Smoke and mirrors

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.I have kept this column apolitical for 14 years. What you are about to read is not an endorsement of any candidate; I merely come to the defense of a group of people whose reputation as a whole has been maligned.

A candidate for political office (Sheriff’s Office Challenger, Craig Mattson)  in Pennington County  has consistently alluded to the illusion that there is a problem with teamwork and communication within the Law Enforcement Center in Thief River Falls. If you read no further then read this; this notion is nothing more than political grist for a political mill.

I work for the Sheriff’s Office in communications. Some of you probably know this however I have never made this fact a part of my column. I feel it is important for you to know this part of my life in this one instant.

Most people think of law enforcement as cop cars, guns, uniforms and handcuffs. These are elements of law enforcement but the real tools of this job are trust, communication and teamwork. You have to be able to accept your partner’s word as the truth so you can make decisions which are accurate and truthful. You have to communicate the truth well and quickly as the result of any incident may depend upon your communication.  Finally, in a work shift there may be two police officers and one deputy for a county that, for northwest Minnesota, is quite densely populated and so we must work well together as we will fail without teamwork. Trust, communication and teamwork are elements so entwined with the job of law enforcement that without them you can’t work in this building.

It has been rumored by this one political candidate that we can’t work together or communicate well. To say this is to make claim that we cannot perform our jobs in a professional manner. It is unfair and untrue; unfair to the officers, dispatcher and corrections officers and more importantly, misleading to the people who pay our wages.

We attend each other’s weddings and funerals, we help each other when someone gets sick and we all pull together when there is trouble on the street. We share information in order to work as one. You can mandate communication through policies but that doesn’t work near as well as the communication and teamwork between people who truly care about each and respect each other. We all get along and the Dispatchers, Deputies, Corrections Officers, Police Officers, State Troopers and BCA investigators I know are not only welcome at the Law Enforcement Center, our success is based upon their presence

I have agonized over whether to write this column. I have friends throughout city, county and state agencies and took their feelings into account. However, I won’t stand by and watch as my co-workers, my friends, and I are maligned with claims that we are unable to work together and unable to communicate. All claims used as a means to political gain.

In the end, I have heard people say that where there is smoke, there is fire. This is an old chestnut used by gossips for centuries in order to make themselves feel better about their own half-truths. In this case, if you follow the smoke you will find no fire. In this case, if you follow the smoke to its origination, you will find an entity-manufacturing smoke.

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