Police chief's column: Information sharing among police could prevent future tragediesIn Minnesota, the Chiefs of Police Association, police leaders and a few other organizations have been pushing for a change in Minnesota law that has hamstrung our ability to receive important information on criminal activity from agencies outside of Minnesota.
By: Gordon Ramsay, For the Budgeteer News
You will likely be surprised to know Minnesota law enforcement agencies are not receiving information from other states and federal entities because of Minnesota (law) Chapter 13, that makes criminal investigative data shared by agencies outside of Minnesota public data only if it is not tied to an active criminal investigation in Minnesota.
Recently, I read a news article describing the testimony by Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis before a House committee on homeland security about the recent bombing. The Commissioner mentioned concerns about information sharing among law enforcement agencies.
A real-life recent example involves a federal law enforcement agency’s call to notify local police that they were investigating suspicious activity that might have turned violent in nature. They provided police the area where a suspect lived, but did not provide a name or address for fear of the information becoming public when the investigation is over. The local police knew nothing more than the above. This left us in the dark. A major void in information sharing occurred for fear that if someone had planned something nefarious, but did not go to the level of actually committing a crime, that information would have become public. If this information becomes public, a person with the criminal intent may try something else.
In Minnesota, the Chiefs of Police Association, police leaders and a few other organizations have been pushing for a change in Minnesota law that has hamstrung our ability to receive important information on criminal activity from agencies outside of Minnesota.
Without the ability to apply reasonable protections to this data from other states we are isolating Minnesota law enforcement agencies from important information tied to multi-jurisdictional criminal activity.
The general public believes law enforcement is sharing information more than ever in a post-Sept. 11 era. Given Minnesota law, it still is not happening here .... We need to get this law changed to prevent further tragedies. Your police leaders will continue to push for reasonable law changes — even though we have not been successful at our Capitol to date.
Summer in Duluth
As we head into summer, our summer staffing plan has been implemented. This summer’s focus is preventing disorder and improving the perception of Downtown. We will have many officers on foot and bike downtown, focusing on problem areas and problem people. We are working closely with our partners in the criminal justice system to ensure our habitual offenders are held accountable for their behavior.
As I have written about before, I am always amazed at the many one-person crime sprees we have walking around. We will audit a percentage of our downtown arrests as they progress through the system in hopes of identifying areas that need improvement. With current budgets and staffing levels we cannot afford to let crooks off the hook.
There are a lot of good things happening Downtown. The nightlife is better than ever, there are new restaurants, art stores and clothing stores, and we are eagerly awaiting the groundbreaking of the largest commercial development in Duluth’s history.
You can rest assured knowing your police department is doing everything we can to prevent crime and disorder.
Our officers continue to do an outstanding job serving our community. Our staff responded to more than 85,000 calls for service last year, solved a lot of crime and locked up a lot of crooks.
I write about this because you don’t hear about the great work our staff does day after day.
I am fortunate to see their tremendous work on a daily basis.
Contact Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay at 730-5020 or gramsay@