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.
I am often asked about our STS program, what it actually means and the benefit of having such a program. Many times the STS program is not understood and often mislabeled. STS is an abbreviation for “Sentencing to Service” and is often affiliated with a “chain gang” concept seen in movies. This perception is certainly not the case. These organized services that county jails and DOC provide are an excellent program for low-risk offenders and they save the taxpayers of Minnesota hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
This month, I am going to write something a little different than the normal monthly articles with submitted questions. I want to give you a snapshot about the activities from the sheriff’s office in 2013. We will be publishing our annual report to the Cass County Board of Commissioners later in February and we will publish it to our Facebook page. This article will detail some of our activities.