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Monday, April 8, 2019

“OD MAP” Is Up and Running

In the second hour of our ongoing Safety and Loss Control Workshops, we have a session on Minnesota’s opioid epidemic. We began by asking the police officers what they are experiencing in their cities. Their responses reflect the wide range of impact. One city is handling and investigating numerous opioid overdoses and deaths, while a city 33 miles away had just one in the last year. All report that meth is still prevalent, and many mention the crimes—particularly theft and burglary—that accompany the drug problem.

Another common concern is the lack of information as to what is trending, and the ability to track overdoses that are occurring in other jurisdictions and in other regions of the state. The Minnesota Department of Health’s “Opioid Action Plan” called out the need for law enforcement and the rest of the public safety communities to be able to get real-time information on overdoses occurring around the state.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has rolled out “ODMAP.” This is a free tool that provides real-time overdose information data across jurisdictions. It is user-friendly and allows entries to be made from the scene, the car, or later when officers are at the station. On the backend it tracks the day of the week, date, time, location, Naloxone use, and—most importantly—it tracks “spikes” when multiple overdoses begin to occur in a short amount of time. Each department has the ability to set the number of incidents they would consider a spike.

Project Coordinator Lindsey Bartholdi will be at some of the workshops, available to answer questions and even schedule appointments to help implement the program in your department. If you are unable to attend the remaining workshops, I encourage your department to contact the BCA for more information at (651) 793-7000 or

Visit our website for more information on the remaining workshops and to register.

Up next: What We Learned (A Review of What We Heard While On the Road)

Stay safe,

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Flooding Precautions

It is unusual for us to make two posts live in such close succession, but our current and rapidly changing spring flooding is unusual and dangerous—especially for our public safety responders. Responding to these incidents involving flooding are “High Risk-Low Frequency Events.” Below are links to information you can share with your EMS, fire, and police responders.

Be sure your department is in contact with your city and/or your county emergency manager.

Here are some good tips from Police One. I really like their 3-step approach to responding to incidents involving flooding:

  1. Am I seeing the whole picture? (situational awareness)
  2. Where are the most likely threats?
  3. What are my action plans? (pre-planning)

- Here are two short video clips from the weather service stressing and showing the dangers of driving on flooded roadways. The first one uses a catchy tune that can get stuck in your head (a good thing in this case!), and the second one illustrates what can happen if you try to drive on a flooded road.

The CDC has information on the health risk posed by floodwaters. In 1993, our farm in the Minnesota River Valley flooded, and the smell of what was left behind made putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) automatic.

Up next: Report from the State Fire School in North Mankato

Stay safe,

The Chiefs' Meeting

I was recently invited to attend a county’s police chiefs’ meeting. In my career I have attended quite a few of these in a number of counties, but it had been a few years since I was at one. And basically not much has changed, which is good.

It was obvious as soon as I walked into the room that the chiefs and their staffs know each other well. The departments represented at the meeting were a mixture of small, medium, and large, representing very different communities.

The meeting had a formal call-to-order, and the group’s president began working his way through the agenda with a review of the minutes of the last meeting. I did a short presentation on the risk management issues we are seeing in our statistics and about some upcoming projects.

I had forgotten how impressive it is to see a room full of law enforcement professionals actively and openly engaged in a discussion of current and future issues facing their departments and their cities. It’s a chance for them to check in with each other and to increase their awareness of what is happening around them. And the conversations continued after the agenda had been completed, through the lunch, and even in the parking lot as they headed to their cars.

I thank New Brighton’s Public Safety Director Tony Paetznick for the invitation to attend the meeting and for giving me a chance to “check in” with the chiefs.

Up next: Flooding Precautions

Stay safe,

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Physical Ability Testing (PAT) Project

The League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) and the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) are working with a group of our members on an exciting, new, and much-needed project. We are taking on the area of pre-hire fitness testing for police officers.

