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Friday, December 6, 2013

Police Officers Count

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

What Kids Are Using to Bully Today - Instagram

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

Police Count

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:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Social Media and Policing

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. or 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

Party Time?

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

The Duluth police tradition of being leaders in policing continues this year; I am proud to report our officers are again being recognized at the national level for their work. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has recognized Duluth P.D. for our work with nuisance offenders and blight. This collaborative project between the City of Duluth’s Police Department and Attorney’s Office works to address the “quality of life” blight & nuisance crimes plaguing two Duluth police patrol zones. The project assigned a full time police officer to deal with law enforcement and a full time City Attorney to coordinate judicial issues to address chronic blight and nuisance crime offenders. The Blight and Nuisance Crime Project succeeded in improving the sharing of information about chronic offenders between prosecutors, judges and the police thereby improving the criminal justice system. The officer and attorney involved collaborates with other community groups to help designate and locate resources for indigent and chronic perpetrators of nuisance crimes allowing them access to resources that could help initiate reparations of their past. Our staff is closely involved in helping homeless find housing and resources to improve their situation.

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.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Crime Prevention: Burglary

Crime has gotten a lot of attention this summer and it has people talking. We’ve had a few burglars go on heroin-crazed crime sprees, hitting a few neighborhoods recently where burglaries are rare. Fortunately, thanks to alert neighbors, talented cops and crime scene officers, we’ve managed to get a few locked up. Locking up a few criminals in Duluth can have a dramatic impact on our crime numbers because they are low to begin with. I’ve seen one active burglar singlehandedly double our burglary rate. While our burglaries are still below last year, I anticipate we will see a further drop
now that we have a couple of habitual offenders locked up.

We have been walloped with thefts from cars the last couple of months. There is no doubt that being a victim of this crime impacts your perception of crime and safety, but we can have a tremendous impact on theft from cars. Two weeks ago I read through the reports on thefts from cars and saw a handgun along with other valuables had been taken from a car parked near a trailhead. These are the goods that keep thieves coming back for more. Trailhead parking lots are one of the top targets for car prowlers because people often leave valuables in their cars while they use the trail.

Our goal is to prevent crime before it happens, so the best thing you can do is remove all items of value from your car and call 911 right away when you see suspicious behavior. Burglary prevention is also something you should remember. Here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming a burglary victim:

• The overwhelming majority of our burglaries happens during daylight hours. Very few occur at night.

• Don’t let mail and newspapers pile up at your door or mailbox. Don’t leave garbage cans at the street. Ask a trusted neighbor to pick these items up and keep an eye on your house.

• If you’re going on winter vacation, have fresh snow shoveled and make it look like someone is living there.

• Know your neighbors, their cars, and who is coming and going.

• Call 911 if you suspect anything suspicious. I had a citizen notify me she had a suspicious woman at her door selling items. The citizen Facebooked me a day or two later and the woman at her door just may have been a burglar (with her boyfriend waiting around the corner). Trust your instinct: our best cops trust their sixth sense and they are usually right. Don’t wait to call 911 if something does not seem right.

• Keep bushes and shrubs trimmed back from doors and windows.

• Some sliding doors can be opened easily from the outside by an experienced burglar.

 • Consider a security system or cameras. There are inexpensive systems that are monitored by a company or will call your cell phone when there is movement in your house. With some systems you can see video or hear audio.

• Have good lighting around your home, including motion lights.

• If you have been the victim of a burglary, your chances of being burglarized again greatly increase.

• Engrave valuable items with your driver’s license number. This helps police locate you if the items are recovered.

• Try to trick the burglars: leave a radio or TV on and have lights on a timer when you leave. Make your house looked occupied.

• Use good deadbolt locks on your doors. Consider reinforcing doors and windows in areas that are hidden out of view.

• Consider starting or joining a citizen patrol or block club.

