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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Synthetic Bill Passes in the House

The Minnesota House passed the synthetic bill 120-11 yesterday.  The Duluth delegation all voted yes.  I was surprised to hear Representative Melin voted was one of the 11 nays.  She represents many of the townships just outside of Duluth. 

I was not surprised that Representative Rukavina was one of the 11 nays.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Loud party, search warrant, tickets

Officers were sent to a loud house party in the 500 block of North 10th Avenue East shortly after midnight today.  Police had been there already twice this school year for other parties.  Tenants refused to open the door so, a search warrant was obtained based on evidence of underage drinking.  45 underage consumption tickets were written and four social host tickets for the renters.  We will be following up with the landlord on Monday as well.

We have had great success in party call reduction due to many factors.  A couple of them involved he social host ordinance (fine amount is $500) and   UMD accesses the names of students who were cited for underage and takes action.  There are a number of other action items that have helped reduce the number of loud parties by 30%-50% in various neighborhoods.

College parties are not what they used to be.....

Friday, March 23, 2012

Is this a great place or what?

I went to UMD this morning and sat on a thesis review panel to hear one of our officer's review their research and defend it.  It was fun to be back at UMD and experience the feel of the college atmosphere (and of course to here about the research and defense).  As I left UMD on this foggy day I followed a skinny red fox running alongside the road - past the library heading to St. Marie Street.  It was fun to follow it and watch it.  It seemed as oblivious to the foggy figures walking to and from class as the figures were to it.   Most of the students didn't even notice it running by and stopping on occasion to stick it's nose in the grass.  Pretty cool sight to see in the middle of a college campus with 16,000 people.

A short time later I was driving past Hartley Field when I saw a pine martin chase and catch a grey squirrel in a large maple tree.  The pine martin ran away with the squirrel in it's mouth quickly and it was gone before I realized what I had just witnessed.  A woman waiting at the bus stop across the street saw this sight as well and had a look on her face that was a mixture of confusion, excitement, and did I just see what I thought I saw?  I could not help but laugh hysterically at her expression.  I wanted to stop and talk to her about what a cool sight we had just seen. 

So what does this have to do with police and public safety issues?  Nothing.  It made me realize how much I like living here. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bad law, bad choice or both?

I had written recently about the proposed "shoot first" bill in the Minnesota legislature that was vetoed by Governor Dayton.  Police across Minnesota are glad he did.  While I have not studied the differences in Minnesota's bill with that of Florida's existing law, I've been following the shooting of the Florida teenager by a block watch person who claims he was scared for his safety and was justified to shoot under Florida's "stand your ground" law.  The police chief in the city where this occurred has temporarily stepped down and the law is being closely examined.  This is a tragic case that may have been caused by a bad law.  I am interested in your thoughts.  I am sure this case will be closely evaluated by legal scholars and I look forward to seeing what we can do to prevent cases like this in the future.

Here is a news article on the law
and here is a story on the case and chief stepping down

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Same story

Thanks to an alert citizen we were able to apprehend one of our prolific car prowlers.   He's under 18 years of age and a continual problem.  Talk about a candidate for electronic monitoring-obviously his parents are not taking an active role.  Here is the notification from the shift supervisor (edited for data privacy).

ICR: 12044904 Date: 03/17/12 Time: 0117
Location: 3820 London road (Chateau DE Ville apts)
Subject: auto burglary arrest, juvenile male  XXX  XXX  XXX
Witness sees someone breaking windows to cars in lot, s18 Hendrickson arrives and sees male in car, and takes him into cust. He has stolen items on him from some of the cars. 4 cars identified, 3 of the owners located.
XXXXX,(a longtime burglar and car prowler, and still a juvenile) to jail for GM damprp, MV tampering, poss stolen prop and alcohol consumption. We left a message with his probation officer Jackie Anderson. Lodged at AJC.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chief Mistake

I try to make a point everyday to read about what other chiefs are doing in their communities.  I have been following an incident in Berkley, CA where the police chief was addressing a neighborhood meeting regarding a murder that occurred which may have been the result of delayed police response.  After the meeting the chief was following the news coverage of the incident and had a concern with one that was posted on-line.  Berkley PD's public information officer then stopped by the house of the reporter - at 12:45 A.M. - to request a change to the story.

I can understand the frustration when reporters get a story wrong, especially a high profile homicide, but I couldn't imagine sending a police officer to the reporter's house to request a change to a story.  That said, being the chief is very demanding and there is very little room for errors, but errors happen.  I recently heard the chief of Omaha, NE compare it to playing basketball 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  It can get tiring and mistakes happen.  I hope the Berkley chief has built up enough good will to make it through this.  It seems as though this the first controversy he's been involved in since taking over a few years ago.  My thoughts are with him tonight.

