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Thursday, September 13, 2018

TSO 2.0

The Fridley, Blaine, Columbia Heights, and Spring Lake Park police departments—and their area EMS and fire departments—recently completed a multi-discipline training exercise, and they took the Training Safety Officer (TSO) program to a whole new level. The training was titled “Multi-Agency Hostile Event Response, Training, and Exercise.” Note the words “training and exercise.” Fridley Police Officer Bob Stevens referred to it as “walk, jog, and then run,” with the goal of letting the responders build up their skill levels before applying it during the exercise.

The training focused on how to respond to an active shooter or mass casualty incident and worked on integrating the area’s police, fire, and EMS responders. More than 150 responders attended the training, which was offered on six days to departments in their area. The training operated with a strong Incident Command System (ICS), including use of the ICS forms for incident objectives, assignments, communications, and a medical plan. And of course there was a safety briefing with occasional reminders scattered throughout the session.

Officer Stevens reached out to the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) for TSO courses. Tracy Stille and I taught two classes for them well ahead of the training. They fully implemented the program, and I was struck by the amount of time and effort they put in to planning the training and planning the safety aspects of the training.

The end result was six days of excellent training and skill building, no lost-time injuries, and a forging of new relationships with neighboring responders that crossed the lines of EMS, fire, and police. The training was extremely well received.

We thank you for taking this to what we are calling TSO 2.0, and we will be incorporating much of what you showed us into future courses.

We also thank you for the invitation to be observers at your exercise.

Up next: Some Interesting Data on Firefighter Fitness

Stay safe,

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

First Amendment Audits

On a quiet Friday at a city hall in Minnesota, a man walked into the lobby holding a smart phone. He appeared to be video recording as he went up to the receptionist and then walked around the lobby. When city staff asked if they could help him, he would only say he was an independent reporter.

He continued recording as he walked outside around city hall, occasionally putting the phone’s camera lens up to a window. Then he went to the parking lot and appeared to be recording every car—and his actions made it appear he was recording the license plate numbers.

City hall staff called the police department. A uniformed officer asked the man what he was doing and asked for some identification. The man said he was a reporter and did not respond to additional questions as he continued recording.

What’s going on? Most likely, this was a “First Amendment Audit.” This person is testing the city hall staff and police department to see if they will respect his First Amendment right to video record in public areas. In our story, the city staff and the police officer ignored him, and he eventually went away. The staff handled the situation well and didn’t “take the bait.”

This activity is not limited to Minnesota. A recent article posted by the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Association (CIRSA) provides more background and guidance.

We encourage your staff to prepare for an “audit,” as it can be somewhat unnerving if you don’t know what is going on. Be sure staff understands what are public areas and what are not, as well as what actions would warrant calling the police department. Another good tip is to have two staff members approach the person. The second person is there for support and to document what happened. Being prepared can turn your “audit” into a non-event.

Up next: TSO 2.0

Stay safe,

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Mental Health First Aid Classes

Once again this fall, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) will be co-sponsoring Mental Health First Aid classes at various locations around the state. This year, our co-sponsors are the Association of Minnesota Counties, the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota Association of Townships, and the Minnesota School Board Association.

These courses have been very valuable with all levels of municipal employees who work with the public. The training is for city hall and courthouse staff, librarians, municipal liquor store staff, parks & rec staff, police officers, sheriffs’ deputies, firefighters, and EMS responders.

This training provides an understanding of mental health issues, guidance in how to provide help in an emergency, and resources you can provide to connect people with the help they need.

Police officers and sheriffs’ deputies completing the course will receive 9 POST board credits that can be applied toward meeting the new requirements for the in-service learning objectives for crises intervention and mental illness crises training.
Some of you may remember we featured an Eagan officer’s story on how this training helped him handle a 911 call. We featured it a blog last January. Here’s that 2-minute clip again.

The dates and locations for this fall’s training are:

September 18Waseca
September 20White Bear Lake
September 26Paynesville
October 3Fergus Falls
November 14Golden Valley 

Get more information and register for these workshops here.

Up next: First Amendment Audits

Stay safe,