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Friday, August 31, 2012

Auto Thefts

We have noted a slight increase in auto thefts as of late.  While auto thefts are still down substantially from 10 years ago.  A few of the stolen cars in the last couple of weeks have been unlocked and had a spare key under a floor matt.  It appears we have a thief who knows this hiding place.  You can greatly improve your chances of having your car stolen by not having a spare key accessable.

Have a safe Labor Day weekend and practice crime prevention before you become a victim.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Marijuana and IQ

A recent study linking reduced IQ and marijuana use popped into the news yesterday and I am a bit surprised by the play it has received.  When I was a kid it was accepted MJ impacted your ability to think and had a negative impact on your cognitive abilities.  When I was in high school we often jokingly imitated MJ smokers because they were slow to catch on. 
 Kids that smoked it didn't participate in academics or extra curricular activities.  With the magical work of the medical marijuana supporters the fact you ruin your brain seems to have been forgotten.  Here's article from the Arizona Daily Star.

  • Study: Marijuana use as teen can affect adult IQ

  • Intelligence score averages 8 pts. lower in testing at age 38


    2012-08-28T00:00:00Z 2012-08-27T21:46:21Z Study: Marijuana use as teen can affect adult IQBloomberg News Bloomberg News Arizona Daily Star

    Teens may lose IQ points later in life if they smoke marijuana before age 18, according to a study that comes on the heels of a survey showing that the drug's use has risen in this age group for four straight years.
    The research, reported Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found an average decline of eight points on IQ, or intelligence quotient, tests done at ages 13 and 38 among those who began using marijuana as a teenager. That compared with no decrease in those who used pot later in life, and a slight increase in those who never used it.
    Because marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the U.S., looking into how it changes the brain is important, said study author Madeline Meier, a post-doctoral researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, who led the study. Daily use among high school seniors is at a 30-year peak, according to a 2011 survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Bethesda, Md.
    "What this says is, not don't ever do it, but if you do it during this critical period of development, you'll get these long-term negative changes," said Staci Gruber, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., who wasn't involved in the study. "In almost every case, the subjects who started as adults don't have declines. Those who started as teenagers do."
    Tests for IQ measure a person's capacity to learn, apply knowledge and use abstract reasoning. The average score is 100.
    Although a drop of eight points may not seem like much, going from a score of 100 to 92 drops someone from being in the 50th percentile in intelligence to the 29th, Duke's Meier said.
    The 2011 report by the institute on drug abuse found that about 6 percent of 12th graders smoked pot 20 or more times in the 30 days before the survey; 46 percent of high school seniors had tried it at least once, according to the U.S. agency's annual Monitoring the Future survey of U.S. High Schools.
    Today's study used a cohort of more than 1,000 New Zealanders in the Dunedin Study, who have been followed since their births in 1972 through 1973. Previous work, including a 2010 finding by Harvard's Gruber that early marijuana use may change the brain structure, couldn't rule out other underlying factors that may have contributing to the brain changes.
    The Dunedin cohort may help settle those questions. The group got IQ tests at 13, before any of them began smoking weed. They were tested again at 38. Friend and family, who were routinely interviewed as part of the study, said these people had attention and memory problems.
    The decline in IQ couldn't be explained by alcohol or other drug use, or education gaps between those who smoked pot as adolescents and those who didn't, the study found. The greatest impairments were in processing speed and executive functioning, a name for the mental processes involved in planning, organizing, and detail work.

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    The Facts

    I wrote an editorial for today's Duluth News Tribune regarding a series of articles they printed regarding our release of information in the Kerry Gauthier case. 

    Here is my editorial:

    The recent case involving state Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, brought attention to the public release of criminal investigation data. When we at the Duluth Police Department investigate a sex crime, we treat the case as not public during the investigation. Information intentionally or accidentally released to the public at that point could negatively damage the investigation in a variety of ways, as well as impact witness, victim and suspect statements. The data of an active criminal investigation are deemed, according to data privacy law, as private and not public.

    When our investigation into the Gauthier case was complete, it became public, and records associated with the case were released. We consulted with legal counsel throughout this case, as we knew our actions would be highly scrutinized.   Attorneys consulted at the time of a News Tribune request for information explicitly told us Gauthier’s name and investigative data were not to be considered public at that point.

