By Anne Holzman
Lauderdale police launched their body-camera program last November and initiated several traffic-safety intensives during 2018, St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth reported at the April 9 City Council meeting.
Lauderdale has a longstanding contract with the nearby suburb of St. Anthony, accounting for about four full-time police officers serving in Lauderdale along with volunteer reserves. (reserves).
Besides buying body cameras, the department trained all officers to use them and set up a system for camera use audits and reports. Officers were also trained in the use of naloxone, an emergency treatment for opioid overdose, and police vehicles have been furnished equipped with treatment kits. They also received crisis-intervention training to help them respond effectively to mental-health emergencies.
The use of technology was a major theme of the department’s 2018 report. Besides adding the body camera and naloxone programs, the department expanded its use of social media. At the council meeting, Mangseth praised the work of officer Kiel Rushton, who he said has taken the initiative and shows a flair for the medium. In the written report, Rushton explained the department’s use of Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms in friendly tones. “The donut jokes never get old,” he said. Rushton stated.
The printed report, available online or at city hall, breaks down Lauderdale crime statistics and compares them to prior years. Mangseth noted that an uptick in traffic citations during both 2017 and 2018 correlates with snow emergencies that hit the city both years in early spring.
Theft report numbers can vary widely from year to year, and 2018 showed a spike, from 17 in 2017 to 49 in 2018. Police Capt. Jeff Spiess explained in an email that 11 of those thefts were gas drive-offs, and that a series of thefts from unlocked vehicles in early July drove the number up fast over two evenings.
“As you can imagine, a motivated thief can enter a number of unlocked vehicles in a matter of minutes, resulting in multiple victims and separately reported incidents of theft,” Spiess wrote.
Meanwhile, traffic safety was a continuing concern during 2018, especially street racing. Mangseth said the city partnered with state patrol and other area law enforcement last year to stop and cite drivers; that effort has resumed with spring weather.
Traffic enforcement also included participation in Towards Zero Deaths, a grant-funded campaign in which St. Anthony police made hundreds of extra stops, citations, and arrests to discourage drunk driving.
Council members thanked Mangseth for protecting the community and noted the importance of the Reserves, volunteers who patrol parks, perform home checks for absent homeowners, and provide security at schools and events. Mangseth said the program has high turnover, partly because reserves go on to paid work in law enforcement; the department is often in need of new volunteers.