 Call my office at 730-5020 if you’d like further information. Keep in mind that while it may seem that there is more crime in general than in the past, in many cases that simply is not the case. The number of burglaries we have now is almost half of what we had in the 1970s —how’s that for a perception buster? Please keep these suggestions in mind and help us meet our primary goal to prevent the crime from happening in the first place.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bike Patrol

What have our bike cops done so far this summer? Written 208 citations, made 25 felony arrests, arrested another 50 for misdemeanors, had 5,321 contacts helping people out, made 33 traffic stops, and have put 1,983 miles on our bikes. Good work by these folks!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Car Break-Ins

In an effort to keep folks informed on the car break-in pattern, here are the times and areas of the break-ins. Keep your eyes open and help us catch these mopes who are taking advantage of our good citizens....You could be next. Remove valuables from your car and call 911 for anything suspicious. 14 VProwls on 7/21-7/22 (Sun-Mon) 2300 – 0600 Glen Place Apartments 16 Vprowls on 7/25-7/26 (Thur...s-Fri) 2330-0600 Canal Park Area 18 Vprowls on 7/28 (Sunday) 0130-0220 Denfeld Area 11 Vprowls on 7/30 (Tuesday) 0330-0630 Keene Creek Area 21 Vprowls on 8/3 (Saturday) 0350-0402 Central Hillside 11 Vprowls on 8/5 (Monday) 0100-0200 Denfeld Area 7 Vprowls on 8/5 (Monday) 0430-0440 Downtown Parking Ramps Stolen items from the cars include purse, laptop,ipod, cell phone, GPS, wallet, prescription pain meds,lottery tickets, etc....

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

License Plate Readers

During this year’s legislative session concerns about automated license plate readers (ALPR) surfaced. Duluth PD has utilized this technology for several years and currently has two ALPRs that are attached to marked squad cars. They read thousands of plates an hour and notify the officer of stolen vehicles, registered vehicle owners who have warrants, vehicles with excessive outstanding parking tickets as well as when the owner has a suspended or revoked driver’s license. Additionally, we can enter and search for license plates where someone’s life is being threatened. We have found this technology is a force multiplier, as we do more with less. Officers looking manually with their own eyes are not nearly as effective as an ALPR. An ALPR can also provide critical data for criminal investigations. For example, several years ago we were investigating a kidnapping that occurred in a western area of the city. Two days after the offense we entered the suspect’s license plate into the ALPR database and discovered he had driven past an ALPR-equipped squad car on Grand Avenue. The time, date, and GPS coordinates were documented in the database. This information corroborated the victim’s report and provided critical data to help solidify the case. There are cases throughout the country where lives have been saved, highlighting the critical role ALPR can play in critical investigations. To date the Supreme Court has not applied the Fourth Amendment to police surveillance in public, even if it is augmented by technology. So, you may ask what, is there a problem with this technology? Well, there are a few issues we are trying to work through as technology continues to evolve in policing. First, there were issues with ALPR data and its privacy, specifically who can access it and when. That has been resolved and the data is now considered private. The ACLU recently brought up concerns about the retention of ALPR data. Duluth PD policy calls for ALPR data to be deleted after 30 days; after that, it is erased and can no longer be recovered. But 30-day retention is rare and most departments in the U.S. and Canada retain the data for six months to several years. The issue of data-retention was an issue at the Capitol this year. A few legislators are concerned about the potential for abuse of the ALPR data. We retain all ALPR data access and conduct a periodic review to ensure it is being used for appropriate police investigations. To me, this is like any other resource for police: The rules for accessing the data must be crystal clear and there must be tracking for who accessed the data, why and when. We must balance the use of technology through thoughtful policies. To limit the use of technology such as ALPR gives the bad guys another step up on those of us who are working hard to keep our communities safe.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Problem Property

I stopped by a police call just east of Lake Ave on 5th Street this morning around 740. It was the second or third fight/disturbance call at that address in the last 12 hours. We've been to the building several times in June- prior to these latest events. I wanted to call the landlord and let them know about the events in the last 12 hours and ask what help they may need, however I did not see... a contact name and number posted near the entrance as required by ordinance. I looked around the exterior of the property and noticed junk and garbage strewn about. Since this building is blighted and an obvious problem, the landlord will be receiving a citation for not posting landlord contact info as required by City ordinance. Additionally, they will receive another visit from the Building Safety, receive notification they will be charged police costs for certain future police calls and will lose their rental license if things continue. The cops did a great job and brought one person to jail and took other action to help the landlord if he wants to do something.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Half time results

Summer has gotten off to a quick start and it has been too long since I have written and provided an update.  I receive daily reports on crime trends and activity.  Here are some numbers for you that are to date for each year...."Mixed bag" is how I would describe things half way through the year. 

