A Discussion of Criminal Justice Issues and Other Things

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Officer Memorial

Corporal Eric E. Sutphin, 40, of the Montgomery County, VA Sheriff's Office was shot and killed on August 21st while assisting in a massive manhunt for an escaped prisoner who had shot and killed a security guard at a hospital the previous morning.

Corporal Sutphin had previously received the Commonwealth of Virginia's Medal of Valor. He had served his agency for 13 years. He is survived by his wife and twin daughters.

Lieutenant Gary E. Dudley
, 51, of the Indiana State Police was killed in a vehicle accident where he was struck and killed while participating in the Indiana Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors charity bike ride on August 22nd.

Lieutenant Dudley had served his agency for 26.5 years. He is survived by his wife, father, and brother.

Police Officer Dennis Shuck, 54, of the Cheyenne, Wyoming Police Department died on August 23rd as the result of a motorcycle accident that had taken place two days earlier.

Officer Shuck had served his department for 12 years. He survived by his son, daughter, and six grandchildren.

Detective Corporal Charles Smith
, 29, of the Beckley, West Virginia Police Department was shot and killed during an undercover drug operation on August 29th.

Detective Corporal Smith had served his department for 5 years and 6 months. He is survived by his wife and 2-year-old daughter.

Corporal Michael Douglas Young
, 47, of the Georgia State Patrol died August 29th of injuries sustained in a vehicle accident on August 19th.

Corporal Douglas served his department for 21 years. He is survived by his wife, two children and two grandchildren.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Use Caution When Hiring Repair Contractors

With the extensive damage experienced in Northfield today. I want to caution you that I've already received reports of contractors from other communities soliciting work from local residents.

1) If you haven't done so...contact your insurance agent if you have experienced any damage. Try to mitigate any damage that would prevent further damage, IE., put tarps over broken glass in your home or vehicle.

2) Don't commit to a contractor before you have talked to your insurance agent or adjuster.

3) Do not feel compelled to sign a waiver from an adjuster if you don't feel it accurately represents the cost of damage repair. Contact your local agent for additional assistance.

4) Do not sign any contract without checking references first. Your insurance agent and local chamber can help you with references or where to call to get references.

5) Most types of repair will require city permits and work to be completed by contractors who are either licensed or approved to work in the City of Northfield. If you have questions, you can call the Police Department (507-645-4477) for additional information. Be very wary of contractors or individuals wanting to do work who are not at least based in Minnesota.

Remember your local contractors and suppliers in our area are the folks that you know and will be there months after the work is completed. Give due consideration to who you will have your repair work completed by.

The state attorney general's web site has a number of consumer tips that also may be of use to you. You can find additional tips here.

Nasty Weather

Around 10:00 eastern time today, Captain Tim Halverson called me to let me know Northfield was in for some rough weather. A little while later, he called back to let me know just how rough it got. A sizable number of our vehicles lost all the glass due to some very large hail. You can go to Northfield.org to see some pictures.

I want to thank Captain Halverson and the day shift officers for hanging in there during the storm and subsequent later afternoon and evening storms as well. Our evidence tech, Jeff Ringlien and our community service officer Kris Wilson also stayed on to monitor the weather and keep our operations center going. Donah Broadhead helped out with the phone traffic during the evening weather.

In true Northfield spirit, local businesses responded to Captain Halverson's call for the need to get glass back into our squad cars so we could continue our public safety functions. Polzin Glass, Dokmo Ford and Valley Autohaus, despite their own damage issues, got our cars out and in service yet tonight.

Rice County Sheriff Richard Cook loaned us a couple vehicles until we got our cars back on the road. Chief Mike Lewis from Faribault, PD offered vehicles and staff as needed.

I appreciate the support of our officers and staff and colleague departments. I also appreciate our local businesses who helped us get back into business. I recently wrote an article for the Star Tribune South. Today just reinforced the great working relationships between our law enforcement partners and our local businesses. I've linked the officers and the organizations who helped us out today. I would encourage you to send them an email and thank them for their help and hard work today.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Officer Memorial

Sergeant Micah Burks, 57, of the Autauga County Alabama Sheriff's Department died on August 16th as a result of injuries he sustained in an automobile accident on August 12th.

Sergeant Burks had served his department for 15 years. He is survived by his son and daughter.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Old Battle Scars

I drove up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I had some free time and wanted to revisit the Gettysburg National Military Park and surrounding area. I'd been here before but this was the first time I traveled to this location by myself.

Despite the activity, it is a quiet place.

As I was viewing the different locations, a gentleman approached me asked me if I knew that nearly as many people died in 1863 at this location as did the entire Vietnam War. I wasn't aware of that, but given the historical accounts of some of the bloody battles of the war, it wouldn't be surprising.

The area looks much like any other rural area until you arrive and begin to see the various markers and monuments.

