Many Northfield area well-wishers and maybe a few of the occasionally arrested turned out for Northfield Police Sergeant Mark Murphy‘s retirement party at Northfield City Hall Council Chambers yesterday afternoon.
Northfield Police Sergeant Mark Murphy stopped by my corner office at GBM on Wednesday and gave me the news: he’s retiring today. I later found the details of his retirement party in this KYMN news blog post, Sgt. Murphy hangs up his badge:
Interim Police Chief Chuck Walerius… invites the public to an open house for Murphy next Monday, April 22nd at the City Hall Chambers from 3pm to 5pm. There will be coffee and cake and a chance to say thanks to Mark for all his service to the community.
Mark and I have a history. He hired me to help him with his campaign blog when he ran for Rice County Sheriff. Despite his loss, I was hoping that our professional relationship would be enough to have him look the other way whenever it might happen that I was observed to not be in full compliance with local traffic laws. Not so, it turned out. It´s been a long journey, but after he got his equity release on his house to see how much he could get for retirment, he decided it was time to hang up his badge after all this time.
Fast forward two years and now the opportunity of further collaboration and sharing of services may be available, depending upon the result of the fire services study. If the study indicates consolidation/collaboration is not only possible, but recommended, maybe a regional fire services director versus a public safety director is the answer. With an open position as yet undefined, that’s a possibility. Perhaps the study will suggest such collaboration would not work. The new city council will then have the opportunity to review the post, especially considering the strides the fire department has made in improving its bookkeeping and operations.
Or is having the best possible police chief more important to the City than whatever secondary fire-related role might be included with the position? Are there downsides to waiting 4 months or longer to having a permanent police chief?
When KYMN Radio and Northfield Patch began sounding the alarm at around 6 am that one of the suspects had fired at police officers and fled, members of the Northfield Police Department assumed that citizens would respond in droves to help capture one of the suspects who was still at large and believed to be in the Sechler Park area.
By time the Northfield News began covering the story several hours later, gloom was apparent on the faces of the police officers on duty. “We had extra department staff ready to handle the flood of citizen volunteers by deputizing them and issuing them firearms,” said Taylor Marcus, Northfield’s Public Safety Director. “No one showed up. No one emailed. No one tweeted. We had no choice to but to call other law enforcement agencies for help. It was embarrassing.”
When the suspect was finally apprehended mid-morning, the Defeat of Jesse James Days and Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce boards of directors were already in an emergency joint session. “It’s a Category 4 public relations nightmare,” said Chamber Executive Director Marie Schmaltzy. “If word of this colossal failure of our citizens to respond gets out, we’re likely to see a devastating impact on attendance at DJJD next year.”
“I’m not surprised at all,” said Dewayne Reddy, DJJD board member. “Northfielders have essentially become a bunch of yellow-bellied, lily-livered, milk-toasted, panty-waisted wimp chickens. We’ve been riding on the courage of the town’s ancestors from the 1876 bank raid for over 100 years and we’re now morally bankrupt, no pun intended. It’s a sad day. I feel like turning in my spur.”
Noting that the weapon used in today’s robbery had not yet been found, KYMN radio’s Jim Friedman, organizer of the annual DJJD Horseshoe Hunt, said he would attempt to mobilize the citizenry in the morning to help find the suspect’s gun. When asked what he would do to motivate people to participate, Friedman said, “I haven’t got a clue.”
I exited the Goodbye Blue Monday yesterday morning at about 7:30 and, as always, paused and looked both ways before crossing the sidewalk (yes, the sidewalk) to check for anyone biking, as I was almost hit a couple of years ago. I then walked between two parallel parked cars, paused and looked left to see if any cars were coming, took one step onto Division St. and was hit by a bicyclist going the wrong way.