                              2011          2012          2013
Assaults                   251           243             200

Burglary                   278            309             195

Person w/weapon      17               24               29

Robbery                     32               33               22

Shooting                       1                 4                5

Stabbing                        8                12               7

Vehicle Prowl               432             362            426

Vehicle Theft                 82                72              66

Monday, May 13, 2013

Meeting with other chiefs

A few weeks ago I traveled to Washington D.C. to partake in the mid year conference for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Mid-Size Agencies Section, which I Chair.  Bill Bratton was the keynote speaker and it was an honor to meet and talk with him.  Here is a cut and paste from the IACP blog.

The IACP Midsize Agencies Section Leans Forward: Building a Blueprint for a New Era of Policing

Gordon Ramsay, Duluth (MN) Police Department, Chair, IACP Midsize Agencies Section
The IACP Midsize Agencies Section recently wrapped up another successful midyear meeting.  This past week 43 police executives and city managers from 23 states convened in Alexandria, Virginia, to discuss our successes and challenges within the theme Sustaining and Advancing Community Policing in the New Economy.
Bill Bratton
Meeting highlights included Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West’s announcement of the COPS Office FY 2013 Community Policing Development grant program and a fantastic keynote address from renowned police chief, Bill Bratton.
Despite these distinguished guest speakers, the focus of the event was on us – the participating chiefs and our experiences.  Our charge for the day was to construct a transferable framework (a blueprint) that facilitates and advances thoughtful innovation in policing.  A tall order, but we were up to the challenge.  The format of the meeting was an interactive, facilitated discussion where participants talked through three broad topic areas:
• Economical approaches to management, staffing, and service delivery
• Data and technology as force multipliers
• The evolving definition and application of modern community policing
There was no shortage of lively discourse.  Participating chiefs offered successful examples and case studies, admitted challenges, as well as thought-provoking considerations for the future.  Key themes emerged proving midsize agencies are leaning forward in many ways.  We are:
• Innovating out of necessity,
• Embracing emerging and evolving practices, and
• Maximizing internal and external resources, from data and staffing to partnerships and consolidations.
Next steps are to synthesize the results of the discussion into an ongoing and evolving resource that will benefit not just the Section and midsize agencies but the broader police profession.  Look for more to come from the Midsize Agencies Section in this area.
Generous support from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and additional corporate sponsorship from CARFAX’s Police Crash Assistance and Motorola’s Real Time Crime Center helped make this midyear forum a reality. We are grateful for their assistance.
Midsize Meeting
The next meeting of the IACP Midsize Agencies Section will be at the IACP Annual Conference in Philadelphia, tentatively scheduled for Monday, October 21, 1pm to 4pm.
To get involved with the Midsize Agencies Section, visit the IACP website for more information or email me at

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Post 9-11 Information Sharing? Not always in Minnesota

I quickly read through a news article today describing the testimony by Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis today about the bombing suspects before a House committee on homeland security.  The Commissioner mentioned concerns about information sharing among law enforcement agencies.  In Minnesota, the Chiefs of Police Association, police leaders and a few other organizations have been pushing for a change in Minnesota law that is hamstringing our ability to receive important information on criminal activity. 

You will likely be surprised to know Minnesota law enforcement agencies are not receiving information from other states and federal entities because of Minnesota (law) Chapter 13, that makes criminal investigative data shared by agencies outside of Minnesota public data if it is not tied to an active criminal investigation in Minnesota.  Without the ability to apply reasonable protections to this data from other states we are isolating Minnesota law enforcement agencies from important information tied to multi-jurisdictional criminal activity.

The general public believes law enforcement is sharing information more than ever in a post 9-11 era.  Given Minnesota law, it still is not happening here....We need to get this law changed to prevent further tragedies.  Your police leaders will continue to push for reasonable law changes - even though we have not been successful at our Capitol to date.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Crime and Perception

