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Friday, May 8, 2015

Four Hard Truths

The director of the FBI, James Comey, presented an insightful address at Georgetown University in February. The focus was on the relationship between law enforcement and the diverse communities they serve and protect.

Here are a few quotes from his speech: “Serious debates are taking place about how law enforcement personnel relate to the communities they serve, about the appropriate use of force, and about real and perceived biases, both within and outside of law enforcement.” He went on to say, “Those conversations—as bumpy and uncomfortable as they can be—help us understand different perspectives and how to better serve our communities.”

Director Comey then spoke of what he called “some of my own hard truths.” He said, “First, all of us in law enforcement must be honest enough to acknowledge that much of our history is not pretty. At many points in American history, law enforcement enforced the status quo—a status quo that was often brutally unfair to disfavored groups.

“A second hard truth: much research points to the widespread existence of unconscious bias.” Discussing this further, he said: “Racial bias isn’t epidemic in law enforcement any more than it is epidemic in academia or the arts.”

The director’s third hard truth was that “something happens to people in law enforcement.” Many of us develop different levels of cynicism that we work hard to resist because they can lead to lazy mental shortcuts. “For example, criminal suspects routinely lie about their guilt, and nearly everyone we charge is guilty. That makes it easy for some folks in law enforcement to assume that everyone is lying and that no suspect—regardless of their race—could be innocent. Easy but wrong.”

Comey talked about why officers would focus on a group of young black man on one side of the street and not a group of white men on the other side of the street, when both were doing the same thing. He asked whether officers, judges, and juries are racist and responded he doesn’t think so.

“The truth is that what really needs fixing are the disproportionate challenges faced by young men of color.” In his fourth hard truth, Director Comey spoke of “so many boys and young men growing up in environments lacking role models, adequate education, and decent employment. They lack all sorts of opportunities that most of us take for granted.”

I found the director’s comments astute and candid. Below is a link to a transcript of his speech, and I encourage you to read it in its entirety. I also welcome your thoughts, comments, and continued discussion:

Up Next: Work Comp—What You Need to Know

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Stretch 'N Bend with the Columbia Heights Police Department (a guest post by LMCIT Loss Control Consultant Tracy Stille)

Guest blogger/LMCIT Loss Control
Consultant Tracy Stille
Rob Boe and I recently met with Chief Nadeau of the Columbia Heights Police Department (CHPD) and were impressed with their implementation of two specific programs. First, the police department has implemented the much-talked-about Training Safety Officer (or TSO) Program. Second, the police department has just implemented a Stretch ‘N Bend Program for their sworn police officers.

Sergeant Justin Pletcher, who is in charge of the wellness initiatives at CHPD, says their stretching program was initiated in November of 2014 and was modeled after the Stretch ‘N Bend program of Mortenson Construction Company. The initial response from the police officers was about 50/50 positive feedback, with some of the senior officers questioning its purpose. With the premise that the program be either an “all-or-nothing” program, leadership decided to make their exercise program mandatory so that all of the police officers would participate.

With the help of a roll call PowerPoint presentation showing how to complete the exercises, the program has gained more positive feedback, and they will be adding some additional exercises to their program. The exercises are now done at every roll call for the morning, middle, and evening shifts—and the officers have actually commented that they feel better after completing the exercises (i.e. the “buy-in” has been good).

An officer demonstrates a step stretch
With a goal to reduce—if not eliminate—worker injuries, the program was put in place by CHPD, and the results have been positive. Some of the benefits of taking the time to stretch your muscles are that stretching prepares your body for work activities, increases your flexibility, promotes better blood circulation, improves your range of motion, enhances muscle coordination and body awareness, delays muscle fatigue, reduces the incidence and severity of injury, and increases team morale.

An onsite stretching program needs to encourage all employees to participate. It is recommended that the Stretch ‘N Bend program be conducted during the shift briefings that most police and fire departments hold. These stretching programs typically do not last longer than 5-10 minutes and are led by a designated volunteer or shift supervisor.

We will continue to follow up with CHPD as to the results of their new program. Nice job, and thanks for setting an example for other public safety agencies to follow!

Exercise Your Thoughts?

Would you be interested in learning more about this Stretch ‘N Bend program for everyday use within your police or fire department?  We would like to hear your thoughts. Please forward your ideas, and we will compile a list of the responses as well as respond to your requests. Send your ideas, questions, or comments to, or give me a call at (651) 215-4051.

Additionally, you may contact Sgt. Justin Pletcher at the Columbia Heights Police Department at (763) 706-8100 to get direct feedback on their program.

                                      Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next: Four Hard Truths—The FBI Director’s Comments

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Safety and Loss Control Workshop on Vandalism in City Parks

The Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design can
help cities reduce vandalism in their parks.
The 2015 LMCIT Safety and Loss Control Workshops are about to start and our staff will be on the road for the next five weeks. We look forward to meeting and visiting with our members.

In the morning session we have an interesting class that will appeal to public works, parks and recreation, and police attendees. The class is titled “Vandalism, Liability Hazards and Controls”. Paul Gladen, one of our field representatives, explains how cities can reduce vandalism to their parks. Part of the class focuses on a program called “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design”, (CPTED).  CPTED is based on the premise that the physical environment can be designed to discourage vandalism.

Good sight lines and lighting
reduce vandalism.
Paul shows the class examples of how well this works by using before and after photos of parks where CPTED has been implemented. Some of the tips include trimming trees to a height of eight feet and keeping shrubs less than three feet tall to improve sight lines. The result is not only a reduction in vandalism, but the park becomes a place where people feel safe as well.  Paul also shows how lighting plans are incorporated to the design.

The workshops have lots of courses and attendees are encouraged to move between the five tracks of: Administrative, Police, Public Works/Parks and Rec, Safety Committee, and Insurance Agents.  Registration is still open for most of the workshops.  Here’s the link:

Up Next: The Stretch and Bend at Columbia Heights PD. 

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.