Youth protest police profiling


  1. Dean Kjerland said:

    Power to the people!; and thanks Griff, ever the teaser. So, now, know who are you, and what is the complaint. Many of us don’t think Northfield has a major heroin problem, but believe any one victim is too many.

    I have no knowledge of the local police harassing anyone, my experience has been that the force is well trained and fair – few who are confronted by the police who are in ignorance of or are in deliberate violation of a law or ordinance tend to respond negatively (caught! why me!).

    However, all of us are (or should) be really pissed off if any of us are unfairly harassed or being disciminated against. Even one person. Any member of the police department doing the latter should be investigated and disciplined if guilty.

    So, again, how do you come to need to organize a protest and what is the case you make. I will strongly support you assuming you make your case. Thanks for the protest, thanks Griff for the coverage. Who will tell the story so we can join you and take action?

    Dean Kjerland

    August 25, 2007
  2. It wouldn’t be a great stretch for me to believe that the Northfield police are more suspicious of youth than older citizens, but is that unreasonable? That is, youth do commit crime in greater numbers. Is this any worse than an insurance company awarding a better rate to a teen with a high GPA than one with lower marks? (That is, insurers’ numbers would tell them that the teen with lower grades is more likely to be an accident — the police know [through presumably less formal means] that a youth is more likely to commit crime than Citizen Doe.)

    But my bigger question is this: what have the police done? I see one of the signs states “KNOW YOUR RIGHTS — DON’T BE A VICTIM.” What rights are being violated here? I don’t pose this question to discredit the protest, I genuinely want to know. A quick search at the Northfield News reveals that the last letter to the editor to use the term “profiling” was in 2005 and completely unrelated.

    So just what are the Northfield Police doing that’s so offensive?

    August 25, 2007
  3. Nick Sinclair said:

    It’s nice to see overprivileged kids complaining about the almost “movie set” town they live in. I know some of the kids who were there, and they are nice people. They have so many advantages here in Northfield that other kids in other towns do not have, like two major colleges, The Key, and ARTech. After reading the underage drinking report from the News, it would seem that the police are doing their job.

    August 25, 2007
  4. Ruth Amerman said:

    I’d like to say that I’m very proud of my brother and everyone else who chose to protest on friday. There is a herion problem in northfield, no one is trying to say that this isn’t true. But just because a small group of kids choose to do herion, doesn’t mean all the youth in town has, and its wrong for them to be treated like they are. There has been many times in the past few weeks where youth have been stopped and harassed by some of the police in town for no other reason then the fact that they’re age is, or looks to be, between 15 and 20. The youth aren’t angry at the police, they aren’t blaming them for anything, they just want to be treated fairly.

    Good Police,
    Bad Policies

    We need to work on strengthening the relationship between the cops and the youth in town, thats something I’ve said from the beginning. Nothings going to be solved if we don’t start working together.

    August 25, 2007
  5. Josh Hinnenkamp said:

    First off: shame on Sean Hayford O’Leary’s comments that youth commit more crimes than adults. Is that true? Can you back that up? Does corporate and government crime count? Or does it only count when tennis balls get stolen out of your garage? Youth want to be heard – is that so wrong? You don’t have to agree with that they say, but don’t dismiss them in a condescending way. If you are serious about wanting to know about what rights have been violated please email me at and I will be happy to pass questions along to a couple of those at the protest.

    I don’t know if the youth were right in having a protest on Bridge Square, but I do know that it is their right. From talking to youth at The Key I can say that there does seem to be some cases of age profiling and this has been highly escalated of late. Will this solve the drug and alcohol problem or will it create suspicion, distrust, and hate for the local police force? Cops should bust house parties where underage people are drinking – it is their job (no one should celebrate them for doing their job). But unless there is some transparency with the youth, which includes dialog and building up a relationship, I see little that this band-aid approach can fix.

    And in reference to Nick who writes about “overprivileged kids”, well thanks for stereotyping them: youth love that.

    August 25, 2007
  6. First off: shame on Sean Hayford O’Leary’s comments that youth commit more crimes than adults. Is that true? Can you back that up?

    I must have omitted those comprehensive statistics of Northfield’s criminal goings-on. Oh, right, there are none.

    I base that generalization on the personal experience of being a teen in Northfield. An enormous number of teens engage in illegal substance abuse. And I would challenge to tell me otherwise with a straight face. This doesn’t mean they’re fundamentally bad people or that they deserve to be harassed, but if the police happen to be a bit more suspicious of us than older folks, it seems reasonable enough.

    I don’t know if the youth were right in having a protest on Bridge Square, but I do know that it is their right.

    I don’t dispute their right to protest, but I just think they may have jumped the gun. Why were their no letters to the editor or other civil complaints? The Key members have used methods like letters to the editor in the past, correct?

    August 25, 2007
  7. Ruth,
    For some reason, your comment didn’t show up earlier, so I hadn’t seen it when I commented last.

    Thank you for your diplomatic words. And you were a bit more specific, but I’m still left wondering what is harassment? Just being asked what you’re up to by a cop? Being followed? Or do these sorts of things have to happen repeatedly?

    Basically, what’s the line — even a blurry one — between police being cautious and harassment?

    August 25, 2007
  8. Josh Hinnenkamp said:

    This was NOT a Key protest and in no way was it sponsored by The Key. But because I work for The Key I do know about youth events that occur in our community.

    I have heard of a letter to the editor that was to be written for today’s or Wednesday’s Northfield News, but do not know if it has been in print yet.

    As far as jumping the gun goes, maybe you are right, maybe you are wrong. I did not protest and have not heard all the reasons from the protestors. But I do know that reasons I have heard, previous to the protest, seem to imply an escalation in profiling youth. Profiling youth is jumping the gun, much more so that a protest. I don’t wish to have an endless argument in which we will probably never see eye to eye, but will say that the police can and should do a better job in forming a relationship with the community of Northfield. Until that happens youth with negative opinions on cops in Northfield and cops in general will not change. In fact, we may see a deepening seed of mistrust and fear.

    Profiling is still profiling: whether it be race, age, sex, religion, and sexual orientation. It is wrong.

    August 25, 2007
  9. john george said:

    It seems I heard about an incident in the recent past about a group of young people, who had been drinking, that were stopped as they were walking down the street. If I’m incorrect on this, please set me straight. Anyway, there must have been something to arrouse the suspicion of the investigating officer. How many of you think that inebriation is not evident? There is an old saying that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. I would offer that the analogy fits a group of people who have been drinking. In fact, public inebriation is not limited to young people. It doesn’t matter how old they are, it is against the law. I would like to hear the other side of this story.

    I would also like to address the idea of “rights”. In the constitution, we are gauranteed the right of unlawful search or seizure. But, does this apply to somone who is evidently breaking the law? I don’t think so. The laws of this country are written to protect and cover the people who follow them. If you choose to walk outside the law, you are not going to be protected. You are going to be arrested.

    I have been concerned with a trend I see in some youth this country. There seems to be an attitude in some that they can do whatever they please without any consequences. This seems to spill over into many areas. Young children are, I think, hurried into adulthood too soon. They are dressed too old for their age. They are given freedoms before they have been taught or gained a level of maturity to handle the responsibilities of the freedoms.

    One example I see is in the whole area of sex education. There is an assumption that young people are going to engage in sexual behavior, so we need to teach them how to “protect” themselves so they don’t have to face the consequences of it. Now we are seeing sexual activity in pre-middle school age children! I don’t hear of many paernts actually teaching their children NOT to have sex. In fact, too many parents of teenagers I talk to want to be their teenager’s friend. They don’t need any more friends. They need a father or mother who is not afraid to stand up to them and tell them, “No!”

    There has been a theory in raising young children that goes something like this: Don’t put limits on them lest you somehow squelch their creativity. I raised 5 children, and I can tell you from experience- they don’t need their creativity stimulated. They need it channeled. That is done by putting age appropriate limits on them and giving them specific directions. Some of the most stupid actions on the part of parents that I have seen is listening to them try to reason with a toddler! They don’t respond to reason at that age. They respond to firm, consistent direction. If you don’t get through to your child by the time he/she is 3 or 4 years old, you most certainly will not get through to them in their teens.

    All you young people protesting being “profiled”, I ask you, were you indeed drinking? And if so, why on earth do you think you should be able to get away with it? And I would encourage anyone who knows of someone providing alcohol for these teens, report them! They are not only breaking the law, they are poisoning these kids, just as sure as if they were mixing rat poison into their cokes!

    August 25, 2007
  10. Dean Kjerland said:

    John, please point out to me where in the State law is says ‘public inebriation’ is against the law? That is too simple an argument, even in this important issue. I didn’t get past that part of your blog, because of that stopper. I asked the protesters to tell us their story. Lets hear it; pontification can come later, but, I suspect any dialog is going to have to be based on facts and grievances which are related to their specific protest; I for one will stand with them, then, not offer my ‘old man’s platitudes. Dean Kjerland

    August 26, 2007
  11. I talked with one of the protesters tonight and she informed me that one of the group members would post some of the reasons for the protest soon. So I’ll hold off until then.

    I don’t wish to have an endless argument in which we will probably never see eye to eye.

    Wait… isn’t that the point of this site?

    Full disclosure: I’m a volunteer for Locally Grown. And I’m just teasing.

    August 26, 2007
  12. john george said:

    Dean- Thank you, I stand corrected. If you look at the State of Mn. Statutes, section 340A.902, a person cannot be prosecuted for public drunkeness. This is not the case in every state, and I was responding from my experience in the state I used to live in. If you look at 340A.90, underage consumption of alcohol is illegal. I will stick to the case in point, here. This was a group of underage persons who had been drinking, and that is illegal. They got busted. Instead of protesting this, I would be more impressed with them if they had come out and said, “Sorry, folks. We broke the law. We will try to adhere to it now and wait until we are of legal drinking age.”

    August 26, 2007
  13. john george said:

    Dean- Thank you for the correction. According to the Mn Statutes, 340A.902, a person cannot be prosecuted for public drunkeness. I stand corrected. Statute #340A.90 does state that it is illegal to consume alcohol if you are under the age of 21. I will stick to the issue at hand. This group had been drinking, so they had broken the law. In doing this, they are taking themselves out from under the protection of the law. They got busted. I would be more impressed if they had come out and said, “Sorry. We were drinking. We will try to adhere to the law until we are 21.” Instead, they appear to be ducking responsibility for their actions and are blaming police for “profiling” them. I will stick to my duck analogy in my first post.

    Note. I had put in one post responding to this, and for some reason it did not come up. Probably operator problems on my part. If the other post appears, this is the reason it appears as a double post.

    August 26, 2007
  14. Ray Cox said:

    Regarding being drunk in public, if you are not doing anything else, you are fine in Minnesota. We eliminated laws against public drunkeness some time ago. But, when police stop folks like this there is often something else going on. Many times the police find open bottle violations, damage to property, public urination, etc.

    I have another question that I’d like people to weigh in on. Nancy said in an earlier post:

    “There is a herion problem in northfield, no one is trying to say that this isn’t true.”

    Others have said even one heroin user is too much. I agree. Why then do we have the School Superintendent on the front page of the News saying the school district will not use drug dogs to check school property for drugs? Faribault and other area schools have used drug dogs for years and had very good results keeping things in check. Why would school professionals not want to use the tools at their disposal to keep schools safe and drug free?

    Help me understand this folks.

    August 26, 2007
  15. Josh Hinnenkamp said:

    Because drugs and dogs just don’t mix.

    Ray, are we talking about dogs sniffing down hallways and lockers when they are in the classrooms? Do you mean lockdowns in which drug dogs are allowed in the classrooms to sniff individuals as well? What would dogs be looking for? Alcohol? Heroin? Cocaine? Marijuana? Tobacco? PCP? NC-17 Movies? What exactly is meant by “drug dogs to check school property for drugs?” You were talking about the prison system, right? Just kidding.

    While technically legal, the ACLU has been taking up a legal leadership role in curbing, what they would feel, “violations to a student’s constitutional rights.” What they mainly have been fighting, with some success, are the random searches that aren’t specifically oriented toward an individual or individuals. In other words, those searches that targets everyone as a suspect.

    What is so very wrong with developing a positive relationship between youth and the police of this town? Drug dogs would not be a step in the right direction (the exact opposite). Doesn’t anyone understand that many (if not most) youth would detest this idea? Do you really want to create more mistrust and further divide the line between youth and police?