As we move to the halfway point of 2013 I wanted to reflect on how the Duluth Police Department is doing with our number one goal; crime prevention.  In 2012 Duluth saw a 14% decrease in our part one crimes from 2011.  Part one crimes are serious felonies that include homicides, rapes, serious assaults, car thefts, robbery, arson and burglary.  Less serious crimes (part two crimes) statistics
declined 16.9% in 2012 compared with 2011.  The reality in Duluth is that our crime numbers are not high and it does not take a lot to swing them one up or down.  Over the years I have seen a busy crook send our crime numbers soaring.   When that crook is locked up we see numbers decline.  Ideally, we want to see a sustained decreased in a crime year after year.   So far 2013 is seeing a continued overall decline.  We continue to monitor crime trends on a daily basis and deploy resources accordingly.
So considering the crime decreases we have seen, what is the overall feel with crime in Duluth?  Since a person’s perception is their reality, I take the perception of crime in Duluth as seriously as the actual statistics.  I look to the annual Citizen’s Survey that Mayor Ness began having administered about four years ago.  In 2012 the survey numbers showed that about 93% of Duluthian’s felt safe in their neighborhoods during the day.  That number has remained relatively steady over the last few years.   The number of people who felt they are safe from violent crime has risen from just 58% in 2010 to 72% in 2012.  These numbers tell me that people are feeling safer overall in Duluth.  The reality is, we simply see very, very few incidents of people being assaulted by people they do not know.  Additionally, the overwhelming majority of our robberies are over drugs and drug debt.  We continue to see a major decline in the number of commercial robberies.
So, you may ask, what is the major area of focus in regard to the perception of crime and disorder?  We need to change the perception of safety downtown.  We have more officers on foot and bike downtown today than in the last 30 plus years.  The citizen survey results for 2012 indicate 75% of the people feel safe downtown during the day.  More concerning is that only 24% feel safe downtown after dark.  That number is something we have been trying to turn around for the last several years.  We saw improvements from 2010-2011 however, in 2012 we saw a decrease in the perception of safety after dark.  I believe the sale of synthetic drug issue has really hurt the perception of downtown and anticipate we will see our survey numbers for this year reflect that.  While the perception may be that people feel unsafe downtown after dark, the reality is that there is not much violent crime downtown at all and what little there is, it is almost always committed by people who know the victim with a drug or alcohol connection.  The perception of crime downtown does not match with the reported crime statistics.  Downtown is safe and we continue to make it a priority to collaborate with our partners to improve the perception.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Seattle Interim Police Chief in the News

The interim Seattle Police Chief is in the news and it appears another controversy maybe brewing. I read in the following:

"The Seattle Police Department will hold a media briefing Thursday evening to comment on a video that shows newly-named Interim Chief Jim Pugel "poking fun at the homeless," according to a spokesperson.

The video was produced in 1986 and is set to a tune called "Under the Viaduct," a parody of the song "Under the Boardwalk."

Detective Renee Witt said the department released the video in the interest of "full transparency."
Lyrics in the video include, "Under the viaduct, we'll be drinking our booze. Under the viaduct, our sores continue to ooze."  A disclaimer added to the video released Thursday says:  The following video was produced in 1986. The skit was created in a misguided attempt at humor and added to the end of a training video. Upon viewing it, commanders judged the content to be inappropriate. Copies were ordered destroyed. Pugel was named interim chief after Chief John Diaz announced his retirement earlier this month.  Views, opinions and the understanding of key causes of homelessness have changed dramatically since the 1980's.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I hope folks keep in mind this was a long time ago and the interim chief has obviously dedicated his life to the City of Seattle.
Here's the link to the article and Youtube video.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Seattle Police Chief Retires

Seattle PD has been in the spotlight for the last few years for a series of negative incidents.   The latest Chief, John Diaz was appointed in 2010.  He has been with the department about 30 years.  Shortly after he was promoted to chief, the department was rocked with a several high profile use of force complaints.  The U.S. Department of Justice investigated and found a pattern and practice of excessive force within the department and appointed a federal monitor. 
Seattle Police Chief John Diaz speaks to the media at a news conference Monday morning to announce he is stepping down from the top job in the department. (Photo by Mark Harrison / The Seattle Times)

Chief Diaz seemed like a genuine man who was trying to improve matters, but despite his efforts it seems too many things went wrong.   How much control he had over those incidents would be interesting to know. 