This war is known by different names depending on where you live and where you went to school. I've heard it called the War of Northern Aggression, Civil War, and the War Between The States. Having lived on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, I'll tell you there are still some pretty strong opinions of this conflict well past one hundred years after this battle.

Unfortunately, this is not the only place in Pennsylvania that marks the sacrifices of Americans in a conflict. A modern day memorial located just outside Shanksville, Pennslyvania, marks the location where Flight 93 crashed after the passengers struggled with hijackers for control of the plane to prevent it from crashing into a target believed to be either the White House or the Capitol Building.

Darryl Worley has recorded a song entitled "Shiloh." The lyrics contain the following phrase that best describes the anguish of both battles old and new in Pennsylvania and in other places; some nearby and others a world away:

"...It must have been like hell on earth
What happened here is more than we can grasp
Standin' in the presence of the past..."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

JonBenet Ramsey Murder Case

Most police investigators will tell you that when working homicide investigations, nothing is beyond belief. I noticed tonight that CNN posted a breaking news item that authorities in Bangkok, Thailand have arrested a suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation.

How the case led them to a suspect in Bangkok related to a homicide in Colorado, US is a unique turn of events. It will be interesting to hear more as this investigation unfolds.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Activity Reports

Here are the most recent activity reports.

August 14th

August 15th

A Goat..A Rope...and A Tree

I'm never surprised by some of the things police officers run into. I was speaking to a street officer from another jurisdiction the other day who was describing an incident where two neighbors were feuding over where grass clippings should go.

I remember as a kid, the big discussion at my church about whether coffee grinds should be dumped in the garbage or down the drain. The dispute ultimately lead to a number of people leaving the church.

I remember the call I received back in the early 1980's where a woman soaked her neighbor with her garden hose. Once the parties calmed down, I learned they had been feuding for 20 years over a cake recipe (a distant calling of grumpy old men). During the initial calming process I also got soaked. Threats of a more serious intervention on my behalf ultimately got both sides to agree to settle the longstanding issues with an apology and a return of the recipe.

As amusing as these may sound, sometimes trivial issues wind up hurting others both emotionally and physically.

The whole issue of behavior like the incidents described above reminds me of a goat that my mother used to have on her hobby farm. Mom would let him out of the pen occasionally, using a rope attached to a tree that would stretch about 50 feet and attach the rope to a collar she had obtained from farmer. One time I was visiting, I heard a bang outside. I looked out the window and the goat was sitting on the ground shaking his head. I watched him stand up pull the rope to its full length. He would then bray at the tree as though it was his captor. He then walked up to the tree and struck it with his horns. As I walked out to put the goat back in the pen, he got up and butted it again.

Obviously the goat was mad at the tree and obviously he should have figured out that hitting it with his head only caused him pain. This particular goat spent the rest of his time with Mom in the pen, where he would proceed to butt the fence and anything else that got in his way.

I guess that's were the phrase "getting someone's goat" came from.

Despite the best efforts of officers attempt to discuss, offer mediation services, or a common sense observation of the conflict doesn't always prevail. The officers often find their radio calling them back to the same disputes over and over: sort of like the goat butting the tree.

Apparently it's really true that you can't always see the forrest while you are butting the tree.

Seriously, officers share their concerns for the inability to bring individuals together to reach a solution over matters that are easily resolved on a regular basis. We are fortunate to have excellent mediation services available in Northfield. Many attorneys offer mediation as an option to their clients during disputes.

If you know of someone in a dispute or if you are engaged in this kind of thing, seriously consider using a mediator to resolve the conflict.

Ultimately, you are going to be better for it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Officer Memorial

Detective Kieran T. Shields, 32, of the Orange, New Jersey Police Department was shot and killed on August 7th while involved in a foot pursuit.

Detective Shields had served his agency for 5 years. He is survived by his wife and three children, the youngest of whom was only 4 months old.

Police Officer Joselito Barber, 26, of the Seattle, Washington Police Department was killed on August 13th when his squad was broadsided by a vehicle traveling at an estimated 80 mph.

Officer Barber had served his agency for 5 months.

Corporal Christopher Metternich, 31, of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Police Department was killed on August 14th when his motorcycle struck the side of a vehicle that made a left hand turn in front of him.

Corporal Metternich had served his agency for 7 years. He is survived by his wife, 6-month old daughter and 9-year old stepson.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Customer Service Defined

I've shared a few postings in the past of less-than-desirable experiences with vendors and companies with everything from my experiences with airlines and the no fly list to cell phone companies.

Yesterday, I had an inquiry with Tiger Technologies. I sent an email inquiry regarding a question. Within a few minutes I received a confirmation email and within ten minutes, I received a call from a customer service rep. That's right... LESS THAN TEN MINUTES!...

The issue was resolved shortly thereafter.

