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Monday, April 18, 2016

Medical Cannabis and Minnesota Police Officers

The Office of Medical Cannabis is a division
of the Minnesota Department of Public Health.
The Minnesota Medical Cannabis Act creates some issues for cities as employers—including police departments. The law contains some broad and important legal protections for employees who are approved by the state to use medical cannabis. Medical cannabis may be used to treat a variety of health conditions under certain controlled conditions, including Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, intractable pain, and more.

While state law allows the use of medical cannabis, police officers are still regulated by a few special provisions under federal law. Public safety employees who carry a firearm cannot lawfully use medical cannabis under federal law. In addition, federal law prohibits cities from providing firearms or ammunition to employees it knows or has reason to know are using cannabis.

This new area of the law can be difficult for police department managers to navigate. LMCIT has put together a memo entitled “City Employment Issues and Medical Cannabis in Minnesota” that covers all employees broadly—and police employees specifically. The memo can be found at this link:

It is important for employers to note that Minnesota’s medical cannabis law is unique from other state laws in the depth and breadth of its protections. As a result, non-Minnesota specific guidance on the issue can be misleading.

Up Next: Hearing Protection and Injured Animals

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Off-Duty Rescue

Pictured L to R: Officer Metcalf, Chief Stark, and
Ambulance Director John Fox
The headline in the Winona Daily News tells part of the story: “Wabasha police officer helps save life at basketball game.” Police officers save lives with some frequency, but it is exemplary when they do it while they are off duty.

On the afternoon of Friday, February 19, Wabasha Police Officer Dan Metcalf was getting ready to referee a game at the Wabasha Kellogg High School. He is the school liaison officer, and he also referees basketball games. As the game was about to begin, Dan heard fans in the stands calling his name and trying to get his attention. Wabasha Police Chief Joe Stark said, “It’s a small town, and everyone knows him.”

Metcalf went up into the stands and found a 64-year-old woman had collapsed and did not have a pulse. Metcalf and some of the people in the crowd carried the woman down to the gym floor. Metcalf requested that someone call 911 and get an AED (automated external defribillator).

Metcalf began CPR until one of the students arrived with the AED. He applied the AED and delivered one shock. It had no apparent effect. He continued CPR, and about a minute later the moment you always hope for happened. The woman gasped. She was regaining consciousness, and her heart had started working.

Metcalf stayed with her until the ambulance arrived. The woman was taken to the local hospital and then flown by helicopter to St. Mary’s in Rochester. She is doing well and has returned to work.

Dan received a lifesaving award from the city and from the ambulance service. The woman he saved attended the ceremony, and Ambulance Director John Fox used the moment to stress the importance of starting CPR immediately upon determining that a person is in cardiac arrest—as well as the quick application of an AED.

And yes, after the ambulance left, Metcalf went back to the gym and refereed the game.

Up Next: Medical Cannabis and The Workplace

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Ransomware Protection

A recent article in the Washington Post highlighted the issues of ransomware for cities and their police departments. Below is a guest blog by Greg Van Wormer, LMC’s Assistant Technology Services Director, on how to protect your department and city from ransomware.

It doesn’t seem like we can go a day without hearing about another entity hit by ransomware. A type of malware that restricts access to the infected computer system in some way, ransomware demands that the user pay a ransom to the malware operators to remove the restriction.

Lately it appears many public agencies, such as law enforcement, are targets of ransomware attacks. Protecting computers and networks from ransomware is pretty much the same as protecting from viruses and malware in general. Below is a brief list of steps you should take to help protect your computers and network.

  1. Back up your systems on a daily basis. This includes cloud-based services. Make sure you can restore data if a system is compromised.
  2. Install updates as soon as possible. On end user equipment, critical updates should be installed as they’re released.
  3. Limit people’s access to their computers. Don’t allow end users to have local administrative rights. This means end users and a large number of viruses are unable to install software without first gaining administrative access.
    Greg Van Wormer
  4. Limit data access to only what users need to do their job. If a user only needs to view data and not change it, make sure they can only view the data. Ransomware can only encrypt or take hostage data if change or write rights are granted.
  5. Filter email for executable code and other malicious attachments. If you’re using online services like Office 365 or Google Apps, this is usually part of their service.
  6. Use firewalls, both on your network and on local computers.
  7. Use anti-virus.
  8. Separate any public wireless network from the network used for city business. (And avoid using wireless networks whenever possible.)
  9. Educate employees to not click on unknown links, download unknown documents, and be cautious with email.

For more information on keeping city computer networks safe, please see our memo on Computer and Network Loss Control, or join us for the Technology Track at our 2016 Safety & Loss Control Workshops.

Up Next: The Off-Duty Rescue

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.