Here is the article from the Seattle Times

Power of Social Media

"41,664" is the number of people who read my April 3 Facebook page post.  I knew there were a lot of people who read it based on the number of comments and "likes," but I had no idea it would be that many. 
Considering there are only a couple hundred hits on this blog with each post, it appears Facebook might be a better way to engage.  It seemed many of the negative comments on the Facebook post were from folks who do not live here and have no idea on the impact synthetic drugs are having in our community.  I ended up spending a fair amount of time correcting inaccurate information that people had posted.  A few people still seem to believe that the synthetic drug case we've been working on begins and ends with DPD.  I corrected a woman who had made a post that was so far off the mark I could not leave it alone.  To my surprise she identified herself as a local grade school teacher that thought her comments could only be seen by her friends.  She was apologetic and said she was embarrassed. 
While I want to be accessible, the real problem is there simply is not enough time in the day to get it all done.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Call of the day

Police call of the day - Reviewing activity from overnight I read about an unusual police pursuit that started in Superior at about 1:30 AM. The fleeing vehicle came across the Blatnik Bridge into Duluth and proceeded north on Hwy 53. The vehicle ended up driving into the St. Louis County Jail parking lot where he stopped. Needless to say the driver will be spending some time at that location.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Best Practices for Investigating Officer Involved Shootings

As part of my role as the Mid-Size Agencies Section General Chair (part of the International Association of Chief's of Police) I recently attended a meeting to begin looking at best practices for investigating officer involved shootings.  It was a stimulating meeting that hit on many of the issues we face when investigating these incidents.  The work will continue through the next year with the recommendations coming out some time next year.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Synthetic Drug Bill

I just found out Representative Simonson's synthetic drug bill will not get a hearing this session, despite his hard work.  That means no new law at the state level.  We will continue to work on the nuisance injunction and wait for the federal trial, but will continue to vigorously look for ways to end the synthetic epidemic in our community.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I was at the Capitol today testifying for the need to improve our State synthetic drug law. While this is gruesome, it needs to be told. In recent weeks Duluth police and fire have responded to several mutilation incidents involving peopl...e high on synthetics (this is on top of the many other synthetic drug related calls): 1. Male dug his eye ball out of his head with a fork 2. Male pulled out his teeth 3. Male chewed on his arm. Here is a disturbing incident of a synthetic drug/bath salt user...It is disturbing, but we need parents to talk with their kids about the dangers of these drugs.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Last Place Update

I need to update you on our efforts to deal with the Last Place on Earth.  Our two pronged approach involved a civil suit seeking a remedy to the problems associated with the business and its impact on the neighborhood.  For now, the business is required to pay for two police officers to be present in the area and address the crime and disorder issues one hour prior to the business opening until one hour after closing at a cost of over $30,000 a month. 

On another front the U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed 54 criminal charges against the owner of the business and several employees.  Myself, impacted area businesses and families of those who lives who have been ruined by the drugs sold in this business are hoping for long prison sentences at the conclusion of the trial.   The trial is scheduled for later this year.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Police Resources

The New York Times printed a great story on police and the impact we have on crime.  It also focused on spending for police versus the spending for incarceration.  In the story Lawrence W. Sherman,  an American criminologist on the faculties of the University of Maryland and Cambridge University in Britain is quoted saying “The United States today is the only country I know of that spends more on prisons than police,”  . “In England and Wales, the spending on police is twice as high as on corrections. In Australia it’s more than three times higher. In Japan it’s seven times higher. Only in the United States is it lower, and only in our recent history.”     The story goes on to focus on the relationship between more police on the street and lower crime rate.  Here's the link to the article

The NY Times article's focus matches up with a news story by Duluth's ABC station on the additional police stationed in the area of the Last Place on Earth and how their presence is making a difference.   Here is that story

So, how about cutting the Department of Corrections budget and giving that money to communities with higher crime areas to hire more police officers?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bratton goes to Oakland

The former chief of NYPD and LAPD is now heading to Oakland.  Bratton has made incredible strides in both cities.  It will be interesting to see what he can do in Oakland.   He is one person I wish I could have worked for.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Since the Sandy Hook murders, a lot of attention has been focused on gun violence.   On Friday, I was asked to go on Almanac North to talk about gun control.  To prepare I checked recent calls in Duluth involving guns.  One that jumped out at me was a incident that actually happened Friday.  An individual intentionally left his handgun in his car while he was at work and someone broke into his car and stole the gun.  A criminal is now likely in possession of that gun. The majority of Duluth's gun incident involve stolen guns and habitual offenders (many of whom cannot legally posses guns in the first place). While the ideas and discussions are great on how to stop gun violence,  recognize we need to have serious sentences for the habitual offenders who continuously victimize our citizens and use or possess guns.  We need to start throwing the book at these folks now!  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 Goals

