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Blog Archive: August 2019


A trooper hugging her children

Protecting those who protect us

Aug. 29

If you’ve ever had to stop on the shoulder of a highway for an emergency – a flat tire, say, or an empty gas tank – you know how nerve wracking it can be. Cars and trucks whiz past you at 50 or 60 mph, whipping your clothes and hair. You just have to hope they’re paying close enough attention to the road that they can avoid hitting your car or, worse, you. This is a danger that Minnesota state troopers and other law enforcement face every day. In fact, so far this year, a total of 31 State Patrol squad cars have been hit by passing vehicles while parked on the edge of the road, and eight troopers...


A dryer vent on fire

What do clean dryer vents and working smoke alarms have in common?

Aug. 26

Remember your grandma’s stories about hanging the laundry – every bedsheet, every sock – out to dry on the clothesline? It’s so nice not to have to do that. The clothes dryer in your basement sure is a luxury. But if it’s not well-maintained, that “luxury” can turn into a nightmare: a major risk to you, your family, and your property. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an average of 2,900 dryer fires are reported each year, and failing to clean the dryer is the leading cause of those fires. If a dryer isn’t cleaned...


A DVS employee behind a service counter

Minnesota has a new ‘Fast’ solution for vehicle services

Aug. 22

Sometimes when something doesn’t work the way it should, you have to scrap it and move on. That was the conclusion an independent expert review panel came to about the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS). According to the panel, MNLARS’ architecture is sound, but it was too risky to continue to develop it. Instead, the panel recommended a packaged software solution to replace the custom-built MNLARS. The state of Minnesota put out a request for proposals in June 2019, and the only response was from a company called Fast Enterprises. Fast already developed...


A driver performing a field sobriety test for an officer during a traffic stop

Sober ride or DWI? The choice isn’t hard.

Aug. 19

Embarrassing. Life-changing. Expensive. Getting a DWI can be all of these things. But it can also be life-saving – and not just for you, but for every driver and passenger who travels Minnesota’s roads with the assumption that they will arrive at their destination unharmed. Last year in Minnesota, law enforcement officers arrested nearly 27,000 people for driving under the influence. But despite their best efforts, 84 people died in drunk driving-related crashes. These were preventable deaths. Right now, over 300 law enforcement agencies are redoubling their efforts to get drunk drivers...


Fire investigators search through a car after a garage fire

Fire investigations: More than just ashes

Aug. 15

What images come to mind when you think of fire investigations? Perhaps an investigator in sooty gear, sifting through piles of ash in the smoking aftermath of a fire? Finding a piece of evidence that has burned beyond recognition and is now the size of a grain of sand? Using it to figure out what happened in this burnt-out shell of a building that was once someone’s livelihood or home? You’re right: Fire investigators — including our 12 State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) investigators — do all those things. But there’s more to it than that. Once they leave the scene, they shed the...


Blue Alert Test: 1:10 p.m. Thursday

Special edition: An alert of a different color

Aug. 13

We’ve all seen AMBER Alerts – those notices that help law enforcement find abducted children with the public’s help. But most people have probably never heard of a Blue Alert. That will change this Thursday, August 15, when we perform a statewide test of the Minnesota Blue Alert System at 1:10 p.m. When a local, state or federal law enforcement officer is killed or seriously wounded in the line of duty, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) can issue a Blue Alert that includes detailed vehicle information as well as information about the suspect and the circumstances...


Trooper badges on a board at graduation

A year in the life of a new state trooper

Aug. 12

The rows of shiny new badges have all been taken down and pinned on their owners. The graduation ceremony is over. The photos of proud new Minnesota state troopers have been sent to families and friends. But an academy graduate doesn’t become a full-fledged trooper until 12 months after graduation. So what happens in the meantime? A new trooper is assigned to a district (and all troopers have to live within 10 miles of the station they work out of). Generally, a district consists of a town or city and its surrounding county or counties, such as the Golden Valley District or the...


REAL ID compliant Minnesota driver's license

Renewing your license? Get your REAL ID now!

Aug. 8

You know that thing where you have a deadline, but it’s a long way off and you think, “I’ve got plenty of time,” and the next thing you know the deadline is right on top of you? Don’t let that happen with REAL ID. Sure, the deadline isn’t until Oct. 1, 2020, but after that you’ll need a REAL ID (or an enhanced driver’s license or ID, or a passport) to board a domestic flight or get into a federal facility. So why not get your REAL ID now? If you’re worried it’ll be cost prohibitive, consider that a REAL ID costs the same as a standard driver’s license or ID card. If you want to apply for a REAL ID before your...


Locked school doors with directions to enter through the office

How the Minnesota School Safety Center helps keep your children safe

Aug. 5

Did you ever think of a school as a miniature community? If not, that’s okay: The Minnesota School Safety Center (MnSSC) does. And just like regular communities, school communities need infrastructure: transportation (school bus operations), healthcare (school nurses), food systems (lunchroom procedures) and public safety. That last part is where the MnSSC comes in. They help schools develop guidelines and processes to run smoothly and stay safe from threats, from fires to intruders...


A hand on a steering wheel with a phone in a vent mount

We’re all going hands-free together

Aug. 1

If it feels like your news feed has been stuck on the “All Hands-Free All the Time” channel for the past couple of months, that’s because the new hands-free law goes into effect today, Aug. 1. People and organizations all over Minnesota have been working tirelessly to get the word out, including the media, law enforcement agencies, high schools and universities, community councils, and private businesses, just to name a few. And there’s a reason everyone is talking about it: Preliminary numbers from 2014 to 2018 show that distracted driving contributes to nearly one in five...