21 years ago I became a police officer and it is a decision I have never regretted. Becoming a police officer at age 20 made me grow up fast and realize the impact a police officer can have on families and a community. I will never forget a call to a home where a 17 year old son was out of control. When I arrived the son was in his room and his parent’s had flush faces and the dad was visibly shaking. They were obviously very upset and at their wits end; they looked to me for advice. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m 20 years old, what do I know about raising a troubled 17 year old?” I realized it is much easier to look at situations an unattached, third party perspective. I provided legal and practical guidance to the parents and spoke at length with the son. To my surprise they embraced much of what I told them. They were so appreciative they sent a letter to my police chief at the time. I saw them about six months later at a local restaurant and they made a point of thanking me again. It was situations like this that I fulfilled a desire I had; that is to help and make things better. For me, helping and making things better would become my mission in serving our community. I had learned police officers count; they can have an impact and can make a difference.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I learned about a bullying case today involving 6th and 7th graders using a social media tool called Instagram. I thought Instagram was a photo sharing site, but realize now it is more than that. I read the comments the kids were writing in this case and was appalled. Parents, be aware of this photo sharing/social media tool kids are using. I understand it is difficult to keep up with it all, but this is what many kids are using. Monitor what your kids are saying and doing on their phones, tablets and computers. Here is a link with good info on Instagram for parents.
Monday, November 11, 2013
I recently read a study completed by the Rand Center for Quality Policing. The study discusses the economic value of police in a community. In terms of budgeting, police traditionally are looked at as an expense. Studies and accomplishments in recent years show police are more of an investment than a budget item. We are seeing more cost benefit analysis’s completed across the country that clearly shows there is tremendous value in having additional police officers work in problem areas. The Rand study places specific cost to crimes. It looks at the “social and personal” costs to crime and attaches dollar figures to specific crimes. When officers are deployed properly and crime and disorder is successfully addressed through proper policing strategies property values improve, business climates improve and the overall perception of crime and disorder improves. The bottom line is that police officers count.....
Here is the link to the Rand information:
Here is the link to the Rand information:
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Social media has changed the way we police forever. While I was attending school in the 1980's, information moved at a snail's pace compared to what happens in schools today. When I was a school resource officer in the 90's information was moving a little faster with pagers and cell phones, but very few students had them. Today, most kids have cell phones and receive information instantly through texts, email, Facebook, twitter and other sites. When fellow students are not getting along today, everyone knows. Rumors (true or false) are spread to hundreds of people in the press of a button. Within minutes, thousands of people can know about a major incident. I hear stories weekly about a Facebook postings by kids that would never be allowed by a responsible parent. Many kids are posting their bad behavior on YouTube that no doubt would make their families ashamed. Parents need to be involved in their kid's Facebook pages, smart phone, and computer activity. Your involvement might keep them out of trouble and could save their life. SafetyWeb.com or SocialShield.com are worth checking out for any parent with a teenage child.
People can post anything on social media sites regardless of facts. I have seen a few stories now posted by folks who should be embarrassed about their behavior, but instead choose to blame others and tweak stories as so they don't look as they were the ones who did something wrong. Don't like someone? More and more folks are choosing to blast others via YouTube and Facebook.A year or two ago we added a policy for police staff related to the use of social media on and off duty. Why you may ask? Well, we have seen officers across the country get in trouble for comments on social networking sites. Some are related to sensitive investigations, some have posted work related photos, and others have posted things that severely discredit them and their agencies. Our staff work very hard every day to serve and build relationships with members of our community and those efforts can quickly be washed away by an officer who uses poor judgment in a comment on Facebook or some other site.
The evolution of social media is not all bad. We have found it is a great way to expand community policing efforts by informing and interacting with the public. We almost have 10,000 followers on the Duluth Police Facebook page (in the top 10 nation wide for followers in departments 100-250 officers). We post most press releases as well as engage the public in other ways on our policing and crime prevention efforts. Folks ask questions, compliment, complain and comment on our efforts. It has been a great way to engage people we would not normally have contact with.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
We continue to see a decrease in the amount of college parties. If there has ever been an example of how collaboration can work - this is it. Working closely with our partners at UMD and our City Council we built ordinances and changed student conduct rules to address the issues associated with loud parties and underage consumption. Back in the 1990’s and to the mid 2000’s officers would literally go from one loud college party to another. Back then, some 911 calls for loud parties would entirely unanswered due to the volume. Today, our party calls are about one fifth of what they were just 10 years ago.
The success is due to UMD’s commitment and good ordinances passed by our City Council as well as our dedicated police officers.....
Friday, October 18, 2013
There are few crimes against property that generate the anger, frustration and fear that graffiti vandalism does. Both the victims and their neighbors are outraged at the violation of property and by the image of vandals and gangs roaming the neighborhood. Duluth has been somewhat immune from a trend that has troubled so many cities nationwide, however from time to time we notice an increase in graffiti. Like many of our crimes, the increase is often perpetrated by one or two individuals.
Often citizens don’t realize the amount of time police spend investigating non-glamorous crimes such as graffiti. Our officers arrest individuals for this crime frequently. Some time ago department staff conducted a quick review of a few juveniles charged and sentenced for vandalizing property with graffiti. A juvenile who we determined was a major graffiti vandal was caught after painting up a Piedmont area. He received six months of probation after defacing a felony amount of public property (to the cost of thousands of dollars) and ordered to pay restitution. Another was apprehended after spray painting downtown; he received a sentence of probation until he is 18 and ordered to pay restitution. A third graffiti vandal was caught a second time only two weeks after being in court for doing the same thing. What is the answer to deal with the issue? Well, in an effort to improve deal with repeat property crime offenders we have been working closely with probation and others in the criminal justice system to find grants to expand gps monitoring of non-violent offenders. GPS needs to be expanded in the use of offender monitoring; we will continue to collaborate with our partners to find funding for this important criminal justice tool.
We continue to investigate and apprehend those responsible for graffiti vandalism. The vandals have cost private and public property owners tens of thousands of dollars. Our officers investigating these cases are photographing and documenting the damage done. When we apprehend vandals we aggressively seek full prosecution and strong sentences for each and every act. In addition we encourage victims and neighborhood groups to become involved in the legal process to ensure their voices are heard and the vandals are held fully accountable for the damage they have done. Involvement in the process beyond arrests has worked very well in Lincoln Park where a dedicated group of citizens works tirelessly to ensure those causing problems are held accountable.
When graffiti occurs on your property you are required by City ordinance to remove it in a reasonable time frame. This ordinance is designed to help keep our neighborhoods free from blight. You can also help by calling 911 immediately when you see suspicious activity or reporting those responsible for vandalism to us.
Friday, October 11, 2013
This year’s recognition falls on the heels of last year where we won the top IACP community policing award and honorable mention for our work with crime victims. I could not be more proud of the men and women of this department. To be recognized two years in a row is unheard of and speaks volumes about the caliber of our staff and the innovative work they are doing. I see their good work every day and am proud to see them recognized for their efforts.