    An issue that became the focus of News Tribune reports was a feature with our records system that can limit access to a case being treated as non-public, allowing access only to those investigating or supervising the case. This is done in police-record systems to ensure data we consider non-public does not get released until absolutely appropriate.In some criminal cases, if non-public data is released, it could cause irreparable damage to the case.  Another example of where this feature was used involved a recently solved St. Louis County homicide case, in which witness safety was of great concern. The witnesses were scared for their lives. If their names were released they faced the potential for serious harm.  Keep in mind our records system users are from agencies from Pine County to Ely. There probably are close to 1,000 users. A case is team-protected only during the time the case is deemed non-public. When the case reaches the threshold of being public, the case is viewable by everyone. The issue brought forth by the News Tribune had absolutely no bearing on the release of the case information.

    We did a thorough job of investigating the Gauthier incident and provided the case information as soon as the investigation was completed, which was three weeks after the Minnesota State Patrol asked us to investigate.

    The Duluth Police Department takes great pride in the support and respect we have in our community. This is not a given, but has been earned through our commitment to service and transparency. News Tribune writer Brandon Stahl reported the incident in a manner that put into question our organizational integrity. Mischaracterizations and the absence of crucial facts were major errors in Stahl’s reporting. Articles may have misled readers into believing there was an attempt to cover up this incident. That could not be further from the truth.

    The coverage suggested we didn’t release public information because of Rep. Gauthier’s position. Our decision was based on the determination made by our legal counsel that Gauthier’s name and case data not be treated as public at that point during the investigation.  We would welcome any unbiased review of the facts of this case, and we know it would lead to no other conclusion than we acted with absolute integrity and within the guidelines of the law.

    Saturday, August 18, 2012

    College Neighborhoods

    With the increase in growth of our local colleges and university we saw major demographic changes in many of our neighborhoods begining in the 1990s. We also saw an increase in our calls for service related to parties and property blight.  About five years ago Patrol Deputy Chief Tusken and East Area Commander Eric Rish and other staff began working closely with UMD and neighborhood groups in an effort to reduce the calls and improve the quality of life for all. 

    We began providing names of UMD students to UMD who were cited for underage drinking and partying.  With City Council leadership we created a very stringent social host ordinance that has a very expensive fine.  We built new technology to allow landlords to receive quick email notification when we police responded to their properties.  We changed our enforcement tactics and ensure tickets are issued when we receive party complaints.  We track problem addresses and assign officers to ensure call reduction.  We work closely with our neighborhood groups to ensure we sustain efforts, communicate effectively and strengthen our relationships.   Due to these efforts our party calls in the university neighborhoods are less than half of what they were just five years ago.  That is success we are proud of!

    Join us as Campus Neighbors hosts a neighborhood meeting with police staff.

    Where: Grant Rec Community Center - 901 E. 11th St. (parking may be
    distant due to field use)
    When: Tuesday, August 21, 7pm
    Who: East Hillside Community Officer Matt Nevanen DPD (area to 21st Ave E)
    Community Officer Russ Bradley (east of 21st)
    UMD Police Captain Scott Drewlo
    Topic: When do I call 911?
    Move in weekend - what can I expect?
    And more.......

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    Struggles of MInnesota's Data Privacy Law

    Whew....I have been stuck in the depths of Minnesota Data Privacy Law for the last week over the Kerry Gauthier incident. Most reporters understand the rules.  Minnesota's Data Privacy Law is extensive and open to a lot of interpretation.  When we have incidents such as the Gauthier incident, we rely on our legal advisers to tell us what we can and cannot release.  Some reporters rely on anonymous sources and go on the record with it.  One local reporter did and wrongly reported Gauthier was arrested on this incident.  That is a problem.  What is the public to believe?

    The Duluth Police Department works closer with the media than we ever have.  Four years ago we created a public information officer to work with the media and answer their questions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  We send out more media releases on incidents than we ever have.  When a reporter calls we bend over backward to get them information, however we have to follow the law.  

    Saturday, August 4, 2012

    Night Shift

    Last night we were a little short due to a few guys off on military leave (these dedicated guys not only serve their city, but also their country).  I had talked to the night watch commander the night before and mentioned I wanted to help out, as long as I could work district 26.  26 is the patrol district that covers Canal Park, Downtown and the Central Hillside.  It is by far the busiest police district in the City and where I spent most of my time as an officer and sergeant.

