A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Friday, December 30, 2005

Meth - Continued

In a previous posting, I spoke about the changing face of meth production.

A recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article reports that a 14-year-old Fond du Lac, Wisconsin student stole medication from her younger siblings to sell at her high school. The drug Adderall is used to treat ADD (attention deficient disorder) in kids. We know that drugs like Adderall are now also being used to make meth. Parents and care providers should be vigilant about the security of these drugs. Schools and day care facilities should keep these medications locked and closely monitored. Parents should make sure that kids don't have access to the medication.

This trend is not new. I recall reported incidents 10 years ago where men deliberately dated and moved in with women with children who were taking ADD medication to steal it. There have also been cases where parents got prescriptions for their kids to have access to the prescription medication to manufacture meth or sell the drug.

Our investigators rely on professionals in the health care and school systems to alert us to any potential abuse of the prescription drugs used.

If you have concerns about potential abuse of prescription medications, you can contact Sergeant Roger Schroeder at 507-663-9322. Sergeant Schroeder supervises our drug task force. If you would be interested in an educational presentation to your group or employees about this or other topics, you can call Sergeant Schroeder or Officer Jody Spinner at 507-645-4477.

Violence - Update

In a previous post, I referenced an incident that took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where a group of teens pulled a man from his car and beat him because he honked the horn on his vehicle to try to move them out of the street. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported today that three juveniles are now being held in connection with this incident. The ages of the juveniles: one 14 year-old and two 16 year-olds. The news item contains a graphic description of the manner in which the teens assaulted the victim, Samuel McClain, 50. It would be interesting to read the background history on these juveniles to learn what intervention strategies had previously been employed.

The article also reports the juveniles appear to be connected to a gang.

Reason For Not Firing A Gun In The Air

When you hear news reports of people firing guns in the air in celebration, one generally conjures up a vision more common to Baghdad than Minnesota, but you would be wrong. Recent news items report a soldier, Private Danny Carpio, 23, on leave from the Army was arrested after he fired a gun in the air. The result of his actions: a 28 year old woman, who would have celebrated her 29th birthday on Saturday, was killed. Apparently the woman was leaning over a balcony above the location of the weapon discharge. News reports indicate the incident took place in Queens, New York. Reports state the soldier fired the gun several times. The soldier sits in jail facing charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. The reports also indicate that Carpio had been consuming alcoholic beverages.

Believe it or not, this is not an isolated incident, especially on New Year's Eve. "What goes up, must come down" holds true with bullets too. The bullet velocity as it falls can be faster than the discharge rate and certainly deadly if it strikes someone on the ground. Ironically the person injured or killed is often the person who discharged the weapon. Depending on your local ordinances, if you want to make some noise, fire off some legal fireworks. If all else fails, go buy a portable air horn if you feel the need to make that kind of statement on the eve of a new year.

FYI discharging a firearm in the city limits of Northfield is illegal as well as unsafe.

Another gun story: a 53 year old Florida man wakes up to find he has a bullet in his head. He drives himself to work, leaves a note and drives to the hospital. When police call his 65 year old girlfriend, neighbors call police to report they hear a gunshot. When police arrive at her home, they find her dead with a single gunshot wound to her head. The article states the doctor said it was a bigger risk to remove the bullet from the man's brain that to leave it there....Amazing.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Violence

A recent news piece about a man in Milwaukee, WI who was beaten by a gang of males after he honked at them to get out of the way: a drive-by shooting in Toronto is blamed by officials there as the fault of the US allowing so many guns to roam around.

I think the two have something in common...mob mentality. Put a bunch of cowards together with low self-worth and it's a recipe for violence. As much as an alcoholic looks for an excuse to get drunk, these groups of mobsters look for a reason to strike out...guns or not. London had 'em in the 15th century, bands of youth who were homeless knocking down citizens taking their groceries, money and anything else of value.

We've just got sophisticated now and started calling them gangs in the late 1950's. Somehow the idea that the violence is spawned exclusively in the US is unfair I think. One need only watch the international news to see other incidents of bombings, factions fighting...on and on.

I don't have the cure.. I know escalated levels of violence won't help. I know pointing the finger at your neighbor won't help. Locking them up solves the problem for a while until they get out again, more violent than before and it certainly isn't going to help to deny the existence of the gangs.

It will take a tipping point of people getting involved in the social issues related to the causation factors. Not handouts mind you. Past studies show that the majority of kids in poorer neighborhoods succeed. Why? Because there was a support structure of family and neighbors to hold them accountable and to protect them and there was a desire on the part of the kid to succeed. He/she was driven to meet the expectations of the community.

We need this to happen on a broad scale in our communities. We can't and won't arrest our way out of this. The violence will stop when it is no longer tolerated in all the small ways as kids grow up. Bullying in school, in the home, and in the classrooms. Bullies are cowards at heart who surround themselves with guns, weapons and people to insulate them from their own cowardice.

