It was another busy year in 2014 for the Cass County Sheriff's office. Our annual report has been completed and will be presented to the county board of commissioners and available on our website and Facebook page soon. I would like to give you a snapshot of some of our activities of the sheriff's office and associated initiatives. It was a busy year for almost every division of the sheriff's office. We processed 19,407 ICRs (Initial Complainant Reports).
We have recently been reminded that no ice should always be considered 100 percent safe. Over the past several weeks, we have had reports of snowmobiles, ATVs, Utility Vehicles and vehicles going through the ice or partially going through the ice. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported in any of the incidents. We are often asked when or where is the ice safe? There really is no sure answer. You can't judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature or whether or not the ice is covered with snow.
Over the past few months, we have heard and read a lot about law enforcement and the use of body cameras in their daily activities. After several high profile cases, this new program is starting to take effect across the country. While there are definitely pros and cons to any new technology being used in the law enforcement field, we are constantly researching new technology and think that body cameras and other recording device usage provides a great tool for law enforcement and our officers on patrol. The sheriff's office has actually been using video recording technology for many years.
Winter has arrived and we have seen our first ice and snowfalls of the season. As I read our daily ICR reports, I am reminded that we can all use a brush up on winter driving awareness and safety. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security and Emergency Management held a Winter Hazard Awareness Week from Nov. 10-14 and offered some great information and tips that I would like to share.
I often have the opportunity to visit with many groups around the county, including lake association meetings during the summer months. At these meetings, we are frequently asked about our Recreational Division and the grants that we get from the State of Minnesota and other sources and how we utilize these grant dollars to help enhance public safety in Cass County.
I was recently asked about how the sheriff's office prioritizes and responds to calls for service. The answer is fairly complicated and many factors go into this process. Our dispatch center, often referred to as the communications center, is the hub of activity within the sheriff's office. It is a very busy place with several telephone lines coming into it, many of which could ring at the same time many times throughout the day or night.
This month I would like to reiterate a topic that we have covered before as a very important reminder that people of all ages can use: All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) safety and information about training programs and courses available for youth to become certified to operate a ATV in our State. Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed June 8-15 as ATV Safety Week in Minnesota. Statics from the DNR show that more than 600,000 ATVs are used in Minnesota by men, women and children for outdoor recreation and to support their daily livelihood.
As long as it seemed to get here, the boating season is already upon us. Fortunately, we did not have a serious boating accident or drowning incident in 2013. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office wants you to stay safe on the water this year, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro. We have combined a series of helpful tips and reminders to help make your time on the water enjoyable and safe this year.
April is National Volunteer Month and I would like to use this column to recognize the many people that volunteer in several different capacities with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.
We have had recent questions about welfare fraud and fraud prevention within Cass County. The sheriff’s office has always assisted Human, Health and Veteran Services in fraud investigations. We have been recently asked by Human, Health and Veteran Services to take over fraud prevention and fraud investigations for entire Cass County.