    I am all for a safe school and keeping drugs out of the school, but I think drug dogs send a wrong message. Why not keep searches at public schools consistent with constitutional protections? This way students can get first hand experience with more than just law theory, but law in action.

    Enough with the band-aid and “let’s just get em'” approach. We need trust, prevention, and an intergenerational approach. Anything less is “just a quick fix.”

    August 26, 2007
  16. kiffi summa said:

    Even though I have no school age kids and never had kids in this school system, I would feel the schools were letting their principle constituents, their STUDENTS, down…….Big Time.. if they put dogs in the schools.

    First of all, the schools try to be sensitive to the age group they are dealing with, and trust is a big part of that issue. The kids themselves say that no one would keep drugs in their locker, many, maybe most, kids never use their lockers; some seniors say they have never used their lockers and don’t even know where they are!

    Kids who have “drugs” in school would keep them on their person, knowing that a personal search could only occur with strong probable cause.

    The community adults must get real on this subject.

    It is not only kids who use drugs. The key is equal enforcement , on all levels, and that goes from stopping cars to check licenses, to going for the dealers, WITHOUT a lot of excuses like” the investigation is not quite complete”. Get the investigation complete. Or if you can’t yet, go after the dealer with what you have and make them realize this community does not want to go easy on them.

    For the sake of honesty, all adults, would you, at age 14-18, wanted to spend your day in an environment of suspicion, complete with metal detectors, police at every door, and drug dogs in the halls? You, as adults, don’t spend your day in such an oppressive environment; Why would you wish that on our kids?

    August 26, 2007
  17. You know I have to agree with Josh on this one. The idea of bringing drug-sniffing dogs into school is really repugnant.

    How about before we resort to treating teenagers like prisoners, we give comprehensive drug education a shot? This came up on the heroin thread too, if I recall, and it has serious potential to make a difference. Ditch D.A.R.E.

    For the sake of honesty, all adults, would you, at age 14-18, wanted to spend your day in an environment of suspicion, complete with metal detectors, police at every door, and drug dogs in the halls? You, as adults, don’t spend your day in such an oppressive environment; Why would you wish that on our kids?

    Exactly. The goal of a school is to educate kids, not search and question them.

    August 26, 2007
  18. When I was a youth myself (~16yrs old) I was once walking around a public area in the evening (about 10PM if I remember correctly) with some buddies. We were rousted by the local constabulary and asked to provide identification. Nothing serious, and we just showed ’em our licenses and that was that. When I got home and told my dad (a real Goldwater-Republican conservative type) he was pretty ticked off. “You were just walking in public, there was no reason for you to have to prove who you were. They had no right to ask you for ID.” That was how he reacted then, and that is how I react now. The Bill of Rights is not just for academics. Being able to control your temper and politely claim your rights is fundamental to a free society. Protection of our rights is not just the job of those of us who took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution (e.g., the military fighting oversees), it is everyone’s job. And freedom is a right that requires calm and reasoned exercise daily.

    August 26, 2007
  19. Anne Bretts said:

    Sadly, I’m old enough to remember when guys who had Beatle haircuts were targeted, and then kids with tattoos, or long hair, or tight pants, or baggy pants. If only it were that easy. Seniors overmedicate, parents drink and drive and some cops and doctors and priests end up in rehab or jail.
    Since drug use is illegal at any age, maybe we need the police and their dogs doing an occasional lap through EconoFoods or Blue Monday or Just Foods. Would I mind? Perhaps on a George Orwell slippery slope into tyranny level, sure I’m opposed. I’m more opposed because I don’t think it’s a very effective method of catching major criminals.
    On the other hand, I hate taking my shoes off in the airport and standing in lines and going through the metal detector, but I get the argument about needing some safety in common public areas. Do they catch a lot of terrorists? Probably not. Is it a deterrant? I hope so.
    See, my point is that this seems to breaking down into another effort to determine right and wrong positions. A lot of life is about finding uncomfortable compromises to deal with lousy situations. Drug use is a lousy thing. If the schools use dogs, parents and students complain. If they don’t and a kid overdoses in school, parents and students complain — and sue — for not providing a safe environment.
    Fine, bust parties so drunks don’t get in their cars and drive and parents get the proof they need to bust the alibis of their cunning young tricksters. Use dogs in school if there’s a credible threat. Then take them down to the campuses and every bar where those who got outside to smoke aren’t just being polite.

    August 26, 2007
  20. john george said:

    Josh- This concept of “…violations to a student’s constitutional rights” concept sounds really good on the outside. I ask you, are there young people using this smoke screen to try to get away with unlawful activity?

    I want to throw this postulate out as a point of discussion. Do we Americans have “rights” or do we have “privileges?” I have traveled to foreign countries, and, compared to most of them, we get off pretty good. Do you have a right to use drugs in school? If not, how is this to be enforced? Since many students keep these on their posession, how are these people to be weeded out? Is there any type of effective peer pressure program to get these kids back in line?

    For the parents, I ask- how do you respond to your kids being stopped for illegal substance use? Do you try to “get them off” or do you follow through and make them face the consequences? The concept of relationship between youth and authority starts in the home. If there has not been a respect of authority fostered in the home, how do you expect your kids to properly respond to authority in the community?

    I’m not sure we can come up with a simplistic solution that fits every situation, but there must be some foundational policy that can be implimented to handle the individual cases that come up. As far as “profiling” people, there has to be some guidelines as to what public behavior makes a person suspicious and what does not. I think Ray touched on this in his post. As far as putting drug sniffing dogs in the school, if this method has been an effective preventitive in other schools, I think we need to at least take a look at it. This may be repugnant, but so is identifying an overdose victim in a morg.

    Sean, you suggested to give “comprehensive drug education a shot.” How is the present drug education not comprehensive? It seems I hear about all this “education” on substance abuse, and it doesn’t appear to be having a widespread effect. Education needs to be followed up with consistent enforcement to really work.

    August 26, 2007
  21. John,
    Guilty until proven innocent? Suggesting that if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t object to searches is inconsistent with America’s most fundamental idea of search and seizure:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    And how would you feel if the police started sending drug sniffing dogs into people’s homes under the justification that if you’re not doing drugs, you shouldn’t oppose it? Yes a school is a public place, but I think there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy in one’s locker.

    By “comprehensive drug education,” I guess I just mean “honest drug education.” I may be mistaken, but the general impression I got from the heroin thread was that Northfield Public Schools is continuing D.A.R.E.-style drug education, complete with its lies and exaggerations. See

    Also, for a more humorous approach, take a look at this PSA (also originally from the heroin thread):

    August 26, 2007
  22. john george said:

    Sean- I still don’t see a corolation between stopping these teens and “guilty until proven innocent.” Ray Cox said in his post, “…when police stop folks like this there is often something else going on.” If an officer sees a car being driven erratically, there is probable cause to stop the car and investigate the driver. This not a case of “guilty until proven innocent.” It is a case of guilty because the driver is guilty. That is why I said in my earlier post that I would like to hear the other side. If it walks like a drunk (Oops! duck)….

    One thing that no one has brought up here is the concept of trust. Is trust an inalienable right or is it something to be earned?

    August 26, 2007
  23. What Ray wrote is that we should have drug-sniffing dogs on the entire school. If a school has reasonable suspicion that a kid is keeping drugs in his locker (“reasonable” being, say, two or more staff members in regular contact with the student holding the suspicion), I don’t have a problem with the school searching it. It is the school’s property, after all.

    What I do have a problem with is searching everyone‘s lockers, since for the vast majority of kids, the search would not be reasonable.

    August 27, 2007
  24. Josh Hinnenkamp said:


    We come from two different backgrounds and I can sum it up pretty quick. I was taught to question authority – ask questions, don’t always assume someone is right or knows what’s best. There are bad parents, bad cops, bad teachers, bad government officials. And even good ones aren’t right all the time. We should all question authority a little (or maybe a lot and these days maybe even all the time). This does not mean the middle finger and a curse word, but a conversation that can at least lead to respect for a difference in opinion.

    I am starting with Ray’s assumption that drug dogs are effective in schools. Just because Ray Cox said this does not make it so (though I think Ray is an intelligent fellow). Even if Ray is correct that it is effective in Faribault does that mean it will be effective in Northfield? Also what does effective mean? If the point is to find drugs in the lockers it probably is effective. But then the big picture has been lost. If the point is to prevent people from dealing and buying drugs it is NOT effective. They will do so elsewhere, maybe even still at the school. I would feel much better if we did what Sean suggests, and that is honest drug education. A good relationship (which I keep harping about) between youth and cops would also helps things considerably. Drug dogs will not stop people from using; it will just cause people to be more careful about using. Just like busting house parties will not prevent youth from drinking. It will just bring it a little more underground. That doesn’t mean I don’t think we should bust house parties or bust youth that are obviously under the influence at school. But when you focus on this you lose sight of what is really important: preventing youth from using drugs.

    Back to Drug Dogs:
    The Supreme Court gets us closer and closer to a police state (slight overreaction here, only slight). Check out this link (below) about drug dogs and searches. Not specific to schools, but scary nonetheless. Read the whole thing because it gets juicy again at the bottom. ACLU – where you at?

    August 27, 2007
  25. A good relationship (which I keep harping about) between youth and cops would also helps things considerably.

    Josh, can teens and cops ever really have a good relationship? Youth will always drink and will always use drugs (hopefully this will exist in moderation, but it will never disappear). And for the foreseeable future, both will be illegal. It’s a pretty fundamental conflict that will always create an environment of distrust.

    Where I think trust really comes into play is — you guessed it — drug education. Kids might not be able to trust police officers, but they should at least be able to trust their teachers. It’s probably the most fundamental problem of D.A.R.E. style programs:

    1. Billy Smith learns in class that marijuana makes you addicted to meth instantly
    2. A few years later, Billy is at a party and tries pot. He wakes up the next morning and by some miracle, he does not have an insatiable urge for meth, heroin, or even cocaine.
    3. Billy realizes that his drug ed class was a load of crap, discards his belief in the whole thing and continues to try more and more extreme drugs, not realizing that the warnings he learned about those drugs were legitimate.
    4. Billy actually does become a meth head.

    Of course I’m exaggerating, but the basic process happens all the time. I’ve seen it happen to some of my own friends.

    That is not effective drug education.

    August 27, 2007
  26. Ray Cox said:

    Lots of good comments on drug dogs…thanks folks. While on the school board for so many years I wrestled with privacy issues from time to time. We have also had clarification from the Supreme Court about privacy expectations in a public school locker, etc.

    My thought is that done properly, drug dogs should have much to offer school authorities. I’d much prefer to have a drug dog do his/her work instead of having officers stand there and paw through lockers. Dogs move very quickly, do their work out of sight of students, and from what I understand, are very thorough and accurate.

    As I said earlier, Faribault and other area schools have had good results with dogs.

    I think there has to be a concerted effort to keep drug use to a minimum, if not eliminate it altogether. No one is served by it. I have no idea about the amount of drugs being used by high school students and wonder if anyone does. When I read about the Superintendents quick denial about drug use and numbers I wonder if denial is part of the problem we are facing.

    August 27, 2007
  27. Curt Benson said:

    Ray, I was also really disappointed with the school’s early response. Sara Shippy says that 15 high school students were treated for heroin/oxy problems during the 2006/2007 school year and that she believes there are some 60 students involved. Yet the school did nothing to notify parents or the community of the problem. (I believe Shippy says she notified Police Chief Smith when the problem was emerging, but he did nothing until the blogosphere forced his hand, and when according to Smith’s numbers, 150 to 250 young people were involved.) Perhaps earlier notification would have prompted earlier treatment in some of the people involved, or slowed the growth of the problem.

    Ironically, I remember when my kids were in grade school and there was an occasional outbreak of head lice. Kids in the affected classrooms were sent home with notes. Yet, a heroin outbreak is apparently not deemed noteworthy.

    That said, I think the school really is taking the problem seriously now and that the ideas that are going to be presented at the school board meeting tonight are good ones.

    I’d like to add a couple ideas for the school to consider. I think the parents of every student in the Northfield system should get a written pamphlet explaining what has been happening with this problem here, and list of resources available for help. Also, I’d like to see a community meeting at the school addressing the problem, explaining the school’s response and asking for suggestions. I’d like to see Carol Falkowski speak at this meeting.

