Police Chief

Ask the Chief

“Ask The Chief” is a weekly post allowing readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in the city of Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance our community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs, and the Department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us. 





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Feb 19

February 18, 2019 - Keeping the Community Informed

Posted on February 19, 2019 at 4:46 PM by Kate Berg

February 18, 2019

Ask the Chief

Q: I noticed numerous police cars at a residence, why isn’t the public informed about situations involving this amount of police resources, or published in the local paper?

Image of the side of the RWPD Mobile Command Vehicle with the words "Keeping the Community Inform

Excellent question and I am going to answer this question from three different perspectives as we all view and experience the same situation from different vantage points. 

Perspective one is from you, the neighbor. All that activity outside, lots of flashing lights and police cars in my neighborhood and, as I look out the window, I can see that the police are responding to my neighbor's home across the street. My initial thought is what could be causing the disruption? Should I help my neighbor or the police officer, or stay in the safety of my home? Is my family safe, should I go check with the officer--no, best to stay put and check on my family to make sure everyone is in the house and the doors are locked. This is really annoying that I can't find any information about what is going on across the street.

Perspective two is from the person who is calling for help. My spouse came home drunk and started to beat the children and me. I don’t want to attract attention, however, I need help, so I dial 911. I lock myself and the children in the bathroom and wait for the police.  Hopefully, the bleeding from a cut above my eye will stop and not show too much bruising. I worry about what the neighbors will think. I worry about the children being teased at school. I fear for our lives, please hurry, please hurry. 

Perspective three is from the responding officer(s) and the dispatcher's point of view. As a dispatcher, I receive a call from a person who is being beaten by their spouse and in the background, I hear children screaming. I know I am the vital link between the victim and the responding officer(s). The safety of both the victim and officer(s) may depend upon me. I multi-task by gathering the following information while I dispatch the call for help. 
• Does the victim have a current restraining order?
• Is the suspect under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
• Are weapons involved?
• Are children present?
• Have the police been to this address before?
• Is an ambulance needed?

I (as an officer) take the call for help, assessing all the information from the dispatcher and formulating the quickest and safest response for the victim(s), my fellow officers, and the community. The suspect is in crisis, and people are not themselves when in crisis if they know we are coming, and they know they are in trouble--could this be an ambush? I know my response time is extremely important as the victim(s) risk of physical injury or loss of life is always possible. 

From touching briefly on these three perspectives, we can appreciate each other's points of view and as a community, we can work together in crisis situations to have the best outcome for everyone. 

Back to the question: why isn't the public informed about large police presence on my street? Our first concern is “life safety."  We want to contain the situation and stop the threat. If surrounding areas are in danger, we may utilize a reverse-911 calling system (Code Red) to the area of concern, with instructions to keep the neighborhood safe or we may send officers door to door with further instructions. If no information is put out, the threat was localized or left the area with a potential threat to those not actively involved.

Red Wing Police Department and other government entities are also governed by Minnesota Statute Chapter 13, Government Data Practices, which provides guidance on what information can be released and under what situations. If juveniles are involved, it is likely that information may be restricted/limited. Victims of violent person crimes are also protected under Chapter 13 and if cases are still under investigation, we are limited on what information can be released. One major concern is to not re-victimize the victim, which, in a town our size, is difficult. In the past, certain situations or events were recognized by citizens that resulted in a victim being identified. Therefore, we limit what information is shared or released to try to protect the victim. Once an arrest is made, the charging documents are public record releasable with victim information removed/redacted. 

When there is an overriding concern for public safety, education, or it is beneficial for the community to be aware, we will publish on our RWPD Facebook page, Twitter, or with the Red Wing Republican Eagle via a media release. Each morning we also meet with local reporters to share property crimes that fall under public information, such as shoplifting, property thefts, burglaries, and damage to property, to name a few. 

Public safety is our primary concern, so we go to great lengths to keep the community informed and educated on law enforcement topics that can help keep our community safe. We are also sensitive to victim privacy and it is a delicate balance between transparency and privacy, and I appreciate your cooperation. 

References:

1. Minnesota state statute: Interfering with a 911 call.https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/609.78

2. Minnesota Statute Chapter 13, Government Data Practices, located on-line at: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/13.01

3. Red Wing Police Department Social Media:www.facebook.com/RedWingPolice. Andwww.twitter.com/redwingpolice.

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