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Friday, April 18, 2014

Discussions at the Workshops: “Smartphones, Social Media, and Digital Cameras”

Both the fire and police tracks discuss smartphones,
social media, and digital camera issues.
The Safety & Loss Control Workshops are off and running. Consistent themes of discussion in both the fire and police track classes has been on the subject of smartphones, social media, and digital photos. The topic is formally on the agenda in both tracks, and the interest and discussion has been continuing well after class.

Litigation and Claims Special Counsel Jack Hennen addresses the subjects in his fire track presentation, “Avoiding the Big Hurt.” The subjects are also part of our human resources department’s presentation, “Avoiding the Burn—Hot HR Topics for Fire Departments.” In the police track, these subjects are part of “Keeping the Horse In Front of the Cart,” which deals with rapidly changing technology.

While each of these topics is different, there are four common themes among them:

#1. If the technology is used while working, it is most likely gathering government data. Body cameras, helmet cams, photos, text messages, and phone calls are all subject to the law. It does not matter who owns the device—it is all about the data. If it is work-related, it is government data.

#2. Government data must be maintained pursuant to the requirements of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. That includes storage, classification, and retention. Failure to follow the Act can result in adverse consequences for both the individuals involved and the city.

Jack Hennen instructs "Avoiding the Big Hurt" in Duluth.
#3. Before there is a release, dissemination, or posting of any government data or images, the department should consult with their “responsible authority” as defined in the Act.

#4. “Just because you can does not mean you should.” New information technology has made it very easy and fast to capture data, send data, and post data. The phrase “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” is an ethical reminder about gathering and handling data.

The League now has a model social media policy for fire departments. It is part of Jack’s presentation, and you can email me at if you would like a copy.

                                             Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next…The Final Report for the 2014 Safety & Loss Control Workshops

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Monday, April 7, 2014

The Conversation at Lunch: Body Armor on the Shooting Range

Shakopee officers put on body armor before heading
to the range at the SCALE Regional Training Center.
Does your police department require everyone on the shooting range to wear body armor? That was the conversation at lunch at one of the recent loss control workshops. The answer for a number of officers at the table was “no.”

“It’s crazy that we don’t,” was one of the remarks. Another officer added: “It’s the one day you know you are going to be around gunfire.” While range officers and safety officers do everything they can to prevent accidental discharges and they very rarely happen, they still do happen. We also have officers injured when a bullet strikes something in the backstop and pieces of it ricochet back at the officers. It happens.

The discussion began to focus on why? Some thought that because many of the officers are off duty and in civilian clothes, that somehow translates into the idea that they don’t need their vest. But body armor and shooting ranges go together, just like body armor and uniforms go together. 

Body armor needs to be mandatory for everyone at the range, and it needs to be a policy. If it is not department policy, make it your policy. On that we had complete agreement!


                                                    Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next…More Conversation From the Workshops

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Annual Spring Loss Control Workshops

The LMCIT Spring Loss Control Workshops start March 25. This year, we are offering a full day of public safety training.

The morning Police Track will start with a workshop entitled “Keeping the Cart in Front of the Horse,” which will focus on managing changing technology. The session “Why Police Reports Are a Big Deal” will concentrate on police reports. This class has been requested by police administrators from around the state and will offer practical tips and simple strategies for writing quality police reports.

The Fire Track is back this year, offering firefighters an afternoon of sessions with very interesting titles: “Avoiding the Big Hurt,” “I Could See It Coming–The Training Safety Officer Program,” and “Avoid the Burn–Hot HR Topics for Fire Departments.”

The $20 registration fee includes course materials, snacks, and lunches. If you are attending one of the half-day sessions, you are welcome to attend any of the other courses being offered throughout the day.

Locations and Dates
March 25–Bemidji
March 26–Fergus Falls
April 2–Springfield
April 9–Duluth
April 16–Brooklyn Park
April 17–Rochester
April 22–St. Cloud
April 24–St. Paul

Register today at:


                                                      Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next…A Report From the Workshops

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.