    I know this link has been posted and discussed before on Locally Grown, but here it is again for those who may have missed it. It’s Carol Falkowski on MPR:

    August 27, 2007
  28. Nick Sinclair said:

    Wow this place got serious. Maybe overprivileged was the wrong word, how about fortunate. They are very fortunate to live where they do and when they protest where they live it rubs me the wrong way. The advantages they have available to them over kids in other town are great. They have every right to protest, but that also invites criticism and that’s what I did. I have no fancy websites to direct you to, or any federal documents to cite, just my opinion.

    August 27, 2007
  29. john george said:

    The whole idea of parental notification seems to fly in the face of “student rights”. Unfortunately, I think this “rights” doctorine has done more to inhibit healthy communication than foster it. That is just my opinion and, no, I don’t have empirical evidence of it.

    Josh- I taught my kids the proper way to “question” authority and appeal to it. There is a proper way to do it. I would be glad to sit down with you face to face sometime and explain it. I’m not sure it is a proper task to take on in this blog. I don’t believe that rebelion and protests are an effective way to resolve conflict. They just indicate that there is conflict. I still believe that everyone thinks critical thinking (questioning) is fine until it is their own thinking that is getting critical analysis.

    August 27, 2007
  30. Dean Kjerland said:

    Oh, for Pete’s sake…The original post was a picture of some citizens protesting what Griff indicated was ‘profiling’…seems it would be interesting to learn from the protesters specifically ‘who’s doing what to whom’…then everyone can either continue to babble on about whatever or perhaps focus on and contribute to the specific issue… Dean Kjerland

    August 27, 2007
  31. john george said:

    Dean- Good point. I can see some overlap between this blog ond the one about ZAP. Does this protest foster communication or not?

    August 27, 2007
  32. Josh Hinnenkamp said:

    Once again I will make the point no one wishes to address. Drug Dogs will not stop or even mitigate drug use by youth. It will bust people at school but not slow down use or abuse. Just like busting house parties will not stop or even slow down underage drinking. Youth will just find another place to do this. I do think that house parties should be busted and that youth who are OBVIOUSLY under the influence at school should be busted (not via dog). But this loses sight of the big picture. Unless your philosophy is to bust and arrest everyone that we can, then we need to think about something else. Changing drug education (and making it more honest) will help. Plenty of ideas have come out The Key’s drug action meetings and even a supposed drug action committee (which I will pass along if I ever get the info). Developing ANY kind of relationship with youth and the cops will also help.

    Ray – I still don’t know what you mean by “good results” with drug dogs. Good results means more busts I assume? Well that’s obvious. More busts doesn’t mean less use. And, just to add to your statement that area schools have had good results, I can also say that many schools throughout the country have had BAD results and have had to eliminate drug dogs from their school.

    John – protesting is a basic right we all have. I have found it very effective. Throughout our history this is how mass movements voice their opinion. The civil rights movement was won in part because of protesting. Resolving conflict is important, but must come both ways. If cops don’t make an effort and youth don’t make an effort, then we have a problem. Don’t just blame the youth for this lack of harmony.

    I am also wondering if we will see a response from a protester. I have been told something will be written, but like you, have seen nothing yet.

    August 27, 2007
  33. john george said:

    Josh- Protests are one way opinions are voiced. Editorials, public discussions, voting, for that matter, are other ways opinions are expressed. I agree that protesting is a way get things moving. I don’t know the inside issues of all the people involved in the protest, though I do know one person. Perhaps they have not gotten a response from their parents (my speculation).

    How about putting the shoe on the other foot? How many parents out there would be willing to “protest” their young people’s behavior and refusal to listen to them? I can see the placards now: “My Son Won’t Listen!”, “Wasteful Use Of The Money I Give Him!”, “Won’t Even Pick Up His Room!”, “Uses My Car All The Time And Won’t Buy Gas!”

    You also said, “Resolving conflict is important, but must come both ways. If cops don’t make an effort and youth don’t make an effort, then we have a problem.” This is the real crux of the matter. Now, how do we get this forum going?

    August 27, 2007
  34. Bjorn Norgaard said:

    First of all I need to apologize. I was one of the culprits for starting the protest, and I was not aware until recently that it had stirred up the bee hive so much. I guess I will try to explain the past couple of weeks and our actions here.

    I guess the very beginning of this started with the press release and Star Tribune article, and after that a noticeble increase in police activity, especially after dark. At first I was glad to see the increased enforcement to combat the heroin problem, but instead of hearing about heroin busts all I heard from my friends was them being pulled over by cops for simply biking at night, or loitering outside of Blue Monday when they closed.

    This all became very close to home about a week ago when myself and three of my friends decided to have a few beers(yes we are underage) and walk down town to get a pizza. We crossed a street and cut through a backyard, and upon getting on the sidewalk were pulled over under suspicion of burglary. Knowing that we had not committed burglary we gladly handed our I.D’s over to the police officer, and were then sadly informed that we would be getting breathalized. While dissapointed we all accepted our punishment and lined up on the sidwalk. Then three more squad cars were called in. Before we knew it we were surrounded by eight police officers, all for four college buddies who decided to have a few beers and walk down town.

    Once again I have to reiterate that we are not upset that we recieved minors, we were upset at the excessive police force that was used and we felt that it was a waste of resources. When this happened and after we had heard of accounts all summer of kids who have been pulled over under assumptions of burglary, or heroin use, or a number of other interogations we decided to do something.

    We held the protest to raise awareness in the community that kids are being profiled, and often unfairly. If the police had released a statement saying they were going to crack down on bikers, walkers, loitering, and drinking then I would be much more understanding. But the police said they were going to target heroin. I hoped that would have meant dealers and users, not the rest of the youth who happen to be out after dark.

    Once again sorry this took a while to get up. This is an excellent town and I am thankful and privelaged to have grown up here and I believe the amount of community involvement and discussion has a lot to do with that. I’m not sure if I will be returning to Northfield next summer, but I hope that the youth of this town will be able to enjoy it as much as I did without the suspicion of being a criminal.

    Thank You, Bjorn Norgaard

    August 27, 2007
  35. john george said:

    Bjorn- Thanks for the honest post. I really appreciate your demonstration of maturity! You exemplified that moreso than a number of adults I know, unfortunately. There is a proverb that goes something like this- A word of correction goes deeper into a man of understanding than ten blows on a fool. You are going to go far in life.

    As far as the police “warning” everyone that they were going to crack down on offenders, I’m not sure they need to make that announcement. After all, they are called “law enforcement” officers. I would agree that 8 officers on 4 college kids is a little overkill, but maybe it had been a boring shift. You can’t fault them for all wanting to get in on the excitement (Ha, ha).

    I will throw one more thing into the bees’ nest with something you brought up. I would appreciate it if police would crack down on a few bikers around town. I often am startled by bikers that do not signal turns and do not stop at stop signs. I’m not talking about the 10 & 12 year olds. I’m talking about the ones with grey hair that seem to think they can behave like a pedestrian on the street just because their vehicle doesn’t have a motor. But that is another blog subject.

    Josh- I’ve been thinking about your comment, “I was taught to question authority – ask questions, don’t always assume someone is right or knows what’s best. There are bad parents, bad cops, bad teachers, bad government officials. And even good ones aren’t right all the time. We should all question authority a little (or maybe a lot and these days maybe even all the time).” I’m sorry you have had bad experiences in your past with authority figures. It is apparent to me that those experiences have tainted your approach to all authority (“…maybe even all the time.”) Tell me, isn’t this a type of profiling, when you judge all authority as bad? Just wondering your opinion. You express yourself very well.

    August 27, 2007
  36. Bjorn, I liked what you wrote. Are you considering writing (or have you already written) that experience in a letter to the editor? It would be helpful for more than just Locally Grown readers to get the story behind the protest.

    Though I agree that eight officers is way excessive, the example could be construed as a positive thing for profiling: that is, they were suspicious of you because you were youth out at night, and — as it turned out — you were doing something illegal.

    I often am startled by bikers that do not signal turns and do not stop at stop signs.

    In all fairness, John, I don’t know a single bicyclist who treats a stop sign as anything more than a yield sign 😉

    August 27, 2007
  37. Josh Hinnenkamp said:

    Bjorn, thanks for the honest response. I also agree with Sean that a letter to the editor for Northfield would be wise as well. I do think that it might be more effective for your case if the letter was written by someone who hadn’t been busted by the cops recently (or even better, never been busted). I do agree that the force was a little excessive, but I’ve seen 4 squad cars bust a skateboarder (for simply skating on the sidewalk downtown). Your situation isn’t going to get a lot of sympathy with people, though I think your case does have merit (I have others who have not been busted tell me about problems they have had or witnessed).

    John, you misunderstand what I am saying. I have had good and bad experiences with authority, like most of us have. My parents did a wonderful job teaching me to question authority. I don’t think all authority is bad (as you assume), I just don’t assume they (authority figures) are always correct. I question it, do a little research on a claim, and find out if I agree with the claim or not. That doesn’t mean I question everything authority says or does, but those that I think could be wrong. (Sometimes I miss things and sometimes I find out they were right after all). This could be a teacher, a police officer, a politician, my parents, a journalist, or even non-authority figures. I find out that people are wrong a lot of the time, which makes me a wiser person to know this. Imagine if I believed all the wrong things I’ve been told. I don’t think this is profiling, I think this is sensible. I only wish to obtain the truth. Just because someone has a title it doesn’t make them right. It is my job to question things if I believe them to be wrong. Otherwise I am just a sheep. And I ain’t no sheep. The comment about “maybe all the time” was a subtle political reference and I will leave out the politics. So, apologies for that.

    P.S. bikers? are you guys nuts? I think I worry a little more about crazy drivers

    August 28, 2007
  38. john george said:

    Josh- Thanks for responding, and in a clear way. This really helps me understand better where you are coming from. I have run across people in the past who seem to question authority just because it IS authority. I admit, this is a holdover from my experiences with war protesters in the late ’60s & early ’70s. Forgive me for projecting this attitude onto you. Your questioning is not of the authority but actions the authority does, if I’m hearing you correctly. This is healthy for any society.

    As far as drivers vs. bicyclers, I don’t think the problem lies in what type of vehicle a person is on or in. The problem lies in a casual attitude toward traffic laws. These laws are put into place for our protection and the protection of others. When we choose to ignore or disobey them, we are creating a dangerous situation. It reminds me a little of a jibe one of my fishing buddies throws out when he sees an officer stopped with a speeder, “He ought to be out catching crimminals instead of harrassing some poor innocent speeder!” (As if any lawbreaker is innocent.) Unfortunately, our society shows tendancies of moving toward anarchy. Your generation is going to be very instrumental in either stemming this tide or increasing it.

    Just a reaction to the many officers that seem to respond to an infraction. I remember when we first moved to Northfield, and I was reading the police report in the News. One entry was, “…a dead cat was reported on Hwy. 3…” I’m still laughing over that one! What big excitement for the town!

    August 28, 2007
  39. I know this is a tangent, but John, I had to point out my personal favorite from the Northfield police log, from this past October:

    “Two men were reported walking and carrying shoes in the 200 block of Greenvale Avenue. Officers made contact with the men.”

    And anarchy? Isn’t that a tad dramatic? After all, 80 years ago there were far fewer traffic regulations and one would hardy call it an anarchist society. Josh makes a good point, too. On a bicycle, the worst someone can do is hurt themselves, give a driver a scare, or maybe lightly injure a pedestrian. Now put that person in a Suburban.

    August 28, 2007
  40. john george said:

    Sean- Great example! I return to my earlier observation- maybe it was a boring shift. Also, there are no details about the “suspects” carrying the shoes. Maybe they were just not “well heeled”! (I know! There is nothing like a good joke…)

    As far as anarchy goes, it doesn’t matter how many laws are on the books. Anarchists refuse to submit to a central authority, namely, government. They choose to do whatever they feel like, in spite of how it may affect others. This and “self” focus, as opposed to “common good” focus, can really erode the cement that holds societies together.

    The point on the bicyclists is accurate. I still contend that it doesn’t matter what you drive or ride, the traffic laws apply to you if you are using the street right-of-way. And, I also have had TOO MANY close calls with Suburbans and Hummers. My first referal to bicyclists was a response to a comment that Bjorn made. I think he was inferring a “look the other way” attitude with law enforcement regarding them. I thought he had a good point.

