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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.