Blog Archive: March 2020

COVID-19 outbreak greaphic

How to spot a COVID-19-related scam

March 30

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best in many people. We’re checking on elderly family members and cheerily offering our neighbors six feet of distance when we pass them on the sidewalk. People are making and donating face masks. Whole neighborhoods are serenading hospital workers. But, as in every crisis, there are those who would take advantage of the situation for their own gain, and this is no time to let down our guard. In this case, cyber criminals know COVID-19 has created a lot of interest and fear, and they’re counting on the public’s interest in...

A dispatcher in front of computer screens

​What’s different about 911 calls during the COVID-19 emergency?

March 26

COVID-19 has changed the way we work, eat, learn, play, relax and live in general. Occasionally you hear about something the pandemic has changed that you’d never have thought about. Public safety answering points (PSAPs) or 911 dispatch centers may be one of those things. When you dial 911, your call goes to a PSAP, where a dispatcher asks you questions about your emergency and gets you the right kind of help as quickly as possible. Several days ago, the Department of Public Safety’s...

A woman looking out a window

How the COVID-19 pandemic can affect domestic abuse victims

March 23

The COVID-19 emergency has touched every Minnesotan’s life in one way or another. Most of us are staying home much more than we’re accustomed to. For some, it provides a chance to spend more time with our families and pets. But for others, home is the most dangerous place they can be. That’s because, for many domestic abuse survivors, a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic just makes things worse. Domestic abuse looks different in every relationship, but in every case, it’s a mechanism...

Two hotline operators answering phones at the State Emergency Operations Center

Here’s what DPS and HSEM are doing about COVID-19

March 19

In an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s all hands on deck for all Minnesota state agencies. But that requires a lot of coordination and information-sharing – and that’s where the Department of Public Safety division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) comes in. They provide the virtual resources and physical spaces where personnel can work together to help the public through the COVID-19 emergency. The best example is the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). It can be used for any public emergency or disaster...

Fire damage on the exterior of a home

Nearly half of this year’s fire deaths are due to smoking. We’re working to stop it.

March 16

Imagine that you haven’t heard from a 70-something friend for a while, so you go to his house to check on him. You find the house filled with smoke, and your friend is on the floor in front of his sofa. You call 911, and responding firefighters discover that the sofa had been on fire. Next to it are your friend’s ashtray and cigarettes. He never had a chance to get out – his smoke alarms weren’t working. A perfectly preventable death. The State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) wants these tragedies to stop happening...

A Public Information Center agent viewing customer messages on her computer screens

Behind the scenes at the DVS PIC

March 12

When you email a retailer’s customer service, it’s easy to assume the reply is from some sort of bot. And with many companies and agencies, you’d be right. But not when you call or email Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS). Carrie is one of the real human beings in the Public Information Center (PIC) who answers your emails (and sometimes your phone calls), so we sat down with her to find out what that’s like. On an average day, Carrie handles about 100 emails. That’s one every five minutes. Fortunately, it’s work she enjoys – she likes helping Minnesotans...

Beer tap handles at a bar

Are you getting what you pay for at the bar?

March 9

When you go to a bar or restaurant and order a drink, you probably don’t think about whether you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for. Nor should you. That’s what the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (AGED) of the Department of Public Safety is here for: Among other responsibilities, AGED inspects retail establishments that sell alcohol to make sure they’re compliant with the law and dealing honestly with their patrons. An AGED inspector usually shows up unannounced so that they can observe how the business is run on a daily basis. They check for the obvious things first...

Gov. Tim Walz speaks at a news conference at the new REAL ID office at MSP airport as DPS Commissioner John Harrington looks on

10 things to know about REAL ID and the new MSP REAL ID Office

March 5

The Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) division opened a REAL ID office inside the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this week. If you’re flying out of Terminal 1, the new office can save you a separate trip to DVS, a deputy registrar, or a driver’s license agent. But before you take off for the airport, here are 10 things you’ll need to know...

A handgun

The 2019 Permit to Carry Report is here

March 2

When it comes to Minnesota’s Permit to Carry annual reports, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is like a scribe: It takes information reported by local law enforcement agencies and compiles a report. In fact, firearms permits seem to be one of the topics people are most interested in. Web pages about permits to carry regularly account for about half of the top 10 pages visited on the BCA’s site. The 2019 Permit to Carry Report was released March 2. Among interesting data tidbits, the report shows that the number of permits issued is actually down from past years...