    August 28, 2007
  41. Ross Currier said:


    My understanding of Anarchism is not

    “As far as anarchy goes, it doesn’t matter how many laws are on the books. Anarchists refuse to submit to a central authority, namely, government. They choose to do whatever they feel like, in spite of how it may affect others.”

    but that, like Libertarianism, the effort is to decentralize decision-making as much as possible.

    Although not an expert on the subject, I would envision this balance of decision-making power along the lines of local people deciding where infrastructure expenditures are most needed, as opposed to someone sitting in an office in Washington, D. C., and that there would be some basic national standards for the civil rights of blacks, reds, Jews, Muslims, gays, and lesbians, as opposed to having these standards set by a group of white, Christians in Birmingham, Alabama.

    Just my thoughts,


    August 28, 2007
  42. kiffi summa said:

    I can no longer refrain from asking this question/making this comment…………….it seems to me, JG, that no matter which thread you comment on, the comment takes on the nature of seeking “transformation”. Am I reading something into this? Are you the designated spokesperson for a particular point of view? Am I assuming too much by adding on to that thought your first name familiarity with the “prayer ladies”, and others close to, if not involved with, that religious persuasion?

    I understand that a person in town who has tried repeatedly to contact the “prayer ladies” , and not had any calls returned, finally received a call from a MAN who had been designated to contact the caller, and who described the “prayer ladies” as being “victimized” by the public attention, and
    then entered into a “duel” of scripture quotes.

    I guess my bottom line question is: are you the designated “point person” or do you just have a lot of time, like other retired persons, like me for example.

    August 28, 2007
  43. john george said:

    Ross- According Uncle Noah (Webster, that is) anarchism is the theory that all forms of government interfere unjustly with individual liberty and should be replaced by the voluntary association of cooperative groups. Anarchy is the complete absence of goverrnment and the associated state of lawlessness.

    Now I am all for decentralization of government. If I wasn’t, I would be a Democrat. I am not a Libertarian, either, in the sense that I recognize the need for a central government and a set of laws to keep society in order. I believe these laws must supercede individual perceptions of “rights”. If they do not, then we fall into anarchy.

    As far as, “…having these standards set by a group of white, Christians in Birmingham, Alabama,” I am less likely to be offended by these than a bunch of people of NO ehtical standards in Washington setting the standards. Fortunately, neither is true.

    I am reminded of the question a citizen posed to Benjamin Franklin after the first continental congress. He asked him what type of government they had established. Franklin replied, “We have given you a republic. Now, see if you can keep it.” Our government is not a democracy in the sense that we all have an equal voice in writing laws. We elect representatives (hence- republic) to do that for us. If they don’t do the job like we prefer, we can vote them out of office.

    This format also allows for local government to take care of the local needs. This way, the moguls in Washington aren’t supposed to be dictating the specifics of how local needs are to be taken care of. Unfortunately, this pattern seems to have begun to erode over the last couple decades, in my opinion.

    August 28, 2007
  44. john george said:

    Kiffi (or should I say “Viffe”, or “Kictor”. I’m never quite sure which one of you I am addressing)- I wondered how long it would take for you to rise to the bait! I was missing your input on this. (Just a joke there)

    As far as being a spokesperson for Transformation Northield, no, I am not. I just happen to agree with what they are doing. I know that may put me on the opposite side of your viewpoint, but that is what makes for lively discussions. How boring would it be if everyone agreed? Ho-hum!

    Also, I am not retired. I just don’t happen to work on Mondays & Tuesdays. I do believe I have a right to express my viewpoint, especially in a format such as this. I don’t agree with the opinion that we, as Christians, must remain a silent, inert part of society. I just think that critical thinking can be applied to any situation. That is why I take the opportunity to question some of the things that have been happening in the town of recent.

    I believe that a Biblical world view is defendable, and I intend to do just that. Biblical truth is not some unatainable myth. It is pertinent to ourselves, our society and the world. If you don’t agree with that, it is fine. I don’t think I have to apologize to anyone for having that viewpoint. If you have, as you stated in another stream, a strong core, then I don’t think the basis of my opinions should be a threat to you. In fact, I think it is good to be exposed to them, like me being exposed to yours. It gives me the opportunity to really prove or disprove what I believe. As it is said, iron sharpens iron. Don’t give up the dialogue. It is just getting interesting!

    Now, back to the protest and the kids’ right to launch it.

    August 28, 2007
  45. Sean wrote:Yes a school is a public place, but I think there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy in one’s locker.

    If there is privacy in a locker, there must be privacy in a pocket, too. I don’t think so.

    Kids talk about trust, but what about kids doing the right thing so parents can trust them…that’s what really works well.

    Bjorn wrote in #34:
    Before we knew it we were surrounded by eight police officers, all for four college buddies who decided to have a few beers and walk down town.

    I think you need at least two officers per person these days, due to the fact that you don’t know who you may be stopping, the availability of high powered guns, people on drugs that raise up their physical strength several times over.

    Kids shouldn’t be trying to direct police processes that they don’t understand…given they have less experience with such things and have made no attempt to understand what police face each day. I don’t want over zealous police, but I don’t want dead ones, either.

    When we were kids, officers chased us around for smoking. We thought it was a huge joke, but come to find out, it wasn’t that funny after all, as the surgeon general’s warning came out sometime after that. Don’t worry, Anne, being old is cool and fun!

    August 28, 2007
  46. Josh Hinnenkamp said:

    Hey Bright,

    You’re kind of a paranoid individual, ain’t ya? Or at least a wild imagination. Teenagers roaming the streets of Northfield at night. On bikes. With guns. On PCP. Monsters in the street. Yep. The Northfield we all know and love.

    August 28, 2007
  47. Bjorn Norgaard said:

    I agree that the police do have a dangerous and necessary job in our society, and for that I comend and respect them. However, I view police in a protective role. While part of that protective role does mean being pro-active in some senses I don’t believe police should go out with the intention of busting as many people as possible(no matter how boring the shift). Especially when many of those busts are for pettier violations and not the issue at hand; heroin.

    Another issue from that infamous Friday night that still lingers with me is the closure of our encounter with the police. After recieving our tickets we were told to have a safe night and they sent us on our way. My friends and I stood dumbfounded on the sidewalk; no offer for a ride, a phone call, a seizure of keys, or even a stict lecture about heading home or not driving. We actually continued down town for several more blocks before calling my sound asleep (and quite sober) sister for a ride home. If my friends and I, as well as the rest of the youth are all potential dopped up, gun slinging gangsters then why turn us loose on the town again?

    And also Bright, myself and many other youth understand perfectly well how certain police policies work. The youth are the ones dealing with these policies every night when they are eye balled by every cop driving by or surrounded by officers.

    Lastly, I don’t think the police were chasing you around for smoking cigarettes because they didn’t want you to get lung cancer. If that was the case then a lot of adults would be in trouble and our Muni wouldn’t sell them.

    August 28, 2007
  48. Bright,

    If there is privacy in a locker, there must be privacy in a pocket, too. I don’t think so.

    Well, actually, yes. We don’t just randomly search student’s persons, nor should we randomly search their lockers. My problem is not with schools or police who search the lockers of those for whom there is reasonable suspicion. My problem is with these ridiculous blanket searches — assuming that everybody must be guilty and that if they don’t have anything to hide they shouldn’t object.

    We certainly don’t ask people to empty their pockets with the same lack of provocation.

    August 28, 2007
  49. john george said:

    Sean- Speaking of blanket policies, have you tried flying anywhere recently? I went overseas in March, and I didn’t think I was going to get out of Chicago! My offense? Being the possessor of a titanium hip joint! I even offered to show them my scar, but they were convinced by then. Unfortunately, a few bad apples have spoiled the whole barrel. I agree with Bright in her assessment of what might happen in a police stop. Unfortunately, some of the risks that used to be only in larger metro areas have moved to small towns, and I don’t think we are being paranoid. This trend has resulted in the deaths of a few outstate officers because they were too trusting and not vigilant.

    Also, Bjorn, the officers’ reaction to the situation by letting you go could be a demonstration on their part that they did not determine you to be a risk. It would be good to hear their opinion on that, but I know they cannot express it here. Unfortunately, once they were aware of your drinking, it put them in a real bind to just turn the other way as if nothing had happened. With all the break-ins in town this summer, it seems plausible to me that they would be suspicious of ANYONE walking out of a backyard in the darkness. Just my guess on that part. It does seem a little unhospitable for them to not offer you a ride, but if it wasn’t raining, I could see that. It could also be that they were a little embarassed over the incident, but enough speculation on things we don’t know.

    I would suggest this. There has been a lot of good discussion regarding building better communications between law enforcement and youth. This is a really good thing, and any way this could be promoted is worth the investment. I don’t think that the officers can get to know EVERY young person in town, but just getting to know ANY of you is better than none.

    August 28, 2007
  50. Christine Stanton said:

    Kiffi: You wrote, “…it seems to me, JG, that no matter which thread you comment on, the comment takes on the nature of seeking ‘transformation’.”

    Can you give me an example of one or more of John’s comments that made you think that he was “seeking ‘transformation?'” Also, what do you mean by “seeking ‘transformation.'” I am curious why you singled out his comments.

    August 28, 2007
  51. kiffi summa said:

    re post #44: bait is for fish; most straightforward people would ask a question, offer an opinion, but would not “bait”. I asked a direct question, it was answered, let’s leave “baiting” out in the future. It’s not too Ha Ha!

    Any segment of society has the right, and most likely the responsibility, to protest what they find wrong in any of their govt. processes. The old but honorable “I’m glad to live in a country where it’s legal to burn the flag” thing.

    Seeing as how “kids” are often just given lip service, rather than true equity, in situations such as this, I consider them the Patrick Henrys of the day to have drawn attention to their issue.

    Is anyone questioning the propriety, or validity, of the Iraq war protestors who are in Bridge Square every Saturday? Does anyone think they should have tried to have a friendly dialogue with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al first?

    I’m proud of anyone who treats the rights of our society as worth protesting for; I am sorry for those who see these kids’ engagement in the process as a subject for criticism.

    August 28, 2007
  52. Christine Stanton said:

    “Is anyone questioning the propriety, or validity, of the Iraq war protestors who are in Bridge Square every Saturday? Does anyone think they should have tried to have a friendly dialogue with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al first?”

    Kiffi: That is a poor comparison. For one, I think it would be much easier to have a dialogue with police in Northfield than with Bush, Cheney, or Rumsfeld. Secondly, as far as objecting to the Iraq war, it is being done through multiple forms. Demonstrations are only one way people are protesting.

    I also agree that anyone has the right and responsibility to protest against things they see wrong with governmental processes. Standing on a street corner is only one of way to do it. I would encourage all that feel the police in Northfield are profiling teens to also use the media and discussions to make their voice heard.

    I do not believe anyone here has said that these teens have no right to protest by means of a demonstration. There has, however, been opinions on whether or not teens are being unjustly profiled. Frankly, I would need to hear more information and comments from the police as well before I would be able to form an opinion.

    One thing that does concern me is that the Northfield police have not been involved in the teen initiated discussions about heroin use. I am not sure of their reasoning for not being involved, but it does not send a good message.

    August 28, 2007
  53. john george said:

    Christine- Great post! This brings up, what I would call, a procedural question (for lack of a better term). You observed that the police dept. has been silent and not involved in teen initiated discussions. Perhaps, since they are enforcers of law and policies and not writers of law and policies, they really don’t have a format to respond? I just don’t know on this. I’m sure there are some guidelines out there on this subject. I’ll see what I can find. If anyone else has some insight, I would appreciate it.

    One thing, which I don’t want to use as an excuse, but might be a reason there has been no response, is that the department is in a state of leadership transition. It’s too bad all this had to get started, then the chief had to step away. Hopefully, all the positive momentum won’t be lost.

    The things I have read about other police departments getting closer to their precinct residents are inner city programs. The officers go into an area, spend “off” time with the families, help with service projects, etc. This does wonders for building relationships and familiarity and trust. Is this something that could be implemented here in Northfield? If it is happening, please forgive me for not being aware of it.

    From the presentations I have seen coming from the Northfield youth, especially the Key sponsored dialogues, I would say we have a great start. They are really expressing a desire to see better relationships, and they have gone about it with a good attitude. But, getting “high fives” from people like me, who have no youth in that age group, really isn’t going to accomplish anything. I would like to see some kind of active respone from we adults, but I don’t have the natural connections to realize that.

