By Teri Knight, News Director
According to the Minnesota Crisis Intervention Team, one in five individuals live with a mental health condition. Many have contact with First Responders. How should they handle a situation with a potentially homicidal/suicidal individual or any number of other dangerous scenarios wherein deadly force may be used? All this week Rice County law enforcement took training through the Minnesota CIT, an intense 40 hours of multiple scenarios played out by professional actors. Northfield Police Chief Monte Nelson said, “They’re not easy scenarios and you’re expected to go all-in. It’s creating muscle memory and actually practicing what you learned in the classroom about de-escalation, how to recognize certain mental health concerns, what are the considerations I need to keep in mind on dealing with this type of mental health concern or drug concern, whatever, and how do I help that person without having to take some sort of severe action.” The scenarios are
facilitated by coaches. Fellow “students” also take part in dissecting what they did right and what they could improve on. CIT facilitator Nancy Masson said it’s all about de-escalation and that means communication. It’s about responding to cues and working with those to calm the situation — and always safety first. While de-escalation training is mandated by the state, it’s not paid for by the state. The Rice County Chemical and Mental Health Coalition, in partnership with Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, worked to apply for a grant to pay for this specific training from CIT. Nelson said the grant will pay for all law enforcement officers in the county to receive the training. The Crisis Intervention Team was created about 20 years ago in Minneapolis as a result of the shooting of a mentally ill person. Nelson explained, “In some really extreme circumstances, they looked for a better way. How do you deal better, as law enforcement officers, with people who are in whatever kind of crisis.” There’s a lot asked of police officers; I asked him why they do it. He paused, and said, “At the end of the day, it’s about service. It sounds sometimes cliche but part of putting on the badge is you put others before yourself.” Below are a few pictures and a short video of one of the scenarios. Be prepared for offensive language. All of the scenarios were from actual situations. (Note: I had to put this on my Garden Bite YouTube channel to be able to post it)
Council declines $1 million public parking
At a cost of nearly a million dollars, the Northfield Council said no to public parking. The developers of the 5th Street Lofts offered an opportunity for the city to pay for 35 climate-controlled public parking spaces as they build their 79-unit apartment complex at 5th and Washington Streets. The deal was that the city would pay them $92,000 a year for 10 years and then a dollar per year thereafter. Community Development Director Mitzi Baker commented on the possibility of charged parking; however, she noted that everywhere else is free. The city would also be responsible for maintenance. Rebound’s Brett Reese encouraged the council to say yes. Partner Nate Stencil of the Stencil Group, the builder of the project, told the council, “This portion of the project definitely adds a lot of complexity to it. From a development stance and from a return on our investment, it’s actually better not to have it.” He did, however, support Reese’s request to add the public parking. The council voted unanimously to decline the public parking option.
Cannon Cleanup Day tomorrow
It’s cleanup day tomorrow. The Cannon River Watershed Partnership (CRWP) is holding their annual cleanup event from 9 a.m. to noon. Kevin Strauss says there are two sites in Northfield where volunteers will gather at — Lions Riverside Park and the Carleton Arboretum parking lot off Highway 19. CRWP helps set them up, giving them equipment, but the community volunteers do the work, cleaning up the banks. The cleanups will take place in 10 locations along the Cannon. Go to crwp.net/cleanup for more information.