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March 2014 Archive

How DPS is Part of Your Life – Part 2

Posted on March 31, 2014
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety could be affecting your life in ways that aren’t visible every day. This is a continuation of our first blog post on how the DPS mission is part of your daily life.
Here’s a list of five (more) ways the Department of Public Safety may be serving you:
  1. If you use Minnesota’s roads and highways, you may encounter two DPS divisions. The Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) is one of them. Have you heard the seatbelt-safety motto, “Click it or Ticket”?  Maybe you received a pamphlet on child car seats when you left the hospital with your new baby. Or you may be aware of additional law enforcement patrols searching for impaired drivers on certain weekends and holidays. All those things are attributable to OTS. They educate, they arrange extra enforcement, they do community outreach to discourage distracted driving and impaired driving.  With federal funding, they are working to reduce traffic crashes and deaths in Minnesota. (Crash Facts, Table 1)

  2. The other DPS division that serves you on our roadways is the Minnesota State Patrol (MSP). State Troopers are well-known for a couple of things: Stopping the guy who passed you at the speed of light four miles back, and stopping to help victims at crash scenes. They spend much of their work days in squad cars, stopping drunk drivers, tracking down scofflaws and assisting motorists. They also deliver bad news, deliver testimony…they’ve even delivered babies. These men and women spend a lot of time in dangerous situations — you know what’s going to happen when the trooper pulls you over; he or she does not. Remember to move over when you see a Trooper, or any emergency vehicle, on the side of the road. It’s the law and it’s appreciated.

  3. There are more than 300 agents, analysts, scientists, IT experts, trainers and support staff working at the DPS Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in St. Paul, Bemidji and 10 field offices. Yes, they’re everywhere — investigating, analyzing, fingerprinting, compiling criminal histories, arresting criminals and locating missing people. BCA work is rewarding, and sooner or later, it affects most people in Minnesota. A crime prevented is one that doesn’t affect you; the one that’s solved promotes justice.

  4. Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement (AGE) sounds like a bunch of people who don’t want you to have any fun. But what this DPS division really does is assure that nobody’s ruining your fun. They enforce the laws that require the beer on tap to be what the tap-handle says it is; the slot machine pays out with reasonable frequency; the wine, beer and spirits you consume are manufactured under specific conditions; and that casino games are legal — and the “house” doesn’t have an unfair advantage. They enforce Minnesota’s laws in all things alcohol-and-gambling, and in so doing, assure that purveyors of those experiences follow them. That helps assure that your drinking or gambling experience is a safe, fair and legal one.

  5. The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) is unlike other divisions of DPS; they’re not so much concerned with regulation, enforcement or emergencies. OJP works to protect the rights of crime victims and make the criminal justice system more effective. They do research and publish data, provide training and assistance to agencies that fight crime, and award reparations to victims of violent crime. When OJP was created in 2003, it combined five programs from other state agencies into one operation that advocates for children in the justice system, abused individuals, and other victims whose voices sometimes aren’t heard.
Watch this space for more on the Department of Public Safety and everything that’s current in staying safe and ready!

DPS Mission is Part of Your Life – Part 1

Posted on March 28, 2014
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is a large agency; we’re about 2,100 people in 14 separate divisions, most of which interact with the public — but you may not even know when that happens.
Here’s a list of ways the Department of Public Safety may be serving you:
1. If you have a driver’s license or state ID card, you’ve interacted with DPS at the Driver and Vehicle Services Division (DVS). In 2013, DVS tested 500,000 drivers, issued 1,754,265 licenses and IDs, and processed 1.5 million titles. The Public Information Center staff handled 758,029 calls and the website provided info on tab-renewal, test scheduling, license status-checks, “snowbird” renewals and more