    August 28, 2007
  54. kiffi summa said:

    Christine: You asked why I singled “him” ( JG) out. Because I felt that most of his comments, on most threads had a similar philosophy of a particular religious world view, or an authoritarian certainty/ aspect to them, and I found that curious, over the broad range of subjects. He doesn’t appear to have a problem with that, and answered directly, by saying that his religious views do inform his life, and speech, in a broad way.

    Second, my comment re the adult protestors was saying that I think the actions of adults and youth are being evaluated differently here, in that the kids’ protest was being questioned as to their validity, i.e. was their protest really warranted, etc. the buried message there seems to be that some adults think they should be “profiled”. No one has asked the adults to justify their actions, in the way I think it is being implied the kids should do.

    As far as dialogues with authority figures, there is a hot line at the White House, where anyone may leave a comment; maybe there’s no one listening, I don’t know.

    But I do know, that when the Key asks the police to sit in on their Youth Board meetings, so that they can build an understanding, the police are a no-show. I do know, although they were invited to the Armory meeting, they were also a no-show there. Chief Smith always made a “big deal”, sincerely, I believe, about preventative style police work. There have been many opportunities to implement that philosophy, and in the two aforementioned cases, those opportunities have been lost.

    August 28, 2007
  55. Christine Stanton said:

    John: As far as you comment, “But, getting “high fives” from people like me, who have no youth in that age group, really isn’t going to accomplish anything,” I beg to differ. There have been people at the Key meeting who do not have teenagers. It is not just a problem for parents and kids; it is a community problem.

    As far as the police involvement, the off duty suggestion is good, but I am not sure how many officers would be willing to do that unless they were paid. It seems to me that, if nothing else, there should be PR or educational efforts on the part of our police department. Maybe that is something the city leaders can encourage, if not mandate. No, the police cannot write the laws, but I would hope they know enough about them to educate the public about them.

    August 28, 2007
  56. Christine Stanton said:

    Kiffi: Thanks for the response. I guess we were posting at the same time, so I did not read your entry until after I posted mine.

    Though no one asked the adult war protesters to justify their actions, I think their agenda and argument is well publicized. If we had a blog going about whether the war was right or wrong, I am sure people would be challenged by some in the same way to justify their actions just as the teen protesters have been in this blog.

    One big difference is that, if they are under eighteen, they cannot vote, which does give them a disadvantage politically. However, I sure hope that is not the reason the police have not been involved in the teen initiated discussions about other matters–namely the drug problem.

    Sorry about that last comment. Yet, as a teen, I would wonder about that, and it would make me feel powerless to change the situation. Actually, sometimes I even feel that way as an adult who is able to vote! Thank goodness there is more that one way to initiate positive changes.

    Maybe you can answer the question as to who could mandate that police ARE involved in discussions concerning them. Couldn’t the city government do that? I know that the Chief of Police reports to Al Roder, but could the City Council tell the City Administrator what to do? I have to admit that I do not know that much about city government.

    August 29, 2007
  57. kiffi summa said:

    Christine: Obviously there’s a bit of a leadership crisis at the NFPD, at the moment, not because there aren’t good officers there, but just because when leadership transitions there’s all sorts of adjustments going on. So they just need to get their “ducks in a row”, and they will, I hope.

    Of course the City Council could tell the city administrator what to do, they are his/her boss. The Council has a bit of a hard time with that employer/employee concept, IMHO; they prefer the
    “poker buddies” relationship. There’s a big difference between the position of city administrator and that of a city manager. Remember the referendum some years ago when the Charter commission brought that vote to an election when the council could not unanimously agree? NF voted to keep the city administrator job description, who is then subject to a strong mayor system, which is what NF is supposed to have.

    Sorry, this is now further off point, but if you read the City Charter, it gives you a pretty good feel for the framework of our city govt. It’s pretty clear and interesting reading, actually.

    August 29, 2007
  58. Griff Wigley said:

    I’m guilty of neglecting this discussion thread after initiating it. But I’m glad to see that the initial rule violations re: sarcasm and not addressing directly those whom you’re disagreeing with haven’t continued. Carry on. In the meantime, I’ll see if I can get someone from the Nfld PD to comment here.

    August 29, 2007
  59. Curt Benson said:

    I also noticed the greatly increased police presence after the press conference and have heard stories about seemingly uncalled for stops of young people where the police checked IDs and sent them on their way. I support people’s right to question and protest this.

    However, Bjorn, aren’t you getting a bit carried away with your victomhood here? In your comment #43 you refer to “excessive police force” in the event that prompted your protest. Where was the “force”, much less “excessive force”? Having tickets handed to you isn’t really “excessive force”, is it?

    Later, in your post #47 you say:

    “After recieving our tickets we were told to have a safe night and they sent us on our way. My friends and I stood dumbfounded on the sidewalk; no offer for a ride, a phone call, a seizure of keys, or even a strict lecture about heading home or not driving.”

    Bjorn, I don’t get it. You were so traumatized by your encounter with “excessive force” that you held a protest. I’ve got to believe that if the “force” was so terrible, you’d hardly want to hop in a police car with your tormentors and get a ride home with them.

    I have a feeling that if the police had given you a ride, you’d come up with another complaint–maybe you’d want the cops to tuck you in bed after reading you a bedside story. (OK, Griff, I know I crossed the sarcasm line here.)

    Josh, I’d be careful about comparing this particular protest to anything from the civil rights movement. Those people were fighting for the most basic of human rights, and some of them died doing it. This protest, according to the only person that has explained himself so far, is a about the right for underaged people with beer buzzes to cut through people’s yards unmolested by the police in search of pizza. This protest seems to be more Al Sharpton than Roza Parks.

    You guys can do better than that.

    August 29, 2007
  60. 1. Young people with developing brains should not be on drugs or alcohol or any dna wrecking substance. At least give yourselves a
    chance to see who you might become before you trash it all. It is
    natural to think you are invincible now, but that’s because you haven’t had any real negative experience to show you otherwise. Nonetheless, you are vulnerable and need protection from your veiled opinions of life. I wish that none of you ever had to have any difficulties in your lives, but that would be naive.

    2. Young people who cannot distinguish between two very different
    concepts should not be setting government policy, neither by vote or by demand. Neither should old people, for that matter.

    3. If there is a problem, accusations, hyperbole, drama, and name calling, substituting one’s thoughts in place of another, assuming,
    bringing in more info to confuse the matter, etc. are not ways
    to solve the problem.

    4. I say the police in Northfield need and should have access to
    the same protection policies as the police in the Cities have. Back up, and more back up, if they deem it necessary. I also say that I have never seen the police show up to any private meeting. They call the meeting time according to their personnel availability, and type of meeting is usually very public, like in a classroom, or outdoor event, or for the media. Police have no business or mandate to sit in a room having accusations tossed at them, or people questioning their sanity, and they have no business
    defending their policies in that situation. They need to maintain
    a professional level of demeanor, and not get personal with anyone
    from the private sector.

    5. If and when the NFPD decides to get acquainted with every teen
    in the city, I am sure we will hear protests that the cops are too
    much into everyone’s business. They cannot win.

    6. If I am defending bad cops unknowingly, and I were to learn of
    that conclusively I would step down and join the other side. Until
    then, I am not taking anything back. I have forty years experience
    of hearing, reading, seeing, and learning about life, both it’s good and bad aspects and I surely don’t see NF as being a police state or anywhere near that.

    7. Paranoia is a very difficult mental disorder. The term should not be used to question someone’s opinion. It is a harassing and
    offputting method to say the least. I call for an apology for myself and anyone who has had to deal with mental illness.

    August 29, 2007
  61. Griff Wigley said:

    Since this topic has included discussion of using drug-sniffing dogs at the Nfld High School:

    Last weekend’s Nfld News: Schools won’t use drug dogs right now, officials say

    Today’s Nfld News editorial: Cost is nothing, results are good

    But in a town where the main topic of conversation over the summer was “How bad is Northfield’s heroin problem?” the district should be determining not whether to use the dogs, but how often. Drug-sniffing dogs are not uncommon in schools. At least one school district in our area has used them and the Rice County Sheriff’s Department has provided that service free of charge. Law enforcement officials in other districts in Minnesota have reported a marked decrease in drug-related incidents in schools that have used drug-sniffing dogs. The Mayor’s Youth Task Force on Alcohol & Drug Use recommended using drug-sniffing dogs at its July 13 meeting. The cost is nothing and the results are fewer drugs in schools. If not now, when?

    August 29, 2007
  62. john george said:

    Christine- Re. your post #55. Yes, I agree that I could have some input into these teenagers’ lives, but I’m not going to go storming in unasked. When I did have teenagers in school, there was a natural connection with other teens that allowed me to build relationships with them. We have had a number of young people live with us over our time here in Northfield. We also have a steady stream of Olaf students coming through our home, presently.

    What I was refering to here is my having no natural connection with The Key or any of the kids who go there. I do think that is important. Without that, I am just one more adult coming in with ideas that aren’t theirs and frustrate their lives. None of us needs that. I will continue what I am doing, because it is having an effect. I do have a heart for these young people, though, and what they struggle with. Perhaps something will open up, yet.

    Bright- I appreciate what you are saying in your post #60, but I have a couple observations. You said, “Nonetheless, you are vulnerable and need protection from your veiled opinions of life.” Much as we parents would like to protect our kids from life’s problems, I don’t think it is possible, especially in our technologicaly advanced age. Also, these are college age kids in this protest, not middle schoolers. This is the time they are transitioning into adulthood, and that transition bears different difficulties for different kids. One of the best things we can do for our kids at this age is to release them to live and make mistakes, and then support them in fixing their mistakes. In the very least, their protest got our attention.

    Same post, comment #5. I think it is possible for the police to get to know the youth of this town without getting into their business. I’m not sure it is possible for them to get to know EVERY young person well, but I think at least being acquainted with SOME of them is possible. This is a two-way street, and as Kiffe pointed out, two opportunities were missed. That doesn’t mean the Key should give up. Josh, I encourage you to keep trying. Two unsuccessful tries over a month’s period of time is not complete rejection, especially in light of the reorganization that is going on right now in the department.

    August 30, 2007
  63. Ray Cox said:

    I was glad to see the editorial in the Northfield News, as it sums up my feelings on getting drug use under control. As I said in an earlier posting, no one has been able to explain to me why drug dogs would not be used as a tool to help eliminate drug use in our schools.

    The Supt. made some very weak comments about why he is deciding not to use this tool, but it sounded more like denial than anything else to me. The News editorial made a strong case for drug dogs, including pointing out that the Rice County Sheriff’s dept will do a certain amount of work at no cost. I’m sure their thought on this is that they want to reduce drug use/sales/abuse in the county and providing trained, quality assistance is part of their mission.

    I don’t know about what other readers think, but knowing that 15 or so HS students received some form of treatment for serious, hard drugs really concerns me. Someone connected with CD work told me that generally about 15-20 percent of drug users actually get some form of treatment. Do the math on this.

    August 30, 2007
  64. BruceWMorlan said:

    I have a question about the use of dogs. Are we talking about a sweep AFTER HOURS just to see if there are traces of stuff in lockers? Or are we talking about dogs in the halls between classes just sort of hanging out? Either seems a little unfortunate, but neither seems to be the end of civilization as we know it. But the people who are susceptible to slippery slope arguments probably see it differently. But the slippery slope argument is why we have some pretty stupid laws about some pretty important stuff (but that’s another topic).

    August 30, 2007
  65. Ray Cox said:

    Bruce, as far as I know the drug dogs are used either in the evenings or other times when students are not in the buildings. Well trained dogs do an exccellent job determining if drugs are or have been present in areas, including lockers. As I noted earlier, I think it is much preferable to do searches with dogs rather than do individual personal checks of lockers. etc.
    However, that statement only holds true if your goal is to determine if students have drugs in your school building. If you want to go along pretending everything is OK, then you don’t do personal inspections or drug dog checks.

