Methamphetamine and methamphetamine precursor drug crime provisions established, technical conformity provided, and money appropriated.

You will need Windows Media Player.

As far as I know, the House is still working on the companion language to the Senate version that passed easily some time ago.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

An Evening To Remember....

I'm going to push back my discussion on state funding of criminal justice programs until tomorrow. The reason? I want to comment on the presentation by Ann Coulter who spoke at St. Olaf College this evening to a packed audience at Boe Chapel.

As is the case when any organization brings in a person of national stature, we send a few of our staff to assist with general security. I was asked if our presence this evening was the result of the recent incidents where Ms. Coulter and others who travel the college speaking circuit have been on the receiving end of a pie throwing assault. My response was "not really." Often speakers request assistance with local law enforcement as was the case tonight. Often if we know a large audience is expected that might reach overflow capacity we assist to ensure everyone's safety in the event of an unplanned emergency.

I am often asked how a community like Northfield can manage with such a high college population. My response: easy. I've been in Northfield now for over six years and in that time, I've never found the collective part of our college population anything other than enjoyable to work with. This was the case tonight. Given that tonight's presentation hosted a speaker, that for the most part, assailed most of what the majority of the audience held important, the majority of the audience was respectful not just through civil discourse but showed a great deal of restraint in my estimation. A good number simply exited the auditorium to show their disdain for the speaker's words. A few sullied the collective civility by shouting a few inappropriate comments which just merely fueled Ms. Coulter's assault and unfortunately will probably be the bulk of what is reported on by the mainstream media tomorrow.

This posting is not about the speaker, however; it is about the civility of our student residents and their guests. I left the event tonight knowing that they represented our community well tonght.

I also want to thank those Northfield officers and St. Olaf Security officers who assisted. The efforts you have put forth in the past to establish collegial working relationships with students and staff pays off each opportunity we have to work on both college campuses.

Those visiting Northfield left knowing that Northfield is a place that welcomes diversity, civil discourse and promotes mutual respect.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Recognition Deserved

All the department managers for the city gathered at the Street Department Office at 7:00 a.m. to recognize the employees of the Streets and Parks Division for their dedication and tenure. It gave us an opportunity to meet the employees and for them to meet the department managers. We learned of the various jobs that include everything from maintaining the ice arena to keeping parks in good condition to maintain streets and storm drainage infrastructure and maintaining and cleaning city properties and buildings to helping promote the sustained growth of the trees in our community. Some employees have worked here for over 20 years and some are new.

What was clear was their excitement about what they do. The members of this department have a big impact on the community and are key to the success of most every other department as well.

It was a good way to start the morning.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Governor's Visit

This chief's conference marked the seventh year of my attendance, absent last year when I spent the time at th FBI Academy.

A first for my visits was at Noon today was when Governor Pawlenty spoke to us at our luncheon. This marked the first time I recall any governor attending the sessions of which I have participated. In talking to some of the retired chiefs' I learned that prior to Governor Ventura, having the governor attending the conference to spend time with the chiefs was common.

Governor Pawlenty spoke about a number of initiatives that will keep the drug and gang task forces alive in Minnesota. He also spoke of the seriousness of the meth problem and the attempts of the legislature to pass bills that will help control the access of the ingredients necessary to make it. Currently the Senate has already passed the bill. The House is bogged down in some language that had removed the requirement to make pseudoephedrine a Schedule V drug (Northfield Representative Ray Cox has supported the Chiefs and Sheriffs language). I would encourage you to contact your Representative and encourage them to support the language that is similar to the one passed in the Senate.

The Governor said he was optimistic the House will get back to business and work with the Senate to get the bill to his desk.

Governor Pawlenty also earned my respect for taking questions from the audience. He did this with the normal contingent of media represents present. It was a bit of a risk. Most of us are not happy with recent budget cuts. Questions ranged from how he reconciled cuts in LGA monies to other actions that have impacted policing in Minnesota. The governor answered the questions and whether you agreed with him, at least he took the time to come and make himself available.