The coward that shot the teenager in Toronto certainly was no hero. He was a cold blooded killer. It shouldn't be candy-coated it's just the way it is. We shouldn't justify the actions of these thugs by saying, "well, we only had XX murders this year compared to city 'c' who had XXX, so we must be better off.

Do not become complacent about the small quality of life issues. The resolution of these things helps mitigate the bigger things down the road. The police need to understand this, the schools need to understand this, parents, courts and communities need to understand this.

It means investing the capital: both financial and people to make the difference. Otherwise, we can continue to minimize our problems by blaming our neighbors, immigrants, or finding someone else who has a bigger problem than we do.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Meth Use - Update

I received this question yesterday:

"...So if the removal of precursors to make meth have been restricted or eliminated, why did you say drug-related criminal activity is up?..."

The question is a fair one. The removal of the precursors has limited the number of meth labs in our communities, it didn't stop those addicted to meth from getting it. Since they can't cook their own (a good thing for communities and small children) they have to buy it. In order to buy it, they have to have money. Since most meth users have a bit of a problem holding down a job, their next option is to steal. Eventually family members get fed up with their thievery and they start stealing from their neighbors: literally.

I've mentioned several times in the past several weeks about the increase in burglaries and attempted burglaries, especially to unlocked or open garages and vehicles. Easy pick'ins, as they say.

I recently did a Google search on unlocked vehicles and found a number of articles detailing how police in some areas are ticketing vehicle owners found leaving the motors running and/or keys in their cars unattended. Their goal: reduce by over 75% in some cases, stolen vehicles.

Not all thefts are related to meth use: but a good share of them are. Our investigators are telling me that most of the arrests they have conducted recently for bad checks, burglaries, car theft and other property crimes have been known meth users.

The drug investigators tell me that the majority of meth found in this area is brought north from Mexico, where it is made in very large quantities and then shipped to points north. Unfortunately for us, Interstate 35 is a main meth corridor: straight from the Texas-Mexico border all the way up to Duluth. Don't be misled. The majority of meth users in our area are not immigrants. They are locals.

As previously mentioned, our drug agents also tell me that the majority of those being arrested in our area are locals. People who have grown up around this area. A good number of these folks, according to investigators, were known as heavy alcohol and marijuana users before they "graduated" to meth and often cocaine.

How you can help!


Keep your residence and vehicles locked:
The afternoon and evening shift officers are still reporting unacceptable numbers of vehicles left unlocked, often with the keys in them, in parking lots and garage doors found open at 2 am or 4 am. Keep in mind that an attached garage is your first line of defense against a person breaking into your home. If you leave your garage door open or unlocked, you have provided a would-be burglar a golden opportunity to get inside and in some cases, shut your garage door and spend all the time he/she wants, breaking into your house and often loading your unlocked car (yep the one with the keys in it) to drive it away with your property.

Don't leave your car running unattended in your garage or in your drive. Don't leave it running, even for a minute, while you run inside a store to complete an errand.

Report suspicious activity:
If you see or hear something out of the ordinary, especially late at night or early in the morning, call us. If you feel it is an urgent matter; call 9-1-1. If you see people walking around your neighbor's home that don't belong, call 9-1-1. Good descriptions of people, vehicle descriptions and license numbers help but don't confront these folks. They could be dangerous.

Join a Neighborhood Watch:
Contact Officer Jody Spinner (507-645-4477) and start a Neighborhood Watch. We'll post your neighborhood and work with you and your neighbors on some common-sense approaches to keeping your home safe and secure while encouraging you to better communicate with your neighbors and the police. The police department will also assist you with a security check of your home if you like. There is no cost for this service.

How can you make a dent in the drug business? Lock your car and lock your home. Don't make it easy for the users to get their drug by using your property as means to get the money to buy it.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Officer Memorials

Police Officer Shawn Carson, 40, of the Jersey City, NJ Police Department died when his vehicle drove off the Hackensack River Bridge. Officer Carson and his partner, Officer Robert Nguygen, 30, were killed in the incident. They had been setting up flares to warn motorists of malfunctions in the bridge operation.

Officer Carson has served his department for 16 years. Officer Nguyen had served the department for 6 years.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Timelessness

The following article appeared in the Rooks County (Kansas) Record on December 19th 1922. It was sent to me by my Aunt Lorrie Archer. It is written by my Great Grandfather Joseph Hrabe, who immigrated to the U.S. to escape the turmoil of pre WWI Czechoslovakia or as it was known in his time when he was born as Mezoun, Bohemia.

"The Christmas Gift!
The most outstanding fact in the whole wide life of the Christmas world at this season is the touch of kindness which is in the air: It is at once genial and bearing: it is no soft sentimentality. It is compassionate; but it is large, clear-eyed sane: it is gentle as the breeze of summer, while invigorating as one of our own glorious winter days under the sky's of heavenly blue: it is a time of added tenderness: of deepened affection, of the old love, that lives again, fresh, and freshening, unchanged beneath; every changing sane; it is a time of reconciliation. We bury old harsh memories, we remember the friend of other days, as he was in other days, before the world hardhead had embittered him, before buckled his armor on.