    August 30, 2007
  66. Anne Bretts said:

    There is an assumption here that drug dogs work, and I have no proof they don’t I’m just asking. After 30 years of hearing this, I have not seen any evidence that shows whether they work, exactly what that means and how cost-effective they are. It would seem to be very simple to take two comparable schools, set up one with dogs and the other without and do some comparisons over a couple of years. If this has been done, just add a link and I’ll be happy to check it out. I’m researching right now to see what I can find.
    Specifically, is success related to the amount of drugs found, the number of dealers caught, the number of kids routed into treatment or assistance, or the reduction in drug use statistics on the annual student surveys. Those all are vastly different goals, so what is the goal of bringing drug dogs in? I mean, if you’re using dogs and don’t find anything, is it because the users are smart, or the dogs scared them away or the drugs were never there?
    For 20 years we pumped hundreds of millons into the DARE program and yet all the science shows it has no effect at all on drug use — though it can improve kids’ relationship with the cops by getting them all talking to each other before drunken bike riding, fountain sudsing and other hijinks are necessary topic of conversation.
    Wouldn’t it be great if the police liaisons had dogs that could be friends with the kids, the way some nursing homes used dogs as a social tool. Sad that we even have to turn man’s best friend into yet another thing for kids to resent about adults.

    August 30, 2007
  67. Ray Cox said:

    I just finished listening to Mid-Day with Kerri Miller on Minnesota Public Radio. I wish everyone interested in the drug problems in Northfield would listen to the show. ( I think you can by going to Kerri had Joseph Califano on the show. Califano is the former federal secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. He has written a book titled ‘High Society’ that deals with drug problems in America, and focuses specifically on youth.

    On the MPR show there were several students that called in to talk about their experiences with drugs in their schools. It was good to hear one young lady say that when the school started using drug dogs problems were eased. But as Califano noted, there are ways to circumvent drug dogs. It is just one tool.

    Here is something to think about. Some months ago there was a spill of mercury in a public school building in Minnesota—-I forget which community. There was an immediate response, the school was closed and thousands of dollars were used to clean up the spill. Parents would not send their children to school without being assured all was cleaned up properly. BUT…parents seem content to send their children to schools where drug use is common and it is effectively killing a portion of our society. Where is the outrage and concern of parents over drug use—something that creates lasting damage just as bad or worse than an environmental contamination?

    August 30, 2007
  68. Anne Bretts said:

    Ray, I think the difference is that there’s a concensus that mercury is a danger and lots of disagreement over what kinds of drugs are dangerous and how dangerous they are.
    Another interesting point about that…I will try to find the report I read, but our culture of feeding kids cherry medicine and telling them “Take this drug and you’ll feel better” creates the idea that drugs are good and can solve problems. It’s very different from painful shots and the idea is that “This is going to hurt but we don’t have any other choice.” I’m not saying we need to inject vitamins by needle (which I guess would encourage heroin use) but we do need to think about the mixed messages we give our kids, and whether jail and police action are the best weapons in the war against teen stupidity.

    August 30, 2007
  69. Frankly, I think people should do what they feel like doing without my intervention. My dad always said, “Live and let live.” What I am pushing for is a safe society. When you do drugs you support an unsafe society.

    I don’t think the people around here realize what happens when drug dealers get a lock on the situation.

    Why do you think drugs are still around after fifty years?

    Wy do you think people, in general, in the big cities stay home after dark?

    It’s about the perception of making money, although very few
    actually do profit, and where there’s money to be made, there’s often corruption, violence and a sad day for everyone around.


    August 30, 2007
  70. Curt Benson said:

    Tracy, Ross, Griff– How about getting Supt. Richardson on your radio show/podcast to answer questions about the school’s drug policies? (The Twin’s broadcast next Wednesday should be over before your show, so call ins should be doable.)


    August 30, 2007
  71. Christine Stanton said:

    Ray wrote, “If you want to go along pretending everything is OK, then you don’t do personal inspections or drug dog checks.”

    I think that is my biggest beef with the schools–“…pretending everything is OK….”

    There is no doubt that a higher probability of being caught would deter some kids. But, I wonder how a sweep with drug dogs after hours would result in singling out kids who had drugs in school. I heard earlier that many kids do not even use their lockers. How could you pinpoint where the drugs came from? I suppose that would have to result from further checks durring school hours.

    If the intent is to see if there are illegal drugs present in the high school, the drug dogs would be a good way to help verify it. Then again, (I believe it was Bright that mentioned it) what if the dogs do not pick up the scent? Would that be proof the problem does not exist? I hope we would see this as only one tool (as Ray quoted from the MPR show.)

    In the past few years I have heard that drug deals go on right in our high school parking lots. At first, I wondered, “how that could happen?” Over time, I have found that the answer to that question is most likely that the school does not want to deal with it. Whatever their reasoning, I hope that the media coverage this summer will be an incentive to make some important changes in the way the school addresses the problem. Some might say that they would just move the deals somewhere else, but why not give them one less place of opportunity.

    I remember getting notifications from the school that there was a case of head lice or strep throat in my child’s class room. If you look at all the HS parent newsletters from last year year or at the website, there is not one reference to drugs or alchohol. I am hoping that will change.

    A new school year is about to begin. I will support the school in any changes they make that will help keep our students healthier and drug free.

    There is a book that I have that says mothers should pray that their kids get caught. I am going to use that, even if it is my own kid that gets caught. I would rather know for sure there is a problem and try to deal with it than thinking or pretending the problem isn’t there if, in truth, it is.

    August 30, 2007
  72. kiffi summa said:

    I remember hearing Chief Smith say that the drug dogs go berserk in the police station in the desks/work area, because there HAVE BEEN drugs there , on the officer’s desks, as they work up evidence for cases.

    So……how can you assume that any reaction of dogs in the school situation, could be time specific, or person specific, or even not be related to any of the many “visitors” in the school?

    I just continue to think this is such a misguided direction to follow; this is not an urban school where many severe problems proliferate, in direct proportion to the other social-economic problems, and larger population numbers.

    I applaud Supt. Richardson for making a thoughtful decision to Not use dogs, at this time.
    Thank you, Supt. Richardson.

    August 30, 2007
  73. Christine Stanton said:

    After reading Kiffi’s comments, the only way that I could see drug sniffing dogs being effective, is if it was done when students were present. I guess I am unsure how I feel about this. I can see the positives, but I would need to hear more of the negatives before I could have an educated opinion. Maybe some of you could help me with that.

    August 30, 2007
  74. Christine, from your earlier post:

    A new school year is about to begin. I will support the school in any changes they make that will help keep our students healthier and drug free.

    But drug-sniffing dogs won’t keep kids drug-free! They’ll just encourage them to keep their drugs elsewhere. I wrote the following as a letter to the editor yesterday evening, but it’s pertinent to this discussion, so I’ll post it here too:

    I was appalled when I read the August 29 News editorial on drug-sniffing dogs, the end of which stated, “[the] cost is nothing and the results are fewer drugs in schools.”

    Northfield High School has 1,300 students and the only solid number we have is the 30 that have entered treatment (as your editorial stated). Is it worth falsely searching as much as 98% of the student population, because 2% are doing drugs? It’s not substantially intrusive searching, no, but it’s still searching.

    And even that aside, treating kids like criminals saps trust from the school. Can you imagine a student who would feel comfortable opening up to a staff member about a drug problem in an environment where he has just barely more privacy than a prisoner?

    Superintendent Richardson was right to be hesitant about drug-sniffing dogs. Even if you remove the drugs from the schools, I doubt it will really affect drug use. Students will just store and exchange their drugs elsewhere.

    The real thing we should be targeting in schools is drug education. Northfield Public Schools should look critically at its drug education to ensure it’s as honest, comprehensive, and effective as it can be. Maybe then, we can begin to build trust in our schools, instead of breaking it down further.

    August 30, 2007
  75. john george said:

    Griff- Did you know this stream, which started out about the kids’ protest and it’s effectiveness has digressed to drug use in teens and use of drug sniffing dogs in school? I think, though, the underlying issues are related in each case.

    One of the underlying themes I have read in this strean is the issue of “student rights”, both in being able to walk through people’s back yards after dark without being questioned, and to be able to take whatever they please into the public schools without being “sniffed”. If the concept of “rights” is being taught above the concept of “responsibilities”, then I think we have a problem.

    The other idea I have a problem with in certain education models is that kids can’t be taught that something is “right” and something is “wrong.” In physics, there is observable relativity, but if we try to apply that to the teaching of morals, we lose our foundation. There is a reason that a “choice” is “poor”. It is because it is wrong. Until we are able to apply morality to drug education, we are not going to be able to accomplish change. Shame is not a negative emotion. It is a symptom that something is wrong. And there are actions to take to correct a wrong and release us from shame. I have three daughters that teach or have taught in public schools. The thing they have been so amazed at is having to be so careful in their approach to students that they don’t make them “feel bad”. Ross, mnaybe we should listen to those “white Christians in Birmingham, Alabama.”

    Another issue is the attitude that is prevalent in many parents. The idea that you can drive 85 mph. on the road as long as there isn’t a “cop” around to catch you is the same attitude as in the high schoolers who think they can carry drugs into school as long as there isn’t a dog around to “sniff” them. Neither action is a right. In fact, it is a rot in our society. We are one of the best educated societies in the world, and we still can’t obey laws. I don’t have any hope in amoral education programs (and I’m not talking about math & science).

    There is a really great opinion article in the Pioneer Press today, “On the mission of forming a child’s mind and soul,” by Rod Dreher. I would suggest to anyone interested to get a copy of it.

    August 30, 2007
  76. john george said:

    Sean- Thanks for the link. Do you have some in with Al Gore? Oops! Griff- Please don’t take this as sarchasm! It’s just late night humor. I’m always searching for the missing link.

    August 31, 2007
  77. John Thomas said:

    We crossed a street and cut through a backyard, and upon getting on the sidewalk were pulled over under suspicion of burglary.

    That, is called probable cause. That fact that your group was seen cutting through a backyard at night, and that is what got you stopped.

    I am sorry for your experience, but, as a homeowner, and if 4 kids were cutting through my backyard at night, I would want them stopped and questioned.

    You were not profiled. You were stopped for probable cause.

    August 31, 2007
  78. I am sorry for your experience, but, as a homeowner, and if 4 kids were cutting through my backyard at night, I would want them stopped and questioned.

    (Emphasis mine) John, I think that’s Bjorn’s point. Four kids do seem awfully suspicious — maybe your decision to use “kids” instead of something more generic like “people” was not an especially careful one, but maybe it was.

    I don’t think Bjorn disputes that police had legitimate reason to ask them for ID, I think what he’s saying is that they wouldn’t have acted on that reason if he and his friends were, say, 40 years old.

    August 31, 2007
  79. john george said:

    Sean- You said, “I don’t think Bjorn disputes that police had legitimate reason to ask them for ID, I think what he’s saying is that they wouldn’t have acted on that reason if he and his friends were, say, 40 years old.” I’m not sure that is an accurate evaluation of the protest. That is what it was all about, or so I understood it. I thought profiling was considered being singled out without probable cause.

    I do feel that after dark, sitting in a squad car, 4 full grown people look like 4 full grown people. I don’t think the officer could have had any idea what their age was without looking them in the face. I would postulate this, that if the event had been in the daylight, the officer would have driven right past.

    John- I think Sean has a good point here on the difference between “kids” and “people” as an example, but the whole discussion has centered around the “kids”, so I give you the benifit of the doubt on this one.

    By the way, how do you get those quotes framed in those little grey boxes? I looks really neat, but it is beyond my meager computer skills. Just wondering.

    August 31, 2007
  80. We’ll we’ve got 28 minutes before our time is up.

    My impression was that profiling didn’t mean that arrest or apprehensions were necessarily unjustified, just that the police watch you more closely because you fit a certain type. That we all commit crimes, they’re just more likely to find you if you’re — in this case — young.

    I do feel that after dark, sitting in a squad car, 4 full grown people look like 4 full grown people.

    Well I’m splitting hairs here, but I think even in the dark you could tell if someone was 20ish versus 40ish. After all, it’s not completely black and the combination of size, posture, and clothing would reveal enough to be able to get a general idea of the person’s age.

    PS: To make that gray quote box, add <blockquote> before the quote and </blockquote> after it.

    August 31, 2007
  81. Christine Stanton said:

    Here is my entry before the deadline.

    If you compared 4 “kids” in your backyard at night to 4 adults age 40 or so, frankly, I think I would be more concerned if they were adults. Four adults lurking through my backyard in the dark would give me the creeps!

