Homeless Outreach in Dakota County (1/23/2020)

Last night was the annual Point In Time count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. As I have in the past I went out with Amber from Ally Supportive Services, who does homeless outreach in Dakota County. The PIT count isn’t perfect but it provides insight into the scope if the issue. Thankfully, this time of year there is more “couch hopping” and other resources to get people out of the cold. The unsheltered population grows in the warmer months. No one was home when we visited these camps but Amber left information about available services and a bag of toiletries and other items. We were joined by Caleigh, a staff person from Congresswoman Craig’s office. We need federal and state lawmakers to each do our part to cut red tape and expedite the process when there is an opportunity to house someone.

Last night was the annual Point In Time count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. As I have in the past I went out with Amber from Ally Supportive Services, who does homeless outreach in Dakota County. The PIT count isn't perfect but it provides insight into the scope if the issue. Thankfully, this time of year there is more "couch hopping" and other resources to get people out of the cold. The unsheltered population grows in the warmer months. No one was home when we visited these camps but Amber left information about available services and a bag of toiletries and other items. We were joined by Caleigh, a staff person from Congresswoman Craig's office. We need federal and state lawmakers to each do our part to cut red tape and expedite the process when there is an opportunity to house someone.

Last night was the annual Point In Time count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. As I have in the past I went out with Amber from Ally Supportive Services, who does homeless outreach in Dakota County. The PIT count isn’t perfect but it provides insight into the scope if the issue. Thankfully, this time of year there is more “couch hopping” and other resources to get people out of the cold. The unsheltered population grows in the warmer months. No one was home when we visited these camps but Amber left information about available services and a bag of toiletries and other items. We were joined by Caleigh, a staff person from Congresswoman Craig’s office. We need federal and state lawmakers to each do our part to cut red tape and expedite the process when there is an opportunity to house someone.

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Appreciating the work of local law enforcement (12/22/2019)

Over the past two weeks I have stayed up way past my bedtime to ride along with law enforcement officers in the district I represent.

I saw them treat the public with respect, empathy, and understanding without being judgemental. I saw them give tickets and I saw them give breaks.

I saw a man on the worst day of his life, whose decisions that night will have repercussions for years. I saw officers with guns drawn take a non-compliant man into custody safely, with no one getting hurt.

Officer Rob Swanson, Cottage Grove Police Department

Officer Rob Swanson, Cottage Grove Police Department

I saw a woman who could barely walk back to the squad car and failed to even attempt a field sobriety test, then blew a 0.0 on the breathalyzer. A cornucopia of illegal drugs were found in her vehicle. There’s no question she would have attempted to drive home when she woke up had someone not called police when they saw her slumped over the steering wheel, passed out.

I saw a ticket issued for driving 107 MPH, but a break given by not adding careless driving to the charges.

I was involved in executing a felony arrest warrant and rescuing a cat from a burning building.

I saw a man who wanted to end his life, talked off a bridge by two young women who happened to drive by at exactly the right time.

These are every day occurrences for law enforcement officers. What I witnessed is nothing compared to what they experience on every shift.

I learned that these officers back each other up physically and emotionally, not only their partners from their own department but across departments.

I saw an officer pull over to take a call from a partner to advise on a situation, then minutes later watch his back when they both responded to a domestic disturbance.

Deputy Tony Wilen, Dakota County Sheriff's Office

Deputy Tony Wilen, Dakota County Sheriff’s Office

I want to thank Officer Rob Swanson from the Cottage Grove Police Department, Deputy Dave Eichman of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Officer Jake Willers of the Hastings Police Department and Deputy “Tropical” Tony Welin from the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office and their partners for tolerating me and teaching me about their jobs.

They educated me about the many challenges in their work but also how much they love the job.

I also want to thank Sergeant Pat Nickle and Chief Pete Koerner of the Cottage Grove Police department, Commander Doug Anschutz and Sheriff Dan Starry from Washington County, Sergeant Dave Bauer and Chief Bryan Schafer from Hastings Police Department and Sergeant Matt Regis and Sheriff Tim Leslie from Dakota County who all approved and supported the ride alongs.

To all law enforcement officers who protect and serve all day and all night, every day and every night, I want to say thank you and ask that you get home to your family safely after your shift.