Poor imagination plays us strange tricks at Christmas time. We see through the mist of vanished years not the set up, prosperous business man a little too keen the eyes and a little to hard about (the eyes); a trifle over anxious when it comes to a bargain; but the lithe attractive figure and ingenuous face of the man, who started out in life a quarter of a century ago: Instead of the successful woman of the world: a little affected now, a trifle blase, and it must be confessed with more than a suspicion of artificiality about her. We see as clearly today that exquisite fresh young face which once we love as when all the bells of heaven were ringing in her heart upon her wedding morning: who told us that the eye of flesh alone sees right: seeing is not believing: the real man, real woman, is the one looked at through smiles of love, and happy tears, is my heart that sees: and this is the Christmas gift!

With the best wishes to you dear editor, your dear familie, dear friends: dear children and to all people, Merry Christmas: Happy: healthy, prosperous new year 1923.

Yours Respectfully
Jos Hrabe, Sr."

As this year draws to a close I encourage you to let the magic of the season give you the same "clear eyed sanity" described by my great grandfather. May the joys of the season provide you happiness and joy.

Gary Smith

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Officer Memorial

Police Officer Kyle M. Kaszynski, 39, of the St. Paul, Minnesota Police Department was killed in an explosion in Iraq on December 22nd. Officer Kaszynski had taken a leave of absence to work for a private security contractor in Iraq. Thursday, a bomb detonated near his vehicle, instantly killing him and another passenger.

Officer Kaszynski is survived by his wife and a 2-year old daughter. Officer Kaszynski had been with the St. Paul Police Department since 1998.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Officer Memorial

Police Officer Ted Marvin Shinault, 53, of the U.S. Department of the Treasury- Mint Police, was killed in a motorcycle accident in Windsor, Colorado on September 20th.

Officer Shinault was a US Army veteran and had served his department for 5 years. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

Officer Erik Manny, 35, of the California Highway Patrol was killed in an automobile accident on Wednesday, December 21st.

Officer Manny had served his agency for 8 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Officer Memorial

School Safety Agent Vivian A. Samuels, 56, of the New York City Police Department died of an apparent heart attack after being assaulted at Middle School 390.

Agent Samuels had served her department for 24 years and is survived by two sons.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Officer Memorial

Lake Ranger Glen Collins, 72, of the Shawnee, Oklahoma Police Department died in an automobile accident on Tuesday, December 13th.

Ranger Collins served his department for over 37 years.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Officer Memorial

Corporal Joseph R. Pokorny, 45, of the Pennsylvania State Police was shot and killed while making a traffic stop on Monday, December 12th. Corporal Pokorny had served his agency for 22 years.

He is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Officer Memorial

Police Officer Daniel Enchautegui, 28, of the New York City Police Department was shot and killed on Saturday December 10th when he interrupted a burglary in progress.

Officer Enchautegui had served his department for 3 years.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Safety Expo



The NCRC was the site of the 1st Winter Safety Expo last night. Despite the cold a few people made their way through the displays. A few folks who were attending other activities at in the building also took time to walk through and register for some door prizes.

Northfield Hospital, The Sports Clinic, MnDot and Northfield Police representatives were available to answer questions and provide some very good information as well as some hot cider and cookies.

According to Officer Jody Spinner, of the Northfield Police Department, it's hoped that we will make the expo an annual event.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Officer Memorial

Deputy Sheriff Jason Oliff, 27, of the Brazoria County, Texas Sheriff's Department was struck and killed by a vehicle while placing flares at an intersection to direct traffic on December 5th. Deputy Oliff had served his department for 4 years. He is survived by his fiance.

Winter Safety Exhibition

The Northfield Police Department, with a number of partners is hosting a winter safety exhibition on December 7th at the Northfield Community Resource Center, 1651 Jefferson Parkway.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Officer Memorial

Officer Henry (Hank) Nava Jr., 39, of the Fort Worth, Texas Police Department died of a gunshot wound on December 1st while trying to arrest a parole violator.

Officer Nava served his agency for 14 years. He is survived by his wife, daughter and son.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Making The Extra Effort

Yesterday, I spoke about the St. Olaf Christmas Concert. It's a great event that brings many people into Northfield during the first week in December. The weather this year has cooperated in adding to the holiday spirit with snow and a chill in the air.

With those additions brings great challenge to the members of our police department. As with the many other events that take place in Northfield throughout the year, the men and women of our police department step up to the challenge to help make the visit to the events and to Northfield a pleasant one. The majority of our officers and staff are involved in the traffic control during the St. Olaf concert to assist in getting people to and from the event without incident. Our reserves and explorers also assist St. Olaf public safety officers on the campus to assist the pedestrian vehicular traffic through the campus. It would be almost impossible to meet the needs of events like this without out the volunteer hours our reserves and explorers contribute.

It's cold and snowy and I appreciate their efforts to help make the event enjoyable for those visiting the event.