A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Officer Memorial

Police Officer Rob Targosz, 37, of the Gilbert, Arizona Police Department died on April 30th from injuries received the previous day when his motorcycle was struck by a drunk driver.

Officer Targosz had served his department for 12 years and is survived by his wife.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Flashback to Florida

I got home from the Chief's Conference Thursday evening and looked across the street and this is what I saw.

I thought our neighbors may have had spring lawn design fatigue until I saw this sign.

I was informed by my wife, Ruth, that the church uses the ploy as a fundraiser. Apparently you can by "Flamingo Insurance" to prevent the infestation, or you can send this "gift" to another person. A novel approach.

Like I said, for a minute I thought I was back in Florida!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Chiefs' Conference

I've been attending the Minnesota State Chiefs' Conference the past several days. Today, I started this day with a meeting with representatives of the group Fight Crime: Invest In Kids. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is an organization comprised of over 2,500 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, and other law enforcement leaders, and violence survivors preventing crime and violence.

(L-R), Alexa Petersen , myself and Amy Dawson. Both Ms. Petersen and Ms. Dawson are with Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. They met with a number of law enforcement executives to discuss relevant issues and challenges. They also attended the conference and met with attendees through a display.

Alexa Peterson with Fight Crime: Invest in Kids

The morning work sessions involved a presentation by Ivan Brown, Superintendent, Jamaica Constabulary Force. The topic was community based policing from a Caribbean perspective.

The noon working lunch included a number of speakers, including Governor Tim Pawlenty. In addition to a brief overview of legislative issues, Governor Pawlenty took questions from the audience.

The business meeting concluded with the election of new officers for the upcoming year.

The afternoon afforded the opportunity to spend some time with others examining new technologies and resources for law enforcement agencies through the exposition. Minnesota hosts one of the largest state expositions. It's a great opportunity to view new equipment, training information and trends.

Some of Monday's topics of study included:
Good Cops - The Case for Preventative Policing
Changing the Culture of Police Departments
Creating a Learning and Thinking Organization
Intelligence-Based Policing
The Minnesota Joint Analysis Center

The conference runs through Thursday morning. Other topic for the rest of the conference include:

Fitness in Law Enforcement
CIBRS - (computer data)
Current Issues In Public Safety
Private and Public Partnerships
Human Resources Issues
Technology At Work: Best Practices
Challenging the Organizational Culture
It's a busy conference, packed with lots of information but worth the investment in time. In addition, it's an opportunity to network with other law enforcement administrators, elected officials, and those who associate themselves with the Criminal Justice System. Minnesota is fortunate that the communication channels are well established and that good working relationships result.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Officer Memorials

Corporal Scott Severns, 36, of the South Bend, Indiana Police Department died on April 23rd from gunshots he received two days earlier while attempting to take police action during a robbery while he was off duty.

Corporal Severns had served his department for 8 years. He is survived by his parents and a sister.

Trooper Craig J. Todeschini, 25, of the New York State Police was killed in an automobile accident on April 23, 2006.

Trooper Todeschini had served his department for 3 years and six months. He is survived by his expectant wife.

Police Officer Jeremy Chambers, 27, of the Cahokia, Illinois Police Department died as a result of an automobile crash on April 24th while involved in a vehicle pursuit. Officer Chambers' vehicle was struck head-on by a drunk driver.

Officer Chambers had served his department for two years and five months. He is survived by his father and his brother.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Wedding

We just returned from Nebraska where we attended my wife's brother's wedding. Here is one of the pictures of Stuart & Tracey Votaw. Congratulations on their wedding. The wedding was held at the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in North Platte, Nebraska. We had a chance to visit with friends and family members on a really great spring Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Severe Weather Season Is Here

Severe Weather Awareness Week is this week (April 17-21). The Northfield News was kind enough to publish a short piece in tomorrow's (Wednesday) paper.

Here is a list of the topics highlighted by each day. So far this week, we've had the wind, hail, and lightning. We don't need the tornados and can well do without the severe heat issues. The following information was provided by Northfield Emergency Management Director, Tim Isom.

Monday - Lightning Awareness:
Eighty five percent of lightning victims are children and young men ages 10-35 engaged in recreation or work. Twenty percent of strike victims die and 70% of survivors suffer serious long-term after effects.

To avoid being struck by lightning, you should seek shelter when you hear even the faintest thunder. Some of the best places to take refuge are enclosed buildings, or cars and buses (but don't touch the metal). In case there are no safe spaces nearby, bend into a crouching position
until there is a break in the storm. Isolated trees, telephone booths, and open structures like gazebos or porches make poor lightning shelters. If there is a tall object nearby, move as far away as possible - at least 2 meters (7 ft). Standing next to tall isolated objects like poles or towers makes you vulnerable to secondary discharges coming off those objects.