‘Hit’ is an exaggeration. As the young woman skidded to a stop, her front wheel and handlebars just made light contact with my body. I don’t remember if she apologized but I looked at her and said "Do you realize you’re riding on the wrong side of the street?" She flatly said ‘yes,’ got back on her bike, and continued riding south on Division on the wrong side of the street.
Two GBM patrons on the sidewalk looked at me and said something to the effect of "Wow, that was a close!" As I crossed the street towards my car, I noticed a Northfield Police car slowly coming south on Division. I motioned to the car and the officer pulled over and rolled down his window. "Did you see what just happened?" I asked. He smiled and said "Yeah, I saw that." I said "She needs to be disciplined!" He didn’t reply and pulled away.
I wondered whether he was going to pursue her. I saw him make a right turn on 4th St.so I got in my car, turned right on 4th, saw that Water St was blocked because of people setting up for Riverwalk Market Fair and assumed that he drove across the bridge. I did likewise and then saw him on Hwy 3, turning right on 2nd. So I don’t know if he caught up to her to issue a warning but it was clear that he didn’t issue a citation.
Later in the day when I was telling Robbie about the incident, it occurred to me that I should have asked the bicyclist why she was deliberately riding on the wrong side of the street. My guess is that she would have cited her fears of diagonally-parked cars on the west side of Division backing out into the street and running into her. And that’s something I wrote about back in early July, How to make bicycling in downtown Northfield safer and more popular? Sharrows might work.
More than 500 New York City residents are injured badly enough to be treated in hospitals after being struck by bicyclists each year, according to an analysis by Hunter College professors… Dr. Tuckel, a sociology professor, said these figures represent “the tip of the proverbial iceberg” because they only include pedestrians who wound up in the hospital. They do not include victims who visited their doctor’s office or a walk-in clinic for treatment.
For those of you snickering: 1) no, I’m not yet suffering from PTSD and expecting the City to provide me with CISD services; and 2) yes, it would have been more than a little ironic if she’d crashed hard into me and then cracked her skull on the pavement because she was not wearing a helmet.
Over the past year, the Police Department has received many complaints about bicyclists’ riding behavior in Edina. The primary complaint is that they are not stopping at stop signs and are dangerously weaving in and out of traffic. I have seen this first hand and have become very concerned for their safety and for the consequences of their dangerous travels… I have instructed my officers to begin ticketing bicycle riders that blatantly violate common traffic laws, just as we do with drivers of motor vehicles. This is considered a moving violation and will cost riders about $144.
No real progress since then, evidently. But it makes me glad that the City Council hasn’t approved the Streetscape Task Force’s request to spend $700,000 for another parking lot. The NDDC, the Chamber, and the Streetscape Task Force need to tackle the problem of chronic downtown parking violators first.
Low-income families and individuals will have any opportunity next week to get their pet spayed or neutered at a reduced cost. “This is the first time for us doing anything like this,” said Sheena Basness, a Northfield community services police officer involved in the clinic.
The clinic costs $25 for each pet that is spayed or neutered. The visit also includes a basic checkup. A basic neuter usually costs about $150 and a spay costs around $200, Basness said.
Robbie and I were returning from the Cities on Hwy 19 about 9 pm on Saturday night and noticed that the car in front of us was swerving erratically. When it crossed the centerline by about 3 feet with oncoming cars, we decided to report it via a call to 911.
Robbie gave the dispatcher (at the Pearl St. 911 Dispatch Center in Owatonna) the license plate #, car description, and our location and description of our car. Within a few seconds, they handed us over to a dispatcher in Northfield. As we entered Northfield, the dispatcher asked us if we were willing to continuing following the car, which turned out to be convenient as it was taking the same route as we were.
A Northfield Police Department squad car spotted us just after Jefferson Parkway and Hwy 3 and shortly afterward, followed the car into a neighborhood nearby.
Was the driver intoxicated, tired, on a cell phone? No clue. But we felt good that we’d done our civic duty and were pleased with the response by the local law enforcement people on duty.