SENIORS VOLUNTEER. Laverne and Bob Robideau volunteer their time through RSVP and serve as bailiffs for the Sherburne County courts. (Photos by Jennifer Edwards).

Seniors learn about safety

Subhead: 
Staff Writer
Jennifer Edwards
Wednesday morning Sherburne County seniors spent the day with local law enforcement officials at the 18th annual Seniors and Law Enforcement Together  (SALT), day out at The Friendly Buffalo in Big Lake.
Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott welcomed everyone to the event, which began with a demonstration of CPR presented by Steve Dittbrenner of the Elk River Ambulance Service.
After a short break Judge Mary Yunker addressed the seniors, sharing with the seniors what a day in the life of a judge is all about.
Sherburne County Attorney Kathleen Heaney gave updates from the County Prosecutors Office. Karla Kreuger shared information about Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance, which is available to senior citizens.
There was another short break before City of Becker Chief of Police Brent Baloun, City of Big Lake Chief of Police Joel Scharf, City of Elk River Chief of Police Brad Rolfe and Sheriff Brott gave updates on crime statistics in the community.
Overall, crime in the cities has declined but the sheriffs’ department is answering more calls for service in the townships.
“Calls for service were up significantly,” Sheriff Brott said.
In 2013, there were 19,580 calls to the sheriff’s office for assistance. In 2011, there were 14,000 and in 2012 there were 18,00 calls. Many of these were traffic issues.
The City of Elk River has seen a decrease in calls from a high of 28,000 to 20,000 in 2013, and a decline in criminal activity, but traffic incidents have increased.
“We have a lot of people traveling north through Elk River on Hwy. 169 and Hwy. 10,” Chief Rolfe said.
“Thefts of property have also increased so lock your cars and your garage and don’t leave items in plain sight.”
Chief Rolfe also talked about the high level of cooperation between law enforcement agencies he witnessed when Daisy Jo Holland disappeared from Wapiti Park campground on the Elk River. The three- year old had accidentally drowned.
They also dealt with a fire at Evans Meadows senior apartments. Everyone was safely evacuated outside. 
There were two fatal crashes, one a young man on a motorcycle and one woman hit head-on by a drunk driver, Chief Rolfe reported.
A man who robbed the Elk River T-Mobile store was captured in Chicago after calling police to complain he had been robbed.
Other issues for the local chiefs includes the resurgence of use of the drug heroin, fraud and dog issues. 
Chief Rolfe also reminded everyone not to try to cross the railroad tracks when the crossing arms were down after cars were hit by trains two days in a row. Fortunately, nobody died in these incidents.
Drug Task Force
Sherburne County has its own drug task force, Sheriff Brott said and last year they investigated 54 cases which led to arrests. There were 129 DUI arrests, 191 criminal damage to property cases and three homicides. 
One was the case of a mother in Zimmerman who drowned her two young children. The other was a murder suicide involving a couple from Becker, sheriff Brott said.
Burglaries are down while thefts have increased. There was also a slight increase in the number of DUIs issued and the number of drivers texting and driving, Sheriff Brott said.
Commissioner Mike Rothman from the Minnesota Dept. of Commerce talked to the seniors about protecting themselves from financial crimes.
“Savvy seniors don’t get scammed,” he said, noting 80% of fraud goes unreported. “Some seniors are too embarrassed to admit they were duped and lost their money.”
“Then there are cases of affinity fraud, when the person knows who took their money but they don’t want to report it and get them into trouble,” he said.
Jail Tour
After a break for lunch seniors were given a tour of the Sherburne County Jail, which was completed in 2005. The jail consists of seven housing units and employs over 100 officers.
It has its own medical suite, including a dental office. All the doors in the jail are opened and closed from a master control room. There is also a special housing are in the oldest part of the jail for prisoners who need closer supervision.
Inmates do their part to keep the jail clean. Trustees wash and sort laundry. Prisoners attend class or groups like AA and Pilot’s Outreach. 
It takes one officer to supervise 60 inmates. There are currently around 550 prisoners housed at the jail, which is one of the few jails in the country to house federal inmates.
The SALT Council includes senior volunteers, Elk River Activity Center, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, Sherburne County Attorney’s Office, Guardian Angels of Elk River and Sherburne County law enforcement.

photos


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