Lightning Safety

If you can see it, flee it; If you can hear it, clear it.

The 30/30 Rule says to shut down when lightning is six miles away. Use a "flash to bang" (lightning to thunder) count of five seconds equals one mile (10 = 2 miles; 20 = 4 miles; 30 = 6 miles). It's usually safe after no thunder and no lightning have been observed for thirty minutes, everyone has to make their own decisions.

Tuesday - Severe Weather Warning Systems:

Outdoor warning systems - sirens are designed to warn people of a potential safety hazard while they are outside, away from a radio or television. They are not designed to be heard in every building in town.

There are 9 sirens located throughout the city. There is a ten year growth plan that anticipates the addition of sirens as the community grows. Because of security concerns, we won't go into the specifics of location or technical operations here.

In the event of a tornado warning, the sirens in Northfield will activate and will continue to activate every 15 minutes during the warning, until the warning expires.

Weather radios with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) that can be programmed to warn you specifically of the your warning area in which you live (Rice or Dakota County in the Northfield area). With homes built as tightly as they are today with air-conditioning, you probably won't hear an outdoor warning siren. Just like you should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, each home should also have a weather radio.

Wednesday - Heat Waves:

Heat kills by taxing the human body beyond its abilities. In a normal year...about 175 Americans succumb to the demands of summer heat.

Heat Survival Tips

Slow down.

Reduce strenuous activities by eliminating the activity or reschedule to a cooler time of the day.

Dress for summer in light weight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps your body maintain a normal temperature.

Watch what you eat: foods such as proteins increase metabolic heat production and result in increased water loss.

Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic fluids. Drink fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. However, those who suffer from epilepsy, heart, kidney or liver disease or on a fluid restrictive diets or have a problem with fluid retention should consult their physician before increasing their consumption of fluids. Avoid alcoholic beverages.

Spend more time in air-conditioned places. Spending time in an air-conditioned environment during hot weather affords some protection.

Be careful not to get too much sun. Sunburn makes the body's job of dissipating heat more difficult.

The statewide tornado drill is held on Thursday. The National Weather Service will simulate a tornado watch beginning at 9 a.m. Two tornado drills are planned. The first will take place statewide at 1:45 p.m.; all jurisdictions will activate their warning systems. This first drill
allows schools, businesses, and hospitals to practice their sheltering plans.

Northfield will participate in a second drill, at 6:55 p.m. The evening drill will allow families and second-shift workers an opportunity to practice their sheltering plans.

Friday - Flash Flood

On a national level, floods claim nearly 200 lives annually...force 300,000 persons from their homes...and result in property damage in excess of 2 billion dollars. Characteristically, 75 percent of flash flood deaths occur at night with half of the victims dying in their automobiles or other vehicles. It may be difficult to believe...but many deaths occur when persons knowingly drive around road barricades indicating the road is washed out ahead.

Last year, one of the heaviest rainfalls in Minnesota history occurred in south central and southeast portions of the state on September 14th and 15th. Several counties picked up over ten inches of rain, and there were some reports of thirteen inches. Flooding was widespread around Fairmont, Blue Earth, Owatonna, Albert Lea, and into southeast Minnesota. There was one fatality in Austin.

Are you prepared?
Assume a thunderstorm produces 6 inches of rain in less than 6 hours time near your community. Storms of this magnitude or greater occur several times each year in the U.S.
Would you know what action to take to protect yourself and the people who depend on you for safety? After a major flood event one of the most common quotes from the survivors of
the flood is the expression they did not believe it could happen to them or in their community.

Before the flooding?
There is nothing anyone can do to prevent the occurrence of flash flood producing rainfall. However; by striving for sound flood plain zoning, developing an emergency action plan in advance of the disaster, purchasing flood insurance at least 30 days before the flooding and
being aware of the dangers associated with extremely heavy rainfall and flooding, there is a chance of decreasing the death toll and property damage that results from flash flooding.

You can learn more about these topics and others by going to the following location:


Get information about how to prepare a disaster kit, make an emergency plan, and staying informed at http://www.ready.gov/

Finally, if you are involved in an organized outdoor activity such as soccer, baseball, or other community events, take a SKYWARN class to better understand the severe weather warning signs. Bring a weather radio with you and know your emergency responses. Most of all...plan ahead. If severe weather is forcast, reschedule your activity. A "normal" thunderstorm like we experienced tonight produced dangerous lightning and hail. Common sense and good planning is your best protection.

