A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Friday, September 30, 2005

From the Chief's Conference Floor

Here's a quick posting before starting activities today. I've posted a photograph below I took a couple days ago of a newcomer to the law enforcement profession. Anybody recognize who this newcomer interested in the law enforcement profession is?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Internet Interruption

Sorry for the delay in posting. I'm attending the International Chief's Association meeting in Miami and as luck would have it, chose a hotel that doesn't have reliable Internet service. I'm looking for an Internet Cafe or port where I can upload some pictures and relay some of the training experiences.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Officer Memorial

Special Agent Stephen Eric Sullivan of the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service was killed in an explosion at a location overseas in Mosul, Iraq. Agent Sullivan, 40, was a Marine Corps veteran and had served with the Diplomatic Service for 3.5 years. He is survived by his son, brother and sister.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Officer Memorial

Sergeant Ruben Orozco, 51, of the El Paso, Texas County Sheriff's Department died in an automobile accident on September 17th. Sergeant Orozco had served his department for 26 years. He is survived by his wife, three children and three grandchildren.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

How We Do Business

About a month ago, I posted an entry that had to do with ten items of reinventing government.
For a review here they are again:

1. Government should steer more than row.
2. Government should empower citizens and communities instead of just serving them.
3. Government should encourage competition rather than monopoly.
4. Government should be mission-driven, not rule-driven.
5. Government should be results-oriented and focused on outcomes, not inputs.
6. Government should serve its customers, not its own bureaucracy.
7. Government should earn money as well as spend it.
8. Government should prevent as well as cure.
9. Government should decentralize and adopt more participative styles of management and leadership.
10. Government should leverage change through the marketplace, not just by creating public programs.
Authors-consultants David Osborne and Ted Gaebler proposed these principles as a model of doing business. I will be the first person to acknowledge that each is subject to interpretation without benefit of more content of their materials. As I mentioned in the previous posting, I wanted to revisit the principles in some detail to share my take on them.

Starting in no particular order, I'll tackle #8, "Government should prevent as well as cure." This principle applies well to policing. It complements Herman Goldstein's philosophy of problem oriented policing. Police need to be in the business of preventing every bit as enthusiastically as they are reactive. Unless we develop a means to stop crime or deal with quality of life issues, more and more of our time is consumed in responding to established problems, which means we have less and less time to anticipate new problems, let alone deal with them. I time, the law of diminishing returns applies and we find ourselves in the position of having to prioritize which crime or issue we will respond to and which crimes and activities we will ignore.

I've never been a big fan of reactive crime management. Many in the policing profession subscribe to it for (A) it's the only way they know how to manage; (B) it's more in line with their view of traditional policing; (C) it requires less innovation and creativity; (D) it fits with the traditional view of just throwing more money and people at an established problem also known as the "shotgun approach"; and (E) it's politically safe...(for a while until the community gets fed up with increasing crime problems and demands reform). A good number of larger cities, faced with budget issues are now dealing with the problems of increasing crime and fewer police officers to work on prevention methods.

Prevention and/or problem solving incorporates more traditional policing methods such as saturation patrol, arrests, education and quick response to problem areas. It also goes beyond the norm by involving other partners in the process. A good Northfield example would be the growing concern over loud parties and associated problems in residential neighborhoods. Any community with colleges or universities will experience this challenge.

I've recently reiterated my position of effective enforcement by our officers (that means writing more tickets than warnings and holding staff accountable for their actions in this area) as well as the improved communications between both colleges and their respective deans of students. We've also stepped up our communication with property managers and owners, holding them accountable for properly managing their properties. The final component will be to further engage the residents impacted by the changes in their neighborhoods as rental properties replace traditional home ownership. The combination of bringing together neighborhood residents, property owners, college representatives and new rental tenants can help to reduce the frustration and angst caused by 2am calls to the police of repeated problems with loud parties and increased traffic in otherwise quiet neighborhoods.

In order for this process to work; however, we will need the support from the community and elected officials is several ways: (A) communication with the chief's office as to how officers perform when called to neighborhoods because of noise complaints, both positive and not so positive; (B) working with our staff to establish lines of communication between all parties involved; (C) be supportive of elected officials as they assist in our efforts in communicating with residents; (D) encourage prosecutors and judges to hold those accountable who repeatedly violate ordinances with respect to noise and disorderly conduct and (E) be a cordial good neighbor to new residents.

In theory, if the components fit together, the need for continued reactive measures should subside. This allows us more time to attend to other issues and provides for a better quality of life for all our residents.

As a side note, I'd like to compliment the director of the Pearl Street Communications Center, Barb Brewington, for taking a giant step forward in helping us be more efficient. The Center handles all our emergency and non-business calls for police, fire, and ambulance in Northfield and surrounding areas. It is located in Owatonna.

Ms. Brewington has implemented a procedure that will require officers to provide their locations when called, allowing dispatchers and officers to make sure the closest unit responds to a call. Dispatchers will no longer use the approach of simply putting out a call to all the officers in a city. They will now assign each call. This prevents "bunching" of officers into one area, leaving other areas of the community unprotected and lends itself to an overall efficiency in managing police services. This process eliminates the "shotgun" approach I described previously in this posting. The new procedure is now in place in Rice and Steele Counties and all communities within those borders.