This company holds the server in which this blog resides. I've always received help as needed. These folks have a philosophy that all their customers area important. I've never had a bad experience over the 2 years I've been working with them. That's pretty impressive. More impressive is the fact that I've never experienced one minute of down time. That's really remarkable.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Daily Report

Here is the most recent daily report. I also received a good question.

"What the heck do all those abbreviations stand for???"

I'll go into more detail later but for now:

UTT - Uniform Traffic Ticket
UTL - Unable to Locate
GOA - Gone on Arival

Hope this will help for now! Click the Icon below for today's report.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Try Try Again

I was engaged in a conversation with a peer today that concerned the ability to continue with a not-so-popular initiative that is being introduced in her community located in another state. There was a high level of frustration of the resistance to the initiative and the potential for failure was very real.

After we finished the conversation. I glanced over at a document I have mounted on the wall of my office. It is a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt. I've listed it below:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
I've posted this quote here before and more than likely I'll post it again sometime. It bears repeating these days. Part of leadership is the willingness to risk-- to work toward change. It's not an excuse for reckless behavior but if those who came before us had taken the safe route, we'd probably be living in Europe because no one would have taken the risk to find out if the world was flat.

When it comes to policing in the US, we don't have the option of "sitting out the dance." Innovation and creativity comes with risk and often ridicule...somtimes hostility. Those leaders like Roosevelt understood the risk, ridicule and hostility was a price to be paid. To move forward to benefit our future generations requires a forward thinking vision like that shared by our founding fathers. It means shifting or changing the paradigm, challenging the status quo, asking questions and making changes; often dragging those digging in their heels screaming and yelling into the new millennium. The quality of life for future generations will be determined by how well we do our jobs and how well we look to the future.

Our communities should expect no less of us.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Daily Activity Report

For August 8th

Monday, August 07, 2006

Activity Report

Here is the activity report for August 3rd.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Officer Memorials

Officer David McGuinn, 42, of the Maryland State Division of Corrections was stabbed to death in the maximum security Maryland House of Correction in Jessup Maryland on July 25th.

Officer McGuinn had served his agency for 2 years. He is survived by a daughter and his fiancee.

Police Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco, 39, of the San Francisco , California Police Department was killed on July 26th when his vehicle was struck by a van being pursued by officers. The van had been involved in an earlier robber of an individual.

Officer Birco was a US Marine Corps veteran and had served his department for 5 years. He is survived by his parents, two sisters, brother-in-law, niece, and two nephews.

Deputy Sheriff Michael Callin
, 26, of the Orange County, Florida Sheriff's Office succumbed to injuries on August 2nd inflicted the previous day when he was intentionally struck by the driver of a vehicle while operating a RADAR unit. The driver who struck Deputy Callin had been cited 14 times in the previous two years for driving with a suspended license and was located and arrested the following morning.

Deputy Callin had served with the Orange County Sheriff's Office for 4 years. He is survived by his wife, parents, and sister. His father also serves with the Orange County Sheriff's Office and his sister was in the academy at the time of his death.

Police Officer Peter William Faatz, 29, of the Atlanta, Georgia Police Department succumbed to injuries on August 3rd he sustained when his patrol car collided with an ambulance as he was responding to a shooting call.

Officer Faatz had served his agency for 16 months.

Police Officer Scott Wertz, 40, of the Reading, Pennsylvania Police Department was shot and killed on August 6th after he and his partner responded to a fight at a local convenience store.

Officer Wertz had served his agency for 9 years. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

Officer Brent Clearman, 33, of the California Highway Patrol was struck and killed by a hit and run driver on August 6th.

Officer Clearman was a US Marine Corps veteran of the War on Terrorism, where he served as a sniper.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Musings of Summer

I was engaged in conversation today with another "prairie" person. Yep, those strange folks who actually enjoy the drive through Iowa and Nebraska on I-80, admiring the flat terrain: prairie to you hill-bound folk.

We got on the subject of summer activities and it reminded me of the summers I spent with my grandparents during the late August days of summer.

My mom had three sisters and one brother. My grandparents had downsized their farm, keeping about 15 acres for their use. Most every spring, we would go to Harvard, Nebraska and help with planting of corn, and various vegetables. In August, all of us would return to help can, freeze vegetables and dress chickens that we all took home to get through the winter.

In all, there were about 11 cousins as well as my mom's sisters and brother and their spouses. We would generally all spend about as much time talking and goofing off as we did work. As kids, it was the job of most of us to wreak havoc with several of the adults: my Uncles Max and Chuck mostly. They are still talking about the great bottle rocket chase in the outhouse and my Uncle Chuck but that's another story.....

One of my favorite things to do was to go out in the cornfields before the corn was picked and just sit in one of the rows and listen to the corn grow. For those of you who doubt this is possible, I can tell you that you can. Anybody worth their salt from Nebraska or Iowa will confirm this. You could listen to the wind rustle through the corn plants, look up at the blue sky and just drift off to some distant place. It didn't matter how hot it was, down toward the damp ground you would find a cool breeze.