Here is a link to the story

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Police Response to White Power Rally

Last weekend a white power group chose to have an event on the steps of City Hall.  Initially it appeared as though they were going to be ignored, which is exactly what the white power group did not want.  A number of forward thinking community organizations planned a positive community event in Canal Park during the same time as the white power event. 

As the week unfolded it became apparent there were certain individuals who wanted to confront the white power group-some from almost 200 miles away.  I received a call from an area activist who told me she wanted to bring her young children to the City Hall event.  I found that rather concerning for a number of obvious reasons. 

When Saturday rolled around we were pounded pretty good with lake effect snow that no doubt had an negative impact on the number of attendees for the City Hall event.  Our staff had been planning our response to the event all week.  There ended up being a sizable crowd of counter protesters at City Hall, while the number of white power folks numbered no more than 8. 

Police staff did a tremendous job.  Despite much tension, there were no injuries to anyone and police used little force in order to keep control.  People were able to say what they wanted to. Other than the four people arrested, everyone (police, protesters, and counter protesters)went home safely. That is the way it is suppose to work. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Deadly Force Bill Vetoed

Police across the state are grateful to Governor Dayton today for vetoing the bill that would allow people to shoot  to defend their property-lowering the standard from fear imminent great bodily harm.   I am not aware of any problems in the state with the current law, so I don't know why the need for the change.  When Sergeant Gary Wilson was shot and killed here in the 90's the shooter in that case claimed some of what this bill would have allowed.  This veto is will help keep our police officers safe.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed a bill that would have expanded the cases in which people could use deadly force to defend their dwellings.
The bill would have created the presumption that a person using deadly force believed that they were in danger of harm from any intruder in their home or dwelling. The bill would have expanded the definition of dwelling to include a hotel room, car, tent or boat.
Police and prosecutors had strongly opposed the measure, with police saying it could make it more dangerous for officers to enter homes.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Snow Tows

How things can change in a week.  Last Saturday my yard was still fairly free from snow.  Today we probably have over 20 inches on the ground.  Most of us love the snow but, along with that we have had to tow vehicles this week for not obeying the parking laws.  We are hearing many instances where plows (and some emergency vehicles) are not able to pass parked cars because of alternate side violations or cars parked too far into the street.   I've bumped into a few unhappy people who have had their cars towed.  While they were understandably frustrated, they understood the situation.  With another dumping of snow today streets are going to really narrow.  Please follow the parking laws so we can keep the streets passable for plows, emergency vehicles and commuter traffic.

The forecast is showing near 50 by Tuesday, so that should help our situation out as well. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Synthetic Drug Update

I was down at the Capitol today testifying before a committee on a bill that would expand and improve Minnesota's synthetic drug law (click here for the Fox 21 story).   There has been a fair amount of frustration with the current law as we work through the evolution of synthetic drugs.

We also need to improve the accuracy of statistics from the local hospital emergency rooms for visits related to synthetic drug use.  The information I am hearing from local ER employees and what is being reported to the State are drastically different.  Folks in the ER's locally estimate up to half dozen visits a day due to complications with synthetic drug use and the State is reporting about 16 ER visits for all of last year.  Symptoms include, rapid heart rate, seizures, extreme illness, paranoia, depression and others.

Representative Bob Barrett (R-Shafer) was the author of the bill, but it is strongly supported by one of our own, Representative Kerry Gauthier.  Thanks to legislators for their support.

I also caught this blog on the Star Tribune (click here) that reports U.S. Senator Rand Paul is opposing federal bills addressing synthetic drugs.  In one statement Paul says “… I am concerned about the cost to taxpayers presented by further criminalization. It has been estimated that single marijuana arrest costs taxpayers an average of over $10,000. With federal Bureau of Prisons facilities already operating well above capacity, I am concerned that adding new substances to the list of federally banned drugs will further exacerbate overcrowding problems in our federal  prisons."

First off, I have never seen federal prosecution of simple marijuana possession.  As a matter of fact, the feds won't touch cases unless there is substantial sales -  and I mean substantial.  We don't have any full time federal drug enforcement presence in our area, so when they do come it is not for small amounts.  A simple possession charge of marijuana in Minnesota is similar to a speeding ticket- you're not going to jail for it.  Heck, we can't get people we've caught time and time again to get any jail time (click here for this recent press release on a drug dealer who doesn't quit) for meth-never mind marijuana! So to say a single marijuana arrest costs tax payers $10,000 is simply bogus and misleading.  Shame on you Senator Paul and thank you Senator Klobuchar for working to keep these terrible substances out of our communities.