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Monday, April 27, 2015

Stretch 'N Bend with the Columbia Heights Police Department (a guest post by LMCIT Loss Control Consultant Tracy Stille)

Guest blogger/LMCIT Loss Control
Consultant Tracy Stille
Rob Boe and I recently met with Chief Nadeau of the Columbia Heights Police Department (CHPD) and were impressed with their implementation of two specific programs. First, the police department has implemented the much-talked-about Training Safety Officer (or TSO) Program. Second, the police department has just implemented a Stretch ‘N Bend Program for their sworn police officers.

Sergeant Justin Pletcher, who is in charge of the wellness initiatives at CHPD, says their stretching program was initiated in November of 2014 and was modeled after the Stretch ‘N Bend program of Mortenson Construction Company. The initial response from the police officers was about 50/50 positive feedback, with some of the senior officers questioning its purpose. With the premise that the program be either an “all-or-nothing” program, leadership decided to make their exercise program mandatory so that all of the police officers would participate.

With the help of a roll call PowerPoint presentation showing how to complete the exercises, the program has gained more positive feedback, and they will be adding some additional exercises to their program. The exercises are now done at every roll call for the morning, middle, and evening shifts—and the officers have actually commented that they feel better after completing the exercises (i.e. the “buy-in” has been good).

An officer demonstrates a step stretch
With a goal to reduce—if not eliminate—worker injuries, the program was put in place by CHPD, and the results have been positive. Some of the benefits of taking the time to stretch your muscles are that stretching prepares your body for work activities, increases your flexibility, promotes better blood circulation, improves your range of motion, enhances muscle coordination and body awareness, delays muscle fatigue, reduces the incidence and severity of injury, and increases team morale.

An onsite stretching program needs to encourage all employees to participate. It is recommended that the Stretch ‘N Bend program be conducted during the shift briefings that most police and fire departments hold. These stretching programs typically do not last longer than 5-10 minutes and are led by a designated volunteer or shift supervisor.

We will continue to follow up with CHPD as to the results of their new program. Nice job, and thanks for setting an example for other public safety agencies to follow!

Exercise Your Thoughts?

Would you be interested in learning more about this Stretch ‘N Bend program for everyday use within your police or fire department?  We would like to hear your thoughts. Please forward your ideas, and we will compile a list of the responses as well as respond to your requests. Send your ideas, questions, or comments to, or give me a call at (651) 215-4051.

Additionally, you may contact Sgt. Justin Pletcher at the Columbia Heights Police Department at (763) 706-8100 to get direct feedback on their program.

                                      Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next: Four Hard Truths—The FBI Director’s Comments

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Safety and Loss Control Workshop on Vandalism in City Parks

The Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design can
help cities reduce vandalism in their parks.
The 2015 LMCIT Safety and Loss Control Workshops are about to start and our staff will be on the road for the next five weeks. We look forward to meeting and visiting with our members.

In the morning session we have an interesting class that will appeal to public works, parks and recreation, and police attendees. The class is titled “Vandalism, Liability Hazards and Controls”. Paul Gladen, one of our field representatives, explains how cities can reduce vandalism to their parks. Part of the class focuses on a program called “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design”, (CPTED).  CPTED is based on the premise that the physical environment can be designed to discourage vandalism.

Good sight lines and lighting
reduce vandalism.
Paul shows the class examples of how well this works by using before and after photos of parks where CPTED has been implemented. Some of the tips include trimming trees to a height of eight feet and keeping shrubs less than three feet tall to improve sight lines. The result is not only a reduction in vandalism, but the park becomes a place where people feel safe as well.  Paul also shows how lighting plans are incorporated to the design.

The workshops have lots of courses and attendees are encouraged to move between the five tracks of: Administrative, Police, Public Works/Parks and Rec, Safety Committee, and Insurance Agents.  Registration is still open for most of the workshops.  Here’s the link:

Up Next: The Stretch and Bend at Columbia Heights PD. 

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

South Central College Regional Fire School

The annual training is hosted by
South Central College in North Mankato.
Kudos to Bob Scheidt and the staff at South Central College in North Mankato for another successful regional fire school last weekend. The school was bustling as 683 firefighters—representing 150 departments from four states—spent all of Saturday and half of Sunday learning and improving their skills and decision-making. This year’s school offered 50 classes in 4-, 8-, and 12-hour blocks. We thank Bob and his staff for once again inviting the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) to be a part of it.

The school has an incredible energy about it. It is classroom after classroom full of firefighters, listening to instructors, discussing issues, and learning about leadership. The hallways are busy with firefighters in turn-out gear heading to the parking lots for their practical exercises like auto extrication, or bus and heavy truck rescues. Other groups are boarding the school buses that shuttle them off campus for a live burn of a house or ice rescue training.

Once again this year, LMCIT staff member Chris Smith presented the class “Fire Department Management and Liability.” A few of the topics covered were: joint powers agreements, contracting for service, fundraisers, relief associations, alcohol response policies, and a look at firefighter injuries. There was plenty of discussion—particularly on election vs. selection of firefighters and command staff. This type of forum opens up an exchange of information between the firefighters, as well as with the instructors.
St. Peter Fire Chief (and incident commander)
Ron Quade briefs the class.

We thank Plymouth Fire Chief Rick Kline for being the lead instructor for the *Training Safety Officer (TSO) program. That group spent the morning in the classroom learning the elements of the TSO program, getting a briefing from one of the live burn instructors, and working on risk assessments of training lesson plans. Then it was off to lunch and onto the bus for a trip out to the burn site to meet up with the burn team and their students. I was lucky enough to assist in this training.

We thank Bob and his staff coordinating and hosting this wonderful annual event.

*TSO Training
Chief Kline is also the chairman of the safety and health committee for the Minnesota State Fire Chief’s Association. That committee has made the Training Safety Officer program a priority for the coming year. If you would like a TSO class in your region, contact Chief Kline at (There is no charge for the training.)


                                    Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next... Safety and Loss Control Workshop on Vandalism in City Parks

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.