I somehow managed never to get lost in there either...can't say the same for some of my other cousins. You can also ask my sister Sue why to this day, she isn't fond of chickens after she watched my grandmother wring a few necks...literally (chickens that is). We always tried very had not to anger Grandma after witnessing that.....(joking).

Anyway, thanks for indulging me in a bit of daydreaming. I feel bad that my kids won't get to experience those types of late summer adventures. The good part is that they can talk about the trips to the lake and a bit of late summer fishing. Maybe I'll read a blog someday by one of them feeling a bit nostalgic for those days as well.

Here's Your Birthday Present

Will Healy celebrated his 50th birthday this evening. Ruth and I were please to be invited to share in the festivities.

Will is the guy with the white shirt, the real low key guy in the center of the picture. When he's not busy tending his flock at Emmaus Church, he's busy out and about in the community. I struggled in what I could provide as a gift, since he's joined the rest of us in that "elite" club of those sages of wisdom over 50. I figured what better a gift than to share the magic of turning that half-century mark. So Will, here's your present from me.

You will find a much keener appreciation for the finer things in life.
-Finer hair that is.

You will appreciate the spicier things in life.
-So long as you bring along a bottle of antacid.

You gain a finer appreciation for faster cars.
-You just have more difficultly getting in and out of them.

When you tell people that not being able to remember someone's name is a sign of genius.
-They still don't believe you but they feel sorry for you and they agree anyway.

You develop a whole new vocabulary: instead of the Twins, Vikings and Wild.
-You discuss Bengay, Metamucil and Preparation H.

Not only are you allowed to talk to yourself,
- You are allowed to answer your own questions.

You find you get much better service at restaurants now.
-Not because you are any better looking, the wait staff just feels sorry for you.

And finally....

You can blame your extended sermons on the fact you can no longer see the clock in the back of the room.

Happy Birthday!

National Night Out 2006

Thanks to a lot of hard work on the part of members of the Northfield Police Department and many, many, many friends and volunteers, this year's National Night Out Event was a success. I've put a few pictures of some of the activities here. As soon as I figure out how to transfer the rest of the photos sent to me by better photographers than myself, I'll put together a scrapbook here for your review.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support the event. Thanks to the local businesses who supported our activities. Thanks to everyone in Northfield who takes an interest in the safety of our community and helps to keep us all safe and crime-free.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Issues In LA

I've been following the events happening in Los Angeles the past few months with respect to the LA Police Chief William Bratton wanting to change some hiring requirements for new LAPD Officers. The events have created a stir, it appears at City Hall in Los Angeles. Late last night, I came across an editorial piece by former LAPD Chief Daryl F. Gates in The Los Angeles Times.

It's interesting reading and does bring light to the fact that a police chief's job increasingly has become political in nature. Not just in LA but across the U.S. Time will determine if this is a good thing or not.

Telephone Scam

I receved this information and thought it might be of interest:

Telephone scam targets U.S. veterans

10:34 AM PDT on Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Associated Press

PORTLAND - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is warning all veterans of a telephone scam regarding the recent data loss by the VA.

Kevin Doyle, a VA Police Operations Team Leader, says the scam works like this. The caller talks the veterans into believing that they have a resource to assist them with the lost veteran data.

The veteran is talked into calling a 1-800 number. Once the veteran calls the 1-800 number, the veteran is directed to call a 1-900 number. That's when the vet incurs a $1.99 cent per-minute charge.

Any veterans who have fallen victim to this scam are urged to contact their local VA office, or their local police agency.

Doyle says it's unclear just how many veterans have been scammed.


Electronic Federal Tax Payment System Cited in New E-mail Scam

IR-2006-116, July 19, 2006

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers to be on the lookout for a new e-mail scam that uses the Treasury Department's Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) as a hook to lure individuals into disclosing their personal information.

The system, which is used by more than six million taxpayers, allows businesses and individuals to pay all their federal taxes online or by phone.

The new e-mail scam, fraught with grammatical errors and typos, looks like a page from IRS.gov and claims to be from the "IRS Antifraud Comission" (sic), a fictitious group. The e-mail claims someone has enrolled the taxpayer's credit card in EFTPS and has tried to pay taxes with it. The e-mail also says there have been fraud attempts involving the taxpayer's bank account. The e-mail claims money was lost and "remaining founds" (sic) are blocked. Recipients are asked to click on a link that will help them recover their funds, but the subsequent site asks for personal information that the thieves could use to steal the taxpayer’s identity.

“The IRS does not send out unsolicited e-mails asking for personal information,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “Don’t be taken in by these criminals.”

Additionally, the IRS never asks people for the PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for their credit card, bank or other financial accounts.