The Duluth Police Department leadership team met a month ago and spent a day updating our strategic plan and goals for 2013.  Because of unpredictable staffing changes and budgets it makes planning more than a year out slightly more challenging.  Here are our 2012 goals.
Goal One:  Succession Planning
One major area of concern is the upcoming changes to the retirement for Minnesota police officers.   This could result in over 20 retirements by 2015.  Many of those retiring will be command staff and supervisory positions and will have a major impact on our already young police department.  As a result of the potential loss of command and supervisory staff we are ramping up succession planning to our number one goal and major focus for 2013.   To start, we are hosting a three week leadership school in the spring, titled “Leadership in Police Organizations.”  This training caught my attention in 2007 and is best described by the International Association of Chiefs of Police; “The distinguishing feature of the IACP three-week course is a focus on the systematic development of leaders at all levels of an organization- the concept of “every officer a leader.” In the 21st century, police organizations can no longer rely on an individual or small group of leaders. To develop leaders, law enforcement executives must create a culture in their organizations that is supportive of dispersed leadership. This means establishing expectations that all officers will take leadership initiatives at their levels of responsibility.”  A major component of the training is ethics in policing.  While training is just one example of our effort to build future leaders, we are utilizing mentoring, internal opportunities and other avenues to accomplish our goal.
Goal Two: New Records Management System (RMS)
Our current RMS is outdated and does not meet our needs.  Internal surveys conducted over the last four years indicate tremendous frustration by our police and support staff.  Duplication of the reporting process is the biggest frustration as well as the lack of progress on the ability for officers to file reports in the field (something I have been trying to attain since 2007).  Cost analysis research conducted indicates a one to two year payback on the cost of a new system.  This is something desperately needed for the efficiency of our staff and for the ability to improve our efforts to have real time police records (which will in turn improve our data driven/intelligence led policing efforts).
Goal Three:  Introduce New Staffing Plan
We currently have six patrol districts throughout the City.  Historically, we have staffed districts with the same numbers of officers despite significant variation in the in the call load by officer.  With declining budgets, we need to staff efficiently and are placing more officers in problem areas and scheduling them to work during our busiest times of the day.   This will improve our ability to respond to problem areas, increase safety and reduce crime. 
Goal Four: Prevent Crime Through Improved Intelligence-led Policing Efforts
JH Ratcliffe defines intelligence led policing clearly as “Intelligence-led policing is a business model and managerial philosophy where data analysis and crime intelligence are pivotal to an objective, decision-making framework that facilitates crime and problem reduction, disruption and prevention through both strategic management and effective enforcement strategies that target prolific and serious offenders.”  Bottom line, we want to use crime and criminal data to structure our efforts to improve our efforts in addressing habitual offenders and problem areas.  It is how we reduce and prevent crime in an urban environment.
Goal Five:  Create a Crime Analysis Unit (Utilizing existing resources)
We currently have three crime analysts that are non-sworn staff who identify and study trends and patterns in crime.  Analysts make our police officers and investigators much more efficient by providing data and intelligence that helps them devise solutions and strategies to solve and prevent crime.   Crime analysts have become a critical part of our operations and are here to stay.  By centralizing this unit it will provide for improved communication and will better assist all units and bureaus within the department.
I wish you the very best for 2013 and please contact me if you have thoughts on how we can improve our service to you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Eve

I spent my night Downtown....working.   I am amazed at how busy Downtown has become at night.  Despite bitter cold I saw lines of people outside of a few establishments waiting to get in.   While Canal Park used to be the main attraction, I have noticed a steady increase in the number of bars and clubs Downtown.  It is good to see it so alive. 

I am also happy to say there were no major incidents.  A couple of drunks arguing here and there, a fist fight in a gas station, a trip to detox, a couple of drunk engineers from out of town fell into a 7 foot gum ball machine and sent it spilling on the floor (the janitors were not happy with that one and the engineers were appropriately embarrassed and are going to pay for the damage), a runaway, broken down car and catching up with a few of the guys who were keeping our streets safe was about it before I went home for the night.  I drifted off to sleep thinking how much I miss working the street.....