    August 31, 2007
  82. Griff Wigley said:

    Sean has a letter to the editor in today’s Nfld News:

    Drug-sniffing dogs are bad for schools

    I was appalled when I read the August 29 Northfield News editorial on drug-sniffing dogs, the end of which stated, “[the] cost is nothing and the results are fewer drugs in schools.”

    Northfield High School has 1,300 students and the only solid number we have is the 30 that have entered treatment (as your editorial stated). Is it worth falsely searching as much as 98 percent of the student population, because two percent are doing drugs? It’s not substantially intrusive searching, no, but it’s still searching.

    And even that aside, treating kids like criminals saps trust from the school. Can you imagine a student who would feel comfortable opening up to a staff member about a drug problem in an environment where he has just barely more privacy than a prisoner?

    Superintendent Richardson was right to be hesitant about drug-sniffing dogs. Even if you remove the drugs from the schools, I doubt it will really affect drug use. Students will just store and exchange their drugs elsewhere.

    The real thing we should be targeting in schools is drug education. Northfield Public Schools should look critically at its drug education to ensure it’s as honest, comprehensive and effective as it can be. Maybe then, we can begin to build trust in our schools, instead of breaking it down further.

    September 1, 2007
  83. Griff Wigley said:

    Supt. Chris Richardson has a commentary piece in today’s Nfld News: District’s drug policy seeks to do what’s right.

    The fact is that we are not against the idea of using drug dogs at Northfield High School or any other school in the district, but we firmly believe there is a right way and a wrong way to do such a search, and we want to do it right. We are also concerned that the editorial indicated that the Mayor’s Task Force had made some type of formal recommendation to the district about using drug dogs. To the best of our knowledge, the Task Force has made no formal recommendations to the school district nor did it even meet on the date indicated in the editorial.

    September 1, 2007
  84. Joshua Hinnenkamp said:

    I propose drug dogs in city hall, the library, the hospital, the DMV, the public sidewalks, the elementary schools, the municipal liquor store, and the post office. If only we could consent to letting the colleges use drug dogs as well. If we allowed dogs into the local bars we could arrest many prominent members of our community pretending to set good examples for our youth. My hope is that eventually it will be legal for officers to search houses based on a dogs whiff. That will solve the drug problem in Northfield once and for all.

    September 2, 2007
  85. Jane Moline said:

    Yikes! I think I am a lurker, so here goes.

    I initially thought it was neat that some kids decided to protest-even if they did not understand exactly what they were protesting–but Bjorn deserved to be stopped and he deserved the ticket-and, welcome to the real world, the police do not give you a ride home–you are really on your own (until you wake up your sister for that ride.)

    I think we are complacent in Northfield and throughout the country, and do not voice our opinions and protest enough–even if I do not agree with protesters, I think they are bold and strong to peacefully state their opinion.

    I think we have a very serious heroin problem. I think Supt. Richardson is softselling it by not mentioning the students shuttled off to alternative schooling or dismissed because of drug use. They are all our kids, whether they go to the Nfld Public Schools or dropped out, whether they are 20 or rob a bank.

    Some years ago the Northfield public schools developed a plan to NOT identify ADHD students to their parents –and these students grow into self-medicating middle-schoolers who are now heroin-using high-school drop outs. Yes, I am exagerating a little. However, it is true that youth with undiagnosed ADD / ADHD are at risk for drug abuse later in their youth. In criminal statistics, untreated ADD / ADHD youth are a siginificant proportion of law-breakers.

    I am a parent of teenagers. I am torn between wanting the police to “catch” my kids and concerned about abuse of police powers. However, I have a lot of faith in the Northfield police. I think they are some of the finest in law enforcement, having to deal with the dregs of society (yes, we have our share in Northfield) and still maintaining a strong moral compass that keeps them in tune with the people they serve. I am proud of Chief Smith’s strong statement of the “Not in my backyard” campaign and I wish he were here to implement it–it is unfortunate that there was an initial “shoot the messenger” over-reaction to his message.

    When I was in high school our lockers were regularly searched–at least once a year there was a search and clean out of lockers–we knew it would happen. There is a limit to privacy when it is on school property just as there is a limit to your privacy when you are at work. If drug-sniffing dogs scare drug users into hiding their drugs somewhere other than school, that is good. However, it is only one step in addressing the drug problem.

    When students know a friend or acquaintance is drinking or doping, do they tell anyone? Of course not. Youth believe it is noble to keep the secrets from the adults. How do we convince them that telling will help?

    Drinking in high school is at least as serious a problem as heroin use, and more wide spread. I was impressed by the ZAP bust of the house-party of underage drinkers.

    I really believe that students need to know how much we care about them–that we will catch them and they will suffer the consequences of underage drinking, public drunkenness and even curfew violations. They need to know that we will catch them before they shoot-up. There would be a lot less drinking and drug use if the user believes they will be caught-and suffer consequences.

    Which brings me back to the original string–that if the students belive they have been victims of unfair practices–they should protest. However, methinks they knew not what they were doing. (That is my feeble attempt to paraphrase scripture and incorporate some of that part of the string into my verbose response.)

    September 2, 2007
  86. Ray Cox said:

    Lurker or not Jane, you make very important and valid points….thank you.
    I agree that there appears to be more drug use going on in the schools and in Northfield than many people are ready to admit. As I’ve said before, denial doesn’t serve anyone well. You hit the nail on the head when you talk about a strong moral compass. If we as a community cannot give our youth a strong moral compass, who will?
    I’m curious if Northfield schools are not identifying ADHD students to every parent now. What is the reasoning for not identifying them to parents? Even if a student is tested and turns out not being ADHD I would think the school would have seen some concern in the student worth discussing with the parent.
    Thanks for your comments from the perspective of a current parent of teenagers….it has been a few years for me.

    September 4, 2007
  87. Jane Moline said:

    Ray-a number of years ago Lewis directed all teachers to NOT use the terms ADD or ADHD when referring to a suspected ADHD child to their parent. The purported reason at that time was the claim that ADHD is a medical diagnoses and teachers are not qualified to make medical diagnosis. However, it ignored the fact of educational diagnosis, which the Northfield school system had made for years, where testing for ADHD was part of the broad testing that is done for special education purposes.

    This was a result of Special Ed departments state-wide reacting to a change in Minnesota rules that states that if a child is ADHD and qualifies for special ed, there MUST be a medical diagnosis of the ADHD diagnoses on file. (This rule prevents abuse of the ADHD diagnoses by the school and encourages parents to seek medical help in treating ADHD, which responds successfully to medication the majority of time.)

    The schools are using this as an excuse to not identify students who might be ADHD. I believe that Northfield school systems have incorporated this policy in violation of Child Find laws that require the school to identify any child that may be eligible for special education–which may include a child with ADHD.

    And, very unfortuantely for a child that my be ADHD, most medical doctors are not familiar or experienced in diagnosing ADHD–resulting in improper diagnosis. A national study done a number of years ago followed up on ADHD diagnosis and found that the most accurate diagnosis was done by school psychologists followed closely by TEACHERS, 3rd by outside psychologists and psychiatrists, and finishing in last place family physicians.

    So, if a parent suspects their child may be ADHD, and if they request testing by Northfield Public Schools, the school will not offer tests that are used for ADHD diagnosis, and resist or refuse to do the tests if the parent asks. (On this I have first hand experience.) Most parents do not know their rights, and the testing may simply never be done. Some parents may seek additional help and find a doctor who knows what tests are indicated and can evaluate them as well, or not. If that parent does not have insurance or has limited insurance, they may never pursue the medical diagnoses.

    Alternatively, Northfield Public Schools could include the ADHD evaluations in their testing, when indicated, and refer the parent and child to a physician if the tests indicate ADHD.

    This is where I become confused by the Northfield Public Schools policy. Because of my profession and because of who I am, I thought the policy was implemented to save money–because testing of a student is to be done at NO COST to the family– and NPS was simply avoiding the cost of having a medical doctor provide a diagnosis. However, as I stated in my earlier remark–undiagnosed elementary students become self-medicating middle schoolers (self-medicating typically beginning with alcohol abuse) and then turn into heroin-addicted high-school drop-outs, means that these students are trouble for themselves, the school and the community.

    So, I believe that the subsequent cost of failing to diagnose ADHD is more expensive than the cost of early testin. I am unable to reconcile NPS policy as it appears to be unreasonable. In addition, and more importantly, I sincerely believe NPS is violating Child Find laws.

    However, I also think that this is one of the problems in the Northfield community–that undiagnosed ADHD elementary students become trouble-making teenagers. I think that is one of the sources of the problem that leads to underage drinking and drug abuse.

    And that brings me back to letting all these kids–and some of them are not “kids” anymore–that we love them and we want them to grow into healthy adult contributing members of our community. That means we listen to their opinions and give them a forum to express those opinions–like protesting on Bridge Square.

    It also means we hold them responsible for their actions–which means we have to catch them when they are doing something wrong. And that means we let them know what our expectations are–NO underage drinking–not at home with parents present, not at a friends house, not at a farm party, not a couple of beers with your college buddies. I really believe if we focus on the drinking problem, the heroin problem will become less and less of a factor–because fewer students will be at unsupervised parties where they believe they can get away with anything.

    Bjorn blogged earlier about what led to the protest–and he was breaking the law with a few of his buddies, and he got a ticket. Unfortunately, he then went on to rile up a bunch of other young people about what appears to be a false accusation of unfair profiling by the police.

    I think we are a little confused about how we should react–thank Bjorn for coming clean? Also, our own experience may make us somewhat complacent to underage drinking–the legal age of drinking in Minnesota was 18 when I was a senior in high-school–and I could go right in any bar and order a drink. This makes it confusing when my 20-year-old is not legal-I know he is an adult. Some adults may think it is OK to skirt that law. And when 20-year-olds secretly drink, they have younger friends there, too.

    I also know that alcohol abuse has killed more students than heroin.

    Part of the problem is our rigid societal approach to what is legal and what is not, while we sneak around the laws we don’t like. So we have a moral dilemma. And the solution is to unite as a community and make sure our message is clear and consistent. We will not tolerate underage drinking, and we will insist that underage drinkers are subject to the consequences of their actions.

    The hard part of this is how do we implement–we need to find those parties where drinking is going on and haul those kids off–kick them off the football team or whatever and make sure that they know we are all together in this.

    I was speaking with Tom Graupman (activities director at the high school.) I told him what the students tell me–that they believe students are caught violating MHSL rules but do not suffer the consequences equally–i.e., the star player on a team may not serve the time off. There is a perception by the students that consequences are not fairly applied. I think this contributes to the problem as well.

    Tom recounted a discussion with a group of students where they were given a scenario that the student was leaving a dance and encountered two classmates who were on athletic teams and were obviously drinking. When asked what they would do, the students suggested they would offer their drinking classmates a ride home so they would get home safely. They specifically said they would not tell anyone in the school of the MSHL violation.

    This is the problem for the ages–since time began teenagers have hidden their high-jinks from the “others”–old fogies like me. We should remember those days when we were students–we had a lot of secrets from our parents.

    What we need is a way to get the information–and I am stumped. We don’t want our kids to turn into a bunch of narcs. (Which is what we refused to be when we were their age.)

    I was very disturbed about Northfield’s 20-year-old heroin addict bank robber. These are just kids–they should not be going away to prison. Without a doubt, he will suffer the consequences of his actions. But we should be ashamed that our school district failed this student when we did not provide a “free and appropriate education,” and we failed him when he roamed unsupervised and unchallenged into the world of drugs. When we are collectively ready to take responsibility for our inactions, we will be able to move forward as a community to help all our children.

    Part of my whining is because so many of the parents in Northfield are so relieved to know that their child is not a heroin addict that it blinds them to the extent of the drug (including alcohol) problem. We need to do what we can do to make sure that it is not just the kids living in our house, but all of Northfields kids who are loved and safe.

    So if the police want to pull over any young driver to let them know they are watching, and if the school wants to use drug-sniffing dogs, I am all for it. I also think we have to come together as a community with our message–and that is where we are failing. There are many who agree that we need to stamp out underage drinking, but there are probably just as many who think we are overreacting and that we should mind our own business.

    That is why I particularly liked Chief Smith’s “Not in my backyard” moniker–this is our backyard and we need to make our message heard.

