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We are often asked how citizens can be proactive about crime prevention and what programs the sheriff’s office offers as proactive law enforcement. I would like to discuss a few of the programs that we offer.

The sheriff’s office supports Neighborhood Watch programs. A neighborhood watch may be organized as its own group or may simply be a function of a neighborhood association or other community association. The programs are generally local residents in a specific area that form groups to watch over their neighborhoods and to look out for any suspicious activity in their areas. The sheriff’s office can hold trainings or attend neighborhood meetings for those who want to learn more about what to watch for and how to report incidents to the sheriffs office. When suspecting criminal activities, members are encouraged to contact authorities and not to intervene. These citizens and programs are the eyes and ears of the neighborhoods. They know what is normal and who and what belongs there. Programs like neighborhood watch are especially important this time of the year as snowbirds start to pack up for the season and leave their cabins and homes unattended for months at a time. You don’t have to have a formal neighborhood watch program to protect your neighborhood. If you are leaving for a period of time, it’s important to let those around you know that you are gone and what to expect at your residence. If they see anything suspicious or out of place, they will know to call law enforcement to investigate.

The sheriff’s office also utilizes the Operation Identification Program, also known as Operation ID. Operation Identification is nationally recognized by law enforcement as a citizen’s burglary prevention program for use in the home or business. This program has existed for more than 30 years. The Operation ID program allows law enforcement to detect, identify and return stolen or lost property to its rightful owner. The Operation ID program involves marking or engraving property with an identifying number and displaying a window decal to discourage burglary and theft. There are three steps in the Operation ID program. Those three Steps for Utilizing the ID Program are:

1Mark property or valuables with an identifying mark, which is assigned by your local law enforcement agency when you sign up and get a starter packet. The sheriff’s office also has engravers available that you can sign out and use for marking your property.

2 Inventory your marked property on the provided form with descriptions including brand, model number and serial number. Keep it in a safe place.

3 Display the Operation ID decal on windows only after items one and two have been completed to show your participation in the program and to discourage burglary.

The sheriff’s office and TRIAD have sponsored workshops where citizens can come and learn more about Operation ID and Neighborhood Watch and pick up the materials to get started. We have also done several presentations to various groups regarding these programs. You can call Charlene Erickson at 218-547-7303 to get started with Operation ID or Neighborhood Watch. To set up a presentation for your group on these programs, you can contact Pauline at 218-547-7308.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office also is partnered with Crime Stoppers of Minnesota, a statewide initiative in preventing and solving crime. By continuing to support the building of awareness and use of systems available through Crime Stoppers citizens in Cass County will be reminded that they can anonymously pass on information to help solve crimes. Citizens who may be reluctant to give information about a crime or fugitive directly to the authorities but who still want to “do the right thing,” can contact Crime Stoppers anonymously and the information will then be shared with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office or which ever agency the tip information leads to. Support of Crime Stoppers of Minnesota gives the sheriff’s office a greater reach for collecting information about crimes. These additional methods to turn in tips help the sheriff’s office add efficiency to its investigators’ time, speeds solving of cases and helps bring comfort to the victims of a crime.

People with knowledge about a crime or a fugitive can contact Crime Stoppers by calling 800-222-TIPS (8477), going online at or by texting a cellphone message beginning with TIP674, then the message and SEND to CRIMES (274637). Users of smartphones can download an app called Submit a Tip and also send information. Crime Stoppers accepts tips in any language by phone; in English, Spanish, French or Somali on the Internet; and keeps the identity of the tipster anonymous. If the tip leads to an arrest or charging the tipster may qualify to receive a reward of up to $1,000 and still remain anonymous.

If you have specific questions that you would like answered in this column or in person, please feel free to contact me anytime using one of the following methods: Email me at, or by phone at 218-547-1424 or 800-450-2677; or by mail/in person at 303 Minnesota Ave. W., PO Box No. 1119, Walker MN 56484.