Hopefully his presence at the conference signals an renewed interest of state officials to listen to local law enforcement administrators.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Conference Day Tuesday

This morning I attended a presentation by Stephen Gower. Mr. Gower is an accomplished public speaker and well known in law enforcement circles for his presentations and numerous books he has written. I came away with several "messages."

1. Service is a verb . You cannot give what you do not have.

2. Fundamental growth occurs on three legs: where strengths are isolated for purposes of duplication or expansion, where weaknesses are isolated for purposes of minimization or elimination, where one of your strengths actually applies to one of your weaknesses.

3. The anticipation of detours, drags, and discouragement will lessen their drag. This is not to say you should celebrate them, rather be prepared to deal with them and then be successful over them.

4. There is no final destination here. Your growth equals cycle. There are really no endings. Yet, there can always be new beginnings.

5. You cannot motivate people. You can provide the environment and encouragement for motivation but each individual must accept responsibility for their own behavior and conduct and must make the decision to either move forward and look to the future or get bogged down in the traps of every day existence.

Overall it was an excellent presentation. Mr Gower has a down-to-earth presentation style and did an excellent job of engaging the group of about 200 chiefs and law enforcement officers. It was an energizing presentation.

Other activities included a luncheon to honor retired police chiefs, and the opening of the technology exposition. It was also an opportunity to network and visit with other chiefs about what is going on in their communities. With the growing challenges of policing, opportunities like this are valuable.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Chiefs' Conference

I'm attending the Minnesota State Chiefs' Conference in St. Cloud the first part of this week. The conference is actually called the ETI, Educational Training, Institute, I believe. It's a bit different in that if focuses on topics and panel discussions that are relevant to public safety and working with communities.

Yesterday WCCO anchor, Don Shelby, spoke about his Peabody Award winning work with Minnesota youth and challenged participants to be more involved in community based programs.

Next a group called Fight Crime, Invest in Kids presented convincing information about why there is a need for preschool and after school care for younger kids as well as a need for strong family support systems. There were personal examples given by Minnesota officers of they positive experiences in working with troubled youth.

The entire afternoon was dedicated to briefings on homeland security and a panel discussion sponsored by Michael Campion, Commissioner of Public Safety on programs and best practices of Minnesota law enforcement agencies to address the growing immigrant population in the state.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Victims' Rights Exposition

Our department was invited to participate in the victims' rights exposition at the Rice County Courthouse in Faribault yesterday (Friday) from 5pm to 8pm. The event was hosted by the Rice County Attorney's Office.

(Rice County Attorney Paul Beaumaster)

There were numerous displays at the event from various MADD groups, Hope Center, Rice County Social Services, Rice County Community Corrections. Rice County Sheriff and others.

The event concluded with church bells ringing in memory of those who have been victimized and a speech by a Rice County survivor.

Thanks to Paul and his staff for hosting this event.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Terrorism Drill

The Boston Globe website has an article about the recent drill to test the emergency response system that took place on the east coast this week.

The goal was to try to overload the system to expose weaknesses in the various responses and providers. The article reveals some of the issues exposed by the drill.

Testing of our various response protocols takes place regularly in our area as well. The examination examines both the protocols and the application. Obviously, security concerns prevent me from going into detail but I can state that we have competent and qualified people who test our response systems and keep them current. We established this process in 1999 and have refined it after September 2oo1.

You can't plan for every contingency and every emergency but you can make sure your communication channels are in place and that there are mechanisms ready to respond when necessary, whether it is natural or manmade.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Working Together

On Tuesday our officers during the day shift received a call of an individual who was reported to be suicidal, who had reportedly taken an overdose of medication and wandered away outside of the city into the county.

Officers immediately asked for the assistance of the Rice County Sheriff's Office, Dundas P.D. and Northfield Ambulance. Subsequent search efforts brought the Northfield Fire and Rescue staff and Northfield Police Reserve out to assist for the difficult task of walking fields looking for this individual. The latter two groups required the volunteers to leave their places of work to help with the search. The Minnesota State Patrol brought out a helicopter to assist in the search.