    September 4, 2007
  88. Josh Hinnenkamp said:


    I disagree with almost every point that you bring up (and there were a lot). You seem to confuse busting children with helping to fix the problem. When you make an arrest or ticket a youth you are simply showing there is a problem. By focusing energy on this you are denying a chance to come up with a solution. Even if drug dogs were implemented (or house parties continue to be busted) you aren’t fixing anything and to think otherwise is beyond naive. For the sake of argument, let’s say that a policy was enacted that eliminated drugs from the school (which could never happen, even with drug dogs). What have you solved? Kids being high at school? No, kids will just get high before school or after school. The thing that we should be focusing on isn’t whether or not kids are getting high at school, but whether or not kids are getting high at all. That does NOT mean we shouldn’t bust kids at school who are high or obviously holding, so please don’t turn it into that. But I am saying this is simply a band-aid at best and not part of the solution (which should be prevention). Busting kids will not stop use and abuse, and until we admit that, it will be more and more of these ineffective, do-nothing, zero tolerance policies. It disgusts me that my tax dollars pay for this.

    Point two: what makes you think that police are not profiling right now? Have you talked to the youth in this town (besides family)? I don’t see how you could make an accurate judgment on this. It doesn’t sound like you had an open mind to begin with if you claim the youth didn’t understand what they were protesting. It sounds like you had already made up your mind. I think the youth do know what they were protesting and just because teens who have recently been busted took part in it (and were very vocal in it) doesn’t make it any less relevant. If cops started going to the bars and profiled the people there looking for drugs, of course they are going to make more arrests. Does that make it right? Well maybe you think so, but I don’t. And if these same bar patrons protested I would feel they had a right to do so, even the guilty ones. I have talked with many youth who have been stopped (and clean) and quite angry about the incident. I wish more of them had been out there protesting, but Northfield is a small town with a lot of “chatty kathys and chatty keiths”. People make judgments and reputations gets wrecked.

    As far as putting a lot of faith in the Northfield police goes, I do as well. I see them often keep the peace, deal with domestic abuse in a respectful manner, etc. What I don’t see is a comprehensive drug policy that works. It isn’t the officers that I don’t have faith in, it is the public (governmental) policy that is mandated by others. The officers don’t have much of a chance to affect drug use in town when the system they follow is outdated or ineffective. If the answer is more arrests and tickets and punishment…well I think the concept of building more prisons and juvenile detention centers and punishment just isn’t the answer. I could bring out statistics if people wish to be bored (but am willing). Just like abstinence-only for sex education has been proven highly ineffective, abstinence-only education (or zero policy) for drug use isn’t any better. I am hoping that the Youth Board of the Northfield Union of Youth, in conjunction with other organizations like the Mayor’s Youth Council, could instigate a formal relationship with the police officers in town. This way youth could tell police officers their concerns and suggestions and police officers could talk to youth about their concerns. Just forming a relationship would help. “Not in My Backyard” in not effective policy and is a lot of empty rhetoric. Neither is ratting out your friends. We don’t want to raise a bunch of tattle tales do we? If you are concerned about a friend, getting them in trouble will not usually help. If the problem is bad have an intervention. If you rat out a person you don’t know, well people get angry about these things and I would be concerned about the “whistleblower’s” safety. This will also just foster more mistrust and suspicion which is not something that needs to be added to a teenager’s psyche. They have to already deal with that from many adults. They don’t need this from their peers.

    So here is the punchline. How can adults help with this problem of drug use? Going on a blog, might teach you a few things, but won’t fix a problem. The number one thing an adult in this community can do is BECOME A MENTOR. MALES MENTORS ARE ESPECIALLY NEEDED. This is not a lot of time and many studies have shown that this is very effective – life-changing effective. You can go here for more information:

    I will end by saying that focusing on punishment does not equal care. Some people believe in this. I think it causes needless rebellion, mistrust, and a lot of sneaking around. I wholeheartedly disagree with you that there would be less drinking and drug use if people think there might be consequences? Most users know there could be consequences and use anyways. Punishment is not very effective. Realistic education and forming good relationships is more so. So once again, to those who care, please check out this link on becoming a mentor. You can really make a difference by becoming a positive influence on someone’s life and prevent some of the things we have been reading about lately. Talk minus action equals nothing.

    There are no easy answers to the problems that face Northfield, but we need to keep having community dialogs on this matter. I would hate to see these problems get swept under the carpet (the broom is out for many). We need to focus on prevention and after care – this is where more people will be effected.

    September 4, 2007
  89. Jane Moline said:

    Josh- I am afraid I was not at all clear in my statements. I believe part of the problem is the “over criminalization” of drugs. The “War on drugs” does not work, and putting drug users in prison does not help them stop taking drugs except for giving them new challenges in getting drugs.

    The abuse of drugs, including alcohol, is a public health problem. Adults who send a confused, mixed message about alcohol and drug use make it more difficult for young people to understand the issues.

    When I was in junior high school and high school drug education was typically disinformation that was meant to scare the students into not using drugs. However, then as now, young people are smart enough to figure out they were not hearing the truth–and when they found one lie or exaggeration, they assumed that most of what they heard was probably not true. Just like today, some kids found accurate information, some experimented on their own, and some were just too afraid to try anything.

    What I intended to convey is that we have to rely on a united stand on drug use–including alcohol. And the problem is that the kids are not going to narc on their friends or anybody else–and I see that as a problem for us, because we cannot “have an intervention” if we do not know that someone has a problem.

    And I don’t think being ticketed for underage drinking means that we have to build more prisons. I am absolutely against using prison as a punishment for drug use. Our heroin addict bank robber will probably go to prison, and I think that is the saddest, worst possible result for him. He needs medical treatment, not training on how to be a better criminal.

    However, I will stick to my guns–Bjorn was busted for underage drinking and was upset that it took eight cops to make sure he and his buddies were given their tickets. He did encourage other protestors with his story–how can giving a ticket for underage drinking–which he admitted to–be profiling?

    Yes, a “clean” teenager stopped by a cop is going to be afraid and upset because he was not drinking or doing drugs. You may call this unfair profiling, but if a teenager is out at night they may be stopped. If you tell me that the police are bullying that teenager and intimidating them to let them search them or their car, I would be very concerned–but that is not the cases I have heard.

    I am a rabid defender of privacy and civil rights. I think it is very important for all citizens–especially those too young to vote–understand their rights and make sure they stand up for them.

    I defend the rights of those who protested the police profiling, and I was astonished that some thought they should have contacted the police directly–I think it was very reasonable for them to communicate how they felt with their protest, and I have to believe the police heard them.

    I am a bit of a cynic, so I guess I am not very open-minded. I think there weren’t too many that were actually stopped by police as there were that took offense at the idea that they may be stopped by police. So, what are the facts–were 14 young people stopped by police? 4? or 1? And we know about the young people walking harmlessly through backyards after having a few beers–there were 4 of them and they were ticketed, right? So how much police profiling are we protesting? I think the protest was against the idea of profiling–which is a valid opinion. I repeat that I think they had a right to protest.

    Frankly, to tell the truth, I would prefer we lower the drinking age. I think part of the problem is the criminalization of drinking that makes it so enchanting to the younger set. If they could go into a bar and order a drink, maybe binge drinking could be eliminated.

    However, the law right now is that they are not to drink until they are 21. The practice is to go off to an isolated, adult-free spot and drink until you are drunk–and then drive home drunk. And that is what is killing our kids. To top it off, some of them are moving on up the drug chain to heroin. They are not doing that at the Corner Bar–they are doing it at their secret, adult-free rendezvous. So, we don’t want them to be narcs and we don’t want them to drink, right? How do we reach them? I really don’t think that problem teenage drinkers are going in for a meet-and-greet with the local constabulary. The kids the police get to meet are probably the least likely to cause problems.

    September 4, 2007
  90. Scott Oney said:

    Jane and Josh–I’ve been following your discussion and would like to add a coupe of footnotes.

    Using the term “profiling” to refer to what the kids in Bridge Square were protesting may have been misleading; complaints I’ve heard from kids concerning cops would be better described as “harassment.” Profiling involves singling people out because of perceived membership in some category, such as a particular race or age-group. I don’t think Northfield cops are stopping white teenagers totally at random. Rather, they seem to have selected a small subset (who they most likely know by name, so there’s no need for profiling!) that they talk to over and over again. Who knows why the cops pick the kids they do, but, like bullies in gym class, they’re not going to let up until the kids graduate and leave town for college.

    On the subject of the integrity of the local police, at this point, objectively, it’s unknown. I actually interviewed a couple of members of the drug investigation unit in our region over the last year or so. I spoke to Monte Nelson at length last winter, and according to him, he had been a Northfield cop for 12 years (and on the DIU for several) and had never been asked to take a drug test, the most basic form of integrity testing. He didn’t see a problem with this and seemed unclear on why I was even asking. (For a discussion of integrity testing, and drug-related police corruption in general, see the 1998 GAO report “Law Enforcement: Information on Drug-Related Police Corruption,” available several places online; search on the title.)

    September 5, 2007
  91. Jane Moline said:

    Thanks, Scott for some good points and information. I am surprised that the police do not do regular drug testing. I know of many private and public companies that do regular surprise drug testing of their employees. I thought it would be common for police (and fire) personnel.

    My experience with the Northfield police is mostly through their consistent help with the Defeat of Jesse James Days where they have used professionalism and a “gentle” touch to diffuse some sticky situations. Their recruitment and use of area police volunteers builds relationships throughout the county.

    I am a child of the 60’s, however, and I believe that power corrupts. Because of their power, I believe the police have to especially careful and watchful to avoid being corrupted by their power–and one way to do that is to have healthy, robust relationships with the community.

    It is difficult, however, to maintain a healthy relationship in the community-by attending community meetings and taking time to get to know everyone–when the police are short-handed and under budget constraints. Right now the police department is short-handed, and I think that contributes to their inability to attend some of the community meetings–after you work all day you don’t feel much like volunteering for another assignment.

    Anyway, I think it is interesting that Scott brought up drug-testing for police in this string where we are also talking about drug-searching the schools with dogs. They are related–using a test to deter certain behavior. (We know it won’t “solve” problems–maybe just identify them.)

    September 6, 2007
  92. john george said:

    Josh- You said

    Neither is ratting out your friends. We don’t want to raise a bunch of tattle tales do we? If you are concerned about a friend, getting them in trouble will not usually help.

    Are you really being serious here? This attitude of not being a “tattle tale” is what has empowered every bully I have ever known to be able to dominate his poor victims. I know from experience. I have been on the receiving end. This is the same attitude that has suppressed young people from reporting pedophiles in the past. Finally, we seem to be getting past that, and we need to get beyond that with drug abuse, also.

    Your comment about “getting them in trouble” is a false concept. If ANY person is using habit forming drugs, they are already in trouble. The only way for them to get free is to get this out into the light. If you hold to this notion of not reporting drug use, you are keeping your head in the sand just the same as the person who is denying there is a problem. You have been talking about cooperation between youth and authorities. That is a two way street. There has to be a change in this attitude of “not being a tattle tale.” I have not heard of any person being reported for drug abuse in the recent past who was just thown into jail. They are required to complete a drug abuse program. I know there are some programs out there that aren’t really effective, but there are some that are. These youth need to get into one.

    There is an error in the thinking of many people that they can handle their own problems without any help from others. This is especially prominant in young people who are transitioning into adulthood. This is really dangerous thinking. When you become addicted to drugs, you are not going to be able to get free by yourself. You are going to need outside help.

    There is a quote by Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” I think this is appropriate here. Josh, you have a great amount of influence with the young people in this town. How are you going to use it? Are you going to help these people or are you going to be part of the problem?

    By the way, your encouragement to mentor young people is a great one. I have been involved with this for a number of years. It reminds me of the story about the fellow who was walking along the beach after the tide went out. He was picking up the live sand dollars and throwing them out into the water. Another person came along and abserved what he was doing. He asked him why he was doing it. He told the fellow that he couldn’t make a differnce with all the sand dollars along the whole shore. The fellow picked up another one, threw it into the water, turned to the man and said, “It made a difference to that one.”

    September 8, 2007
  93. john george said:

    Well, one thing is evident- I sure don’t have the blockquote thing figured out! Sorry, folks.

    September 8, 2007
  94. John,
    I’ve fixed the formatting in your comment. You had an extra <blockquote> tag after your </blockquote>.

    September 8, 2007
  95. john george said:

    Sean- Thanks so much! Just evidence of how we need one another!

    September 8, 2007

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