Police department’s commitment was to keep city residents safe
The Richfield police presence around the municipality was increased by 300% two weekends ago and into last week as the city responded to the protesting and violence that erupted in south Minneapolis.
Administrative Lt. Brad Drayna said the number officers on the streets had a significant impact.
“Normal patrol staffing during the night time hours is seven to eight officers,” Drayna said. “In order to ensure the safety of our community, we increased our overnight patrol staffing to 25 to 30 officers,” he added.
Increase in calls
From Thursday night, May 28, through Thursday, June 4, the city police responded to nearly 500 calls, including a number of suspected burglaries, while carrying out proactive enforcement such as making traffic stops, responding to curfew violations and verifying the activities of suspected suspicious persons.
On the night of May 28 to the morning of May 29, the police responded to eight burglaries. With the increase in the number of police around the city, those numbers dropped significantly in subsequent days.
Police patrols “stopped, interrupted, and prevented a number of suspected burglaries [on May 28-29],” a report from the city stated. “Several individuals were stopped moments before they made forced entry into city businesses,” the city release stated.
“Although some attempted/actual burglaries were called in by citizens or alarm companies, there were a significant number of thwarted attempts because officers were stationed nearby,” Drayna said. “For example, one officer positioned near a major shopping center chased off 20-plus vehicles that came into the area but immediately fled when confronted by our department. The overwhelming presence of our officers undoubtedly prevented a large number of crimes.”
A significant jump in calls for service was evident between May 29 and 30 when the department was called to 88 incidents.
“Where this is an increase in the number of calls our officers receive on a nightly basis, most were related to suspicious activity that did not result in unlawful activities taking place. Several individuals were stopped moments before they made forced entry into city businesses,” the city’s statement reported.
But it was the night of May 30 to the morning of May 31 when the city police saw one of its largest jump in calls for service.
“Our officers responded to a total of 132 calls,” the city’s report from the night stated. “The overall number of calls was higher than previous nights, a result of vigilant residents calling 911 when [they] observed suspicious or illegal activity. There were more than five times the typical number of Richfield Police Department officers patrolling the streets. Squads were also strategically and proactively deployed to areas of concern. In all, nearly 70 percent of all public safety activities took the form of proactive enforcement, including traffic stops, curfew violations, and verifying the activities of suspicious persons. Due to these measures, no local business was burglarized.”
Though the night of May 30-31 was busy for Richfield police, it was not to be outdone by the activities from May 31 to June 1.
The statement from the city indicated that “officers responded to a total of 142 calls. As with previous nights, the bulk of the department’s efforts were related to traffic stops, curfew violations, and reports of suspicious persons. One burglary was attempted on a city business, but was quickly stopped by officers.”
As with the lessening of protest arrests and tensions in Minneapolis, the calls for service in Richfield between June 1 and June 2 were significantly lower, but still enough to keep Richfield officers working throughout the night.
In all, there were 84 calls for service that night, a 41% decrease compared to the night before.
“As with previous nights, the bulk of the department’s efforts were related to traffic stops, curfew violations and reports of suspicious persons. One burglary took place where several individuals forced their way into a closed business to steal merchandise,” the city report stated.
On the night of June 3-4, the number of calls in the city continued to significantly decrease, according to the statistics provided by the city.
“Between 6 p.m. last night and 6 a.m. this morning, our officers responded to 66 calls for service,” the city’s release stated. “This was a 21% decrease compared to the previous night and a 53% decrease from Sunday, when officers experienced their highest call volume. No known burglaries were attempted or confirmed in the city of Richfield.”
As an assist to the police department, the fire department was also staffed at high levels during the past weekend’s active nights.
“The fire department continued its increased staffing levels and also lent several extra sets of eyes to be on the lookout for suspicious activities,” the city’s report stated. “... Fire personnel responded to calls for service while on the move, as they traversed the city reporting anything out of the ordinary to the police department.”
No curfew arrests
As for the curfew imposed over the weekend and through early Thursday morning, Drayna said there were no arrests for being out after curfew.
“Our Richfield residents have been very good at complying with the curfew and calling 911 to report suspicious activity. We have not arrested anyone for violating curfew,” Drayna said.
In planning each day, department personnel took a number of steps to make sure they were prepared for that night’s shift.
“Our department has continuously monitored a variety of intelligence sources, attended daily meetings, spoke with city leadership, reached out to local businesses, and spoke with numerous residents,” Drayna said. “This information is used to strategically staff our patrol teams and designate enhanced patrols in areas of concern.”
In other areas around Minneapolis, hidden caches of vessels filled with accelerants were located.
That was not the case in Richfield, Drayna said.
“We are not aware of any incendiary devices/containers being found within Richfield,” he said.
Throughout the weekend and into early this past week, Drayna said that no Richfield personnel sent into Minneapolis.
With the death of George Floyd still freshly embedded on social media and still heavily weighing on the minds of those here and around the world, Drayna said that changes in department policy are always something being reviewed.
“Our police department regularly examines its policies to ensure we are compliant with various regulations, laws, legal precedent, and best practices, especially those concerning use of force,” he told the Sun Current.
“The department recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity and is committed to resolving conflicts through the use of communication skills, crisis intervention and de-escalation tactics, when feasible. In vesting police officers with the lawful authority to use force to protect the public welfare, a careful balancing of all human interests is required. Therefore, it is the policy of the department that police officers use the minimum force that is reasonably necessary to effectively bring an incident under control, while protecting the life of the officer and others,” he added.
The stress incurred by officers in keeping order is also a factor that department officials take seriously. With this highly stressful set of circumstances, Drayna said that the health and welfare of officers, physically and emotionally, is something that is continuously monitored.
“Many of our officers have worked extensive overtime – some worked 85-plus hours within the past week,” Drayna said. “Although we have worked some long days and nights, we remain dedicated to serve our city. Our city has an exceptional employee assistance program, and our department is supplemented by spiritual counselors. We fully support the physical and mental health of our officers.”
The Richfield City Council came out early against the actions that led to the death of George Floyd and has also supported its police department.
In a statement issued the week protests began, the council had this to say about future policy, as well as their feelings toward city police personnel:
“It is clear that much change needs to happen to create systems and communities that are just, fair, transparent and inclusive across our city, state, and country. We promise to continue working day-in and day-out to ensure that all people feel and are valued and safe in our city. We are committed to doing this hard work in partnership with our residents, city staff, members of law enforcement, and our partners across the nation. True reform will take leadership and collaboration across all facets of our community, and we thank everyone who has been working tirelessly to achieve this goal.”
That statement was issued on city letterhead and authorized by Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez and Councilmembers Edwina Garcia, Mary Supple, Simon Trautmann and Ben Whalen.