The ultimate conclusion was the location of the individual who was ok and taken for medical treatment. This conclusion was possible because of the competence and dedication of the public safety officials involved.

This incident again proved that we are fortunate to have good working relationships with surrounding public safety organizations. It's good to have friends in the neighborhood.

Hate Groups On The Web

Recent years have shown an increase in the number of individuals and groups making their messages of hate and racial bias known through the Internet.

A recent article in the New York Times by Kirk Johnson provides some examples and insight into the use of the Internet by hate groups and individuals who promote hate and violence.

One of the points of the article discusses the disturbing trend nationally where the concept of race-based perspective being part of a legitimate public discourse is being taken seriously. About a month ago. Unfortunately this perspective is not just limited to economically stressed communities. I recall about a month ago an article that appeared in the Star Tribune that reported on a survey that measured views of Minnesota residents toward immigrants and immigration. It was less than flattering.

What is worse is that fringe groups focused on hate and violence are coming out of the woodwork and finding a legitimate voice in editorial pages in local newspapers and at public meetings. As illustrated in this article, some of these individuals actually find their way to the airwaves as hosts of radio programs.

Taylor quotes Leonard Zeskind, a writer who monitors white supremacists: " People don't need to be followers of groups. They just need to be angry."

Members of the Northfield Human Rights Commission are currently working on a number of projects to help bring the issues of hate and violence to light. Hopefully establishing a network of valid information and education will help prevent our residents from being duped as were many of the individuals listed in this article. Watch for dates and announcements for future Northfield Human Rights activities here as they become available.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Well Deserved Recognition

Last Monday Night the Northfield City Council and Mayor recognized Ron Linde for his 2004 Human Rights Award. Ron was a long-time member of the Northfield Human Rights Commission and was instrumental in the development of of the hate crimes response team.

The award and recognition is well deserved.


Sunday, April 03, 2005

1 Year Ago Today

A year ago today, I pulled into the parking lot of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia to begin my 3 month training with the FBI National Academy. The year 2004 will go down in my book as a year that was fast-moving and full of new experiences and challenges.

2005 shapes up to be a challenging year for policing in Minnesota. Continued cuts in funding of various programs at both the federal and state levels threaten to pull back many of the successes of the 1990's. The increasing rise of the manufacture and use of meth and other drugs continues to tax our resources both at the policing level but also the court, corrections and prosecution levels. Recent concerns of violent acts by released sex offenders also challenges our ability to keep our communities safe.

We are challenged with the reality of reduced funding and a growing population that expects metro-level police services. In addition to police services in Northfield, we also manage our emergency management (storm watch, homeland security), animal control and many administrative services for the city. The last increase of staffing for the police department took place in 2000. With a population growth of 700 to 1000 people per year, now is the time to begin the process of developing a strategic plan to allow your police department to keep pace with the growing needs of the community. The delay of the investment of equipment and training for police staff over the past several years will begin to erode in our continued ability to provide the quality level of service residents expect.

I will continue to share our plan with our city administration to help us keep the necessary staffing levels and equipment necessary to provide quality public safety services to the Northfield Community.

Funding cutbacks have prevented us from holding a citizen's police academy the past several years. Through donations and assistance, it is our intent to hold one this spring. If you are interested in learning more about what we do, I encourage you to contact us to have your name placed on a waiting list for the academy. You can call our office at 507-645-4477. We give priority to Northfield residents but do open seats to area residents as space allows. If you are interested in helping us defray the costs of the academy, I would welcome a call from you as well.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Learning Klingon

Well, it's arrived. For you Trekkies, you will appreciate there is now an official Klingon language page to learn the language.

It's good to see that a Klingon Language Institute has been established.

tlhIngan maH!

Roughly Translated (We are Klingon!)