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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Property and Evidence Room Management

West St. Paul Police Chief
Bud Shaver presents at the conference.
A guest blog by Tracy Stille, Loss Control and Law Enforcement Field Consultant

The importance of property and evidence room management has certainly gained visibility in the state of Minnesota. One result of the increased visibility was legislation enacted in 2010, requiring the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training and the Minnesota County Attorneys Association to develop a model policy that articulates best practices for forfeitures.

Along with West St. Paul City Attorney Kori Land and West St. Paul Police Chief Bud Shaver, I recently presented at the 2018 City Attorney’s Educational Conference on the importance of police property room management.

In addition to taking custody of property subject to forfeiture, law enforcement officers take custody of lost and stolen property, contraband, and physical evidence that can directly or indirectly solve a crime. The integrity of these items depends upon the proper handling of the items from the moment law enforcement takes possession of them until they are legally returned to their owners, sold, destroyed, or retained for agency use.

The mishandling of these items by law enforcement agencies can lead to criminal charges against officers, financial liability for the law enforcement agency, the loss or theft of property, or the damage, contamination, or destruction of evidence.

In 2011, the State Auditor’s Office published a Best Practices Review of Police Property and Evidence Rooms to provide timely, important resources to law enforcement agencies around the state of Minnesota and to help mitigate the mishandling of police property. It not only provided a guide to developing a Property and Evidence Room Policies and Procedures Manual, but it is also unique in that it incorporates an overlay of Minnesota laws.

Loss Control Field Consultant
Tracy Stille
Police Property Room Self-Inspections Checklist

The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) has also developed a self-inspection checklist for Minnesota cities. This checklist can be used to evaluate your own police property room and to ensure that it has sufficient security, storage, and equipment, as well as ensure that the personnel assigned to the property room have sufficient oversight and training.

If you are interested in receiving free information about the self-inspection of your police property room, please contact me. I will either email you a copy of the self-inspection checklist or, if you prefer, arrange for a free on-site visit of your police property room. 

You may contact me at or give me a call at (651) 215-4051.

Up next: The Impact of Fitness and Weight on Officer Injuries

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Spring Workshops: From Policy to Practice—Managing Critical Incidents

Attendees will work through a
simulated critical incident exercise.
Critical incidents—such as officer-involved shootings and pursuits ending in death—can turn the world upside down in a matter of moments. The police track at this year’s spring Safety & Loss Control Workshops will focus on the just released LMCIT model policy for handling critical incidents. 

The policy was developed as a resource for our membership, as some of our departments have policies in place and others do not. It is a guide that can be tailored to individual departments and not a mandated policy. 

The second hour of the workshop will be a table-top exercise where attendees will be able to work through a simulated critical incident and bring the policy to life. A checklist is included in the policy and will be used to assist in managing the incident. 

The policy and accompanying planning memo are now available on the League’s website. The memo provides the background, explanations, and options contained in the policy.

The other session in the police track will focus on the procedures for conducting background checks for new officers. 

Dates and locations for this year’s Safety & Loss Control Workshops are:

March 27 – Bemidji
March 28 – Fergus Falls
April 4 – Duluth
April 11 – Sleepy Eye
April 12 – Willmar
April 17 – St. Paul
April 19 – Brooklyn Park
April 24 – Rochester
April 26 – St. Cloud 

Up next: Police Property and Evidence Room Management (A Guest Blog from Tracy Stille) 

Stay safe,

Monday, March 5, 2018

Gun Violence Protests—How Should Your City Respond?

A guest blog by Jeanette Behr, Research Manager for the League of Minnesota Cities

In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, several student-led gun violence protests/walkouts have been announced. What if this happens in your city? What if students march to city hall, as they already have in some Minnesota cities?

Consider working proactively with your local schools and the city attorney to craft a planned response that is respectful of First Amendment rights and focuses on safety for all involved.

Planned protests
Three gun violence protests have been announced. A 17-minute “National School Walkout” is planned for March 14 at 10 a.m. Ten days later, on March 24, “March for Our Lives” is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the Minnesota State Capitol (as well as in Washington, D.C., and other locations throughout the country).

A third event, “The National High School Walk-Out for Anti-Gun Violence,” is scheduled for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. Students are being called on to wear orange and walk out of school.

First Amendment rights 
If this happens in your city, it’s important to remember that in America, people—including students—have a right or freedom to speak. That speech includes “expressive conduct” such as distributing literature, holding up banners, and marching in the street. Cities, as local government, must not unconstitutionally limit that right to speak.

First Amendment rights to protest are especially strong in city streets, sidewalks, and in city parks. As public forums, people may typically speak, hand out literature, or carry signs on streets, sidewalks, and in parks to express their opinions loudly.

In White Bear Lake, Mayor Jo Emerson and a few councilmembers recently invited peaceful (and loud) student protestors into city hall. The city officials listened to the students and let them express their views. This was a remarkable way to honor student protesters’ First Amendment rights and, at the same time, defuse anger and keep everyone involved safe.

Watch a news story about this from KARE 11

LMC Research Manager
Jeanette Behr
 Government interests 
City staff and elected officials, acting as part of government, must allow people (including students) to speak or protest. The challenge for cities is to balance First Amendment rights to protest with the city’s interest to protect the speaker, law enforcement officials, and those who may not wish to hear certain views expressed in their city.

Remember, under current criminal law, cities may prosecute demonstrators who damage public property or public safety vehicles, or harm a third party.

Beware the heckler’s veto
Other residents in a city may find a walkout or protest unpopular, triggering counter protests. City officials and city police departments cannot remove the unpopular group to appease the counter protesters.

A person’s right to speak cannot be limited because it stirs people to anger, invites public outcry, or causes turmoil. To do so allows those heckling a speaker to quash their speech by getting the city to intervene. This is known as the heckler’s veto.

LMC offers guidance
The League recently published a memo to help your city understand how to respond to walkouts and protests. Most importantly, allow protestors to express their views loudly, but peacefully, and do not allow counter protestors to shut down a protest.

Read the LMC memo: First Amendment Concepts for Protests in Cities (pdf)

You can direct questions about the memo to League research staff by phone (800) 925-1122 (651) 281-1200 or email

The First Amendment and free speech issues will also be covered at this spring’s Safety & Loss Control Workshops, which you can learn more about here.

Up next: Managing Critical Incidents—From Policy to Practice at the 2018 Safety and Loss Control Workshops

Stay safe,