This is an issue that can be confusing for departments, as the type of testing needs to be both validated to the requirements of the job and to ensure it is not discriminatory. It’s also an area where police leadership and cities’ human resource directors can get tripped up by the federal rules that apply, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A survey of their membership conducted for us by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association indicated:

  • 40% of the respondents do not do any type of physical testing and rely on the skills school experience and/or the pre-hire medical examination
  • 29% are doing their own in-house testing
  • 23% contract with an outside firm for the testing
  • 8% indicated they use other means to assess the applicant’s level of fitness

The survey matched information we learned from the POST board staff, and from the many inquiries and questions we received from our membership.

Based on their level of interest, a steering committee has been established consisting of police chiefs (or their designees) and staff from city human resources departments. Our in-house committee members draw from the League’s human resources department, legal staff, workers’ compensation supervisors, loss control staff, and law enforcement coordinators.

It is the committee’s goal to provide a model for testing that could be adapted to fit the needs of departments of different sizes. And like all model policies, it will not be mandatory. 

I will provide periodic updates as the work progresses.

Up next: A County Police Chiefs' Meeting

Stay safe,

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

2019 Safety and Loss Control Workshops

It is a sure sign of spring when registration opens for the annual Safety and Loss Control Workshops! This year’s police track will feature presentations in the morning, as well as a back-by-popular-demand afternoon session. It is a Police HR Bootcamp entitled “Keeping Zombies and Vampires from Sucking the Life Out of Your Workplace.” 

The morning police track sessions have some pretty interesting titles as well. Leading off with the “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” (on police property room management), “Same, Same, But Different” (a look at emerging trends for police), and “Three Critical Insurance Issues for Police Departments” (filing workers’ compensation claims, PTSD, and joint powers agreements).

All courses will be certified for POST continuing education credit, and lunch is included. We look forward to connecting and reconnecting with our members as we move around the state. Here is the schedule:

March 27—Mahnomen
March 28—Alexandria
April 3—Redwood Falls
April 4—Mankato
April 9—Rochester
April 11—Biwabik
April 16—St. Paul
April 23—St. Cloud
April 25—Brooklyn Park

Visit our website for more information and to register.

Reminder—the Opioid Information Session is scheduled for February 7 in Bloomington. It is free, sponsored by the League, and open to the entire public safety community. It is a chance to hear from the Minnesota Department of Health on the latest statistics and prevention efforts, from Minneapolis PD, to learn about the current litigation efforts, and—most importantly—to be part of an open discussion on the impacts of opioids in Minnesota.

Up next: Physical Ability Testing (PAT) Project

Stay safe,

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Opioid Resources

The opioid epidemic continues to expand in Minnesota. There are news stories almost daily about the number of fatal overdoses—including a recent article about the increasing number of children in emergency foster care due to their parents’ addiction, and another about the number of fatal overdoses in one metro county. This is not existing in a vacuum and it is not static. 

Meth overdoses and seizures are also at an all-time level and—while we are seeing improvement in the prescription side of the opioid problem—heroin and illegal fentanyl overdoses and fatalities continue to rise. We know that some of you are in the middle of this crisis and others are on the edge. Here are some resources to share with your staff:

  • The League has a new webpage to assist cities and public safety responders in getting more information about the opioid epidemic in Minnesota. The site will be updated with new information and resources as they become available. 
  • The Minnesota Department of Health, (MDH), has made their Opioid Dashboard the source to visit for what is happening with the Minnesota opioid epidemic. It is full of current information and training resources.
  • “Fentanyl: The Real Deal” is a training video that I highly recommend for all first responders. It runs about six minutes and is endorsed by nearly all of the national public safety associations.
  • The video is paired with written guidance entitled Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
  • An Opioid Information Session is scheduled for February 7 in Bloomington. It is free, sponsored by the League, and open to the entire public safety community. 

Up next: An Early Look at the 2019 Safety and Loss Control Workshops

Stay safe,