I appreciate Ms. Brewington's leadership on this subject. I am also proud to tell you that Northfield was the first community to implement procedure because our officers were already following these protocols. This speaks well of our officers and supervisors.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Officer Memorial

Sergeant Denny Galloway, 34, of the San Jacinto County, Texas Constable's Office drowned on September 15th. Sergeant Galloway was attempting to rescue a man from the Trinity River who was trying to rescue a woman and child from the river. Sergeant Galloway had served with is agency for 11 years. He is survived by his wife.

Friday, September 16, 2005


I was pleased to attend the awards ceremony of the Minnesota Medical Association in Minneapolis on last Thursday. Sergeant Roger Schroeder was presented with the Stop The Violence Award. Sergeant Schroeder was recognized for his efforts in prevention, education and the aggresive investigation and prosecution of those who would victimize those who are vulnerable. Here's a photo of the presentation of the award. Sergeant Schroeder is on the right.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Officer Memorial

Police Officer Tara Drummond of the Kennesaw, Georgia Police Department was killed by accidental gunfire during a firearms training session on September 13th. Officer Drummond had been with the Kennesaw Police Department for four months.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Officer Memorial

Trooper Mark W. Carthron, 31, of the Arkansas State Police died on September 12th as a result of a vehicle pursuit. Trooper Carthron was struck by a vehicle while retrieving stop sticks he had deployed during a vehicle pursuit. The suspects in the fleeing vehicle were wanted for an armed robbery and were driving a stolen car. Trooper Carthron is survived by his wife, parents and a brother.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Walk In Their Shoes First

There has been a lot of criticism thrown at New Orleans police officers lately. Yesterday I had a person on the street come up to me and ask me if it was true that police in Huston, Texas found a New Orleans police squad in their city and upon stopping it determined it was an officer who had fled and was absent without leave. I don't know if this is true or not. But I have received many accounts over the past week of the terrible conditions New Orleans officers are forced to deal with.
This article from the Washington Post probably does the best job I've found of describing the impossible conditions they face. Take the time to read it and consider giving these men and women a break. Sounds to me like they are true heroes.

Maybe some of those with enough time to point fingers should put their hands to better use by digging into their wallets and helping out those who no longer have clothing or a place to live.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

In Remembrance

September 11, 2001

We will not forget you

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Officer Memorial

Police Officer Shawn Silvera of the Lino Lakes, Minnesota Police Department was killed on September 6th after being struck by a vehicle being pursued by police. Officer Silvera was deploying Stop Sticks, a device to deflate the tires of a fleeing vehicle to stop a pursuit.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune carried this article
. Officer Silvera had served his department for 7 years. He was 32 years old and is survived by his wife and two children.

It's never easy to post officer memorials...it's even harder when it's close to home. My thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Silvera's family, and his coworkers.

Being a cop these days is getting to be more and more of a challenge as our society generates people who increasingly are hostile toward all members of society, including police officers. I appreciate the dedication of the men and women who to out in our communities every single day to keep us safe.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Long Journey

I've put over 4,000 miles our vehicle over the past couple weeks. Traveling twice to Arkansas to deliver and pick up my son for a visit with my parents and a quick trip to Nebraska to take care of some family business.

One of the places to stop by while in Nebraska was Edgar, Nebraska. Edgar is where my father graduated from high school in 1952 and where he grew up. It is also where he is buried. The timing of the trip and his death in September of 1970, brought back memories, some good, some very painful. I checked on the gravesites of my dad, his parents and grandparents: spent a bit of time there at the cemetery and then left to visit some family members who live in the area. During the conversation with them, one of my relatives mentioned how it was good I could "get back to visit my dad" once in a while.

On the drive back to the motel, that statement stayed fresh in my mind. I thought about what my relative had said. The place my dad is buried is a place for those who must hold on to something tangible. For me, a plot in a cemetery isn't so much a resting place as it is a symbol of a new beginning. I don't need to visit a gravesite to be near him. I hear dad's whisper in the breeze blowing in my face. I feel his touch in the warmth in the sun on my skin. He lives in the passion I have for living, the push in my step, and the joy of life I see in my son's face. Despite the fact that it was 35 years ago this month he died at the age of 38, I think of him often. The pain of his loss has not diminished. It just becomes easier to manage. Fifteen year-olds should not have to lose a parent that way. I can tell you the time, what I heard and what I smelled and what I tasted as my brother, sister and I watched our mom struggle to tell us what happened as we stood in the back yard of our home. We had the benefit of the security of a home and support of our family to get through the initial shock and grieving process.

Today, I watched news reports about the tens of thousands of displaced people moving across the United States, in search of a place to live after having survived a hurricane called Katrina. I wonder many kids are wondering where their parents are tonight.

Consider helping out. Donate your time, talents or resources to make sure we provide for those who have lost everything. Tangible things are ok but what really counts is knowing there is someone out there who cares.

Oh, and if you have kids, give 'em an extra hug and tell them you love them.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Officer Memorial

Police Officer Ramon Rios of the Douglas, Arizona Police Department died of a heart attack on September 4th. Rios was a 16 year veteran of the Douglas Police Department. Officer Rios had been involved in a struggle with three juvenile suspects to investigate a report that a person's vehicle had been damaged by the three juveniles.