If you would like a presentation for your neighborhood, business or organization; or you would like to attend a SKYWARN (weather spotter) course, please call the Northfield Safety Center at 507-645-4477 or email our emergency management director, Tim Isom.

Monday, April 17, 2006

No Excuse for Abuse

Over the past several weeks, I've noticed a disturbing trend again. From national news as well as local discussions I've heard statements: though well intended; used to justify actions between individuals that qualifies for an abuse situation.

In one case, an assault was qualified because the person was not hospitalized, nor was, in the writer's opinion, the person responsible for the assault arrested or charged.

There have been recent discussions as to the legitimacy of a victim's statement in connection with a sexual assault: by the defense counsel of the persons accused of the sexual assault in this case that was quickly picked up by the Media and spread out as though fact.

I just wanted to remind readers that there is no excuse to justify the verbal or physical assault of another. Bullies and name callers fall into the same category. They place people in fear and at times, damage the victim's sense of confidence and security.

I sincerely hope that in Northfield, we will not qualify an assault as being ok because the victim didn't need medical attention or the suspect has not been arrested or charged.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline, provides a 24 hour, 7 day a week contact point for those who have been victimized. Read their statement: they believe that every family should be able to live in a world free from violence.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Officer Memorial

Reserve Officer Matthew Tuttle, 28, of the Chelsea, Michigan Police Department was killed in a helicopter accident on April13th.

Officer Tuttle also served as a Captain with the Chelsea Area Fire Authority. He is survived by his wife.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Officer Memorials

Detective James Zadroga, 34, of the New York City Police Department died on April 6th from duty related illness he contracted on September 11, 2001.

Detective Zadroga served his department for 11 years. He is survived by his 4-year-old daughter.

Chief Scott Sumner
of the Chelsea, Michigan Police Department died on April 13th in a helicopter crass while providing aerial support for officers involved in a foot pursuit.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Telecommunicator's Week

This week recognizes those who work at our communications centers. Many folks know them as "dispatchers" but they do much more. It's a hard job with a high burn-out rate. Those who stay with it are truly dedicated individuals.

They usually are the first link between those in need and rescue personnel.

I appreciate the efforts of our communications operators at the Pearl Street Dispatch Center.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


It would be an understatement to say the past couple weeks have been anything other than routine. Among other events, this week revealed the culmination of a county-wide effort to prevent a potentially tragic situation. There were a number of other events here in Northfield that placed an emotional strain on our staff as well...so it was with some anticipation that I looked forward to ending this day by taking my turn scooping ice cream at the Summer Opportunities Fair at the Northfield Middle School. For the past few days, I've been reading in another web venue about the concern with rude kids and lack of respect. It was gratifying as I scooped ice cream for mostly middle schoolers and younger kids to hear their "thank you" and "please" phrases. The after school activities are a great asset for kids.

I left the Middle School to head to the Northfield Human Rights Commission meeting. The commission is made up of really dedicated volunteers who work to address the concerns of the community and promote education and tolerance. It's always a pleasure to assist the commissioners as a staff liaison.

After leaving the meeting, I stopped by a local restaurant for a late dinner. I sat in a corner booth and just took in the atmosphere. In the background was the sound of dishes being stacked in the kitchen, silverware clanking against plates and a low murmur of multiple conversations throughout the room woven together by the sound of "Miracles" by Jefferson Starship over the sound system. In an adjacent booth were four teens who were planning a church lock-in. In the booth next to them were two generations of a family sitting and talking about the events of the day.

I made it home in time to talk to my kids before they turned in to learn a bit more about what they did today. I checked some email and found myself here. As I put the words in this blog, I'm reminded that the very normal things in which I participated tonight are what those in law enforcement work so hard to preserve. A lot of cops from many state, federal and local agencies put their own safety on the line this week. Judges and prosecutors faced a very real threat for simply doing their jobs.

The activities I enjoyed tonight that helped me "back to center" are a result of the efforts of those dedicated women and men who keep our community safe.

Baby Shower Gone Bad

That's what the CNN teaser read. Read the story, you will shake your head. Ultimately, a disagreement over giving a five-year-old a beer wound up with someone getting shot. This incident took place in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Obviously there was enough bad judgment to go all around. A guy shooting a gun in the air to break up a fight that resulted in a pregnant woman being beaten with a stick and another man shot in the stomach.

This is an example of the types of situations police officers often encounter when called to a disturbance. It's an unpredictable world and I'm glad there are men and women who are still willing to go out there and deal with these kinds of situations.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Officer Memorial

Police Officer Jesse V. Embrey III, of the St. James, Missouri Police Department was killed in an automobile accident on Saturday, January 15th.

Officer Embrey III had served his agency for 5 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.