Tag Archives: Northfield Police Department

Mark Murphy, one of Northfield’s finest, retires today. Party on Monday.

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 Murphy blogger Mark Murphy issuing citation 
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.

Sergeant Mark MurphyMark Murphy and colleagues buying, what else, doughnutsSuzette Taylor, Mark Taylor, Michelle Murphy, Mark Murphy

Mark Murphy personal parking spaceMark Murphy: undercover or just really plain clothes?Mark Murphy and grandsonMark Murphy DWI task force

See all of my blog posts here on LoGro that have involved Mark Murphy. And then get down to City Hall on Monday afternoon to say goodbye.  No need to be careful where you park.

Should the City wait till March to begin the process for hiring a police chief?

Northfield Safety CenterWith the Jan. 4th departure of Northfield Public Safety Director/Police Chief Mark Taylor (see the Dec. 28 rehash of the Dec. 6 story in the Nfld News), the Northfield City Council needs to decide if it should wait till the results of a fire services study by Emergency Service Consulting International (ESCI) are delivered in March. (See the Nov. 30 Nfld News Study will look at consolidating Northfield area fire services; also the June 12 2012 City Council meeting packet for background.)

The Dec. 18 Fbo Daily News editorial urges the City to wait:  Let’s see the results of the fire study before acting on Northfield Public Safety director

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?

Northfield citizens decline to help capture robbery suspect; severe impact on tourism feared

America's Best Value Inn & Suites - NorthfieldWhen the word of this morning’s robbery at America’s Best Value Inn & Suites on Hwy 3 began trickling out via police scanners, most Northfielders were sound asleep.

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.”

robberWhen 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.”

A wrong-way bicyclist on Division St. nearly mows me down

wrong-wayI 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.

Back in July, I published a blog post titled Ticketing law-breaking bicyclists: if Edina and NYC can do it, why can’t Northfield? in which I cited the problem of bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the street. I was glad to hear from Mark Taylor, Police Chief/Director of Public Safety who said that they would stepping up bicycle law enforcement. It’s perplexing to me why this cyclist was not issued a citation but I’ll see what I can find out.

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.

And see this Sept. 2011 NY Times article: Study Finds Higher Number of Pedestrians Hurt by Bikes.

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.

Ticketing law-breaking bicyclists: if Edina and NYC can do it, why can’t Northfield?

cop and bicyclistsIt bugs me when I see bicyclists A) zooming through Northfield-area stop signs in high traffic areas; B) riding on the wrong side of the street; and C) riding on sidewalks downtown. 

These behaviors both scare drivers and create animosity towards bicycling… and make it less likely that "share the road" efforts will gain broad public support.

In yesterday’s NY Times:  Penalty for Rule-Breaking Bicyclists: A Remedial Class

If there is one thing that unites New Yorkers who see bikes as a menace with others who view them as a mainstream form of urban transportation, it is a mutual distain for the lawbreaking cyclist.

I witnessed some close calls while visiting NYC last week, including one incident when a cyclist blasted through a red light and almost hit a pedestrian who then screamed profanities at him.

Back in May, Edina Police Chief Jeff Long blogged about the problem:

Edina Police Chief Jeff LongOver 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.

Does the Northfield Police Department ticket law-breaking bicyclists? I doubt it. I’ve never seen it happen. But it’s time to start.

Chronic downtown parking violators still a problem that no one is doing anything about

Issuing parking tickets in downtown Northfield Issuing parking tickets in downtown Northfield 
A community service officer intern for the Northfield Police Department was issuing parking tickets this afternoon along Division St.  He said he written up over a dozen in a couple of blocks.  

In May of 2011, I blogged: Do we need a downtown parking hall of shame?

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.

Sheena Basness wants you to know about the cheap spay/neuter clinic coming to Northfield on April 30th

Spay and Neuter flier - EnglishDSC08670  Spay and Neuter flier - Spanish 

Sheena Basness, Community Service Officer with the Northfield Police Department, stopped by my corner office at GBM last week to tell me about a cheap spay/neuter clinic on that’s coming to town on April 30, hosted by the Minnesota Spay Neuter Assistance Program (MNSNAP).

See the Spay and Neuter flier in English and in Spanish. You must pre-register. Call Shirley Taggart at 507-685-2393 to reserve a spot.

vet servicesSheena said there would also be some vet services available for a fee. See the image on the right.

More at Nfld Patch: Reduced-Price Spay and Neuter Clinic Coming to Northfield.

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.

Reporting an erratic driver: law enforcement does it right

Northfield PoliceRobbie 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.