    Working in 26 with me last night was a couple of bike officers and one other patrol squad.  The night started off fairly slow.  I was able to make a few traffic stops and connect with a couple of old friends in the neighborhood that I had not seen in a while.  One traffic stop I made involved a guy who didn't move when the light turned green on north bound Lake Avenue over I-35.  After a few seconds I noticed his head pop up as though he was texting and then he moved forward.  He was caught by the red light again at Lake and Superior Street where I pulled along side of him.  His head had dropped again and I could see him looking at the glow of his phone.  I got out of the fully marked black and white and walked the 7 or so feet to his car.  He was so engrossed in looking at his phone he didn't even notice me standing in full uniform looking at him through the passenger window.  The way he was holding the smart phone I could clearly see what he was looking at.  To my amazement he was looking at porn while he was driving!  I knocked on the window and he fumbled with his phone and put the window down.  I told him when the light turned green to pull across the street and over to the curb, which he did.

    Once stopped across the street and out of traffic I approached him and told him I saw him looking at porn on the phone.  To my surprise he denied it.  He looked and acted embarrassed.  I thought he was likely married or at least in a relationship, so I reassured him I would not be calling his wife or anything - to which I saw relief in his face and he kind of nodded his head in a manner of "okay you caught me."  I told him I was going to cite him for the violation.

    I reviewed the statute for the violation with my sharp partner, Officer Dan Rendulich, who had just stopped by to offer any assistance.  It was clear-looking at porn on your phone while driving is illegal.  Here is the law. 

    I wrote the ticket out for the violation and returned to the driver.  I explained the ticket to him to which I found he had a pleasant demeanor. When we were done talking he said, "that's a good law" and extended his hand to shake.  I shook his hand and away he went, hopefully no longer driving and looking at porn.....or his phone.

    Other highlights from the night included;

    A very intoxicated 33 year old from Brainerd who could not quite find his hotel room at a Canal Park hotel and decided to pass out in the middle of the hallway at the hotel.

    Took a nice guy to jail who can't stay away from his girl friend's residence where he was trespassed from due to many police calls. He readily admitted his wrong doing and took ownership which was rather refreshing.  We were called to the apartment because of the reason he was trespassed in the first place-disturbing the other tenants.

    A call to a party where things got out of hand.

    Couple of fights.

    Rolling into bed at 6 this morning I again drifted off thinking what a great group of quality officers we have at DPD (and how much I miss working directly with them)....

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    What are we doing?

    What is the police department doing to reduce property crime?  Well, let's start with the fact that most of our property crimes are committed by habitual offenders.  Every week command staff review intelligence, trends, locations, suspect information and other variables during our COMPSTAT meetings.  Staff is deployed to problem areas and suspect information and other pertinent information is shared.  A lot of resources are put into investigating and solving property crimes.  As I mentioned in my last post prevention is our best solution, but when crime happens we want to catch the folks responsible. 

    We catch a lot of these property crime crooks and many fail to appear for court or don't follow their conditions of probation.  In an effort to have a greater impact on property crime offenders, we recently started working with local media by identifying wanted property crime offenders weekly.  So far we have been very successful in arresting those identified.  Additionally, we have received tremendous feedback from the community on this new effort.  Our Property Crimes Unit has some of our best cops that put tremendous effort into catching crooks.  Thanks Sergeant Stolee and crew!  Keep up the good work.

    Here is this weeks property crimes wanted person of the week

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Prevention is the best medicine

    We continue to see property crime as our largest problem in Duluth.  Our violent crime rates continue to be below the national average.  We  review the overnight calls everyday and many are nuisance thefts, etc.  Here are two that sum up the usual. Notice they are all preventable....

    Several vehicle prowls in Parkwood neighborhood overnight. Unk susp(s)
    going into unlocked vehicles parked in driveways. Two backpacks
    recovered (one owner ID'd and other still outstanding). Laptop, Ipad
    and misc tools were taken. One backpack dumped in the street and
    another left in a yard. Both were all wet so prowls would have
    occurred before (or during) the short rain storm at approx 0300-0330.

    XXXXX  XXXX called to say his company
    vehicles have been hit consistently over the last week with the gas
    being syphoned from the tanks. The shop is located on the NE corner of
    X St. and X Av. W. He is working on getting locking gas caps and cam's, but would appreciate any extra patrol. He said it appears to be
    happening nightly at an unknown time. If you see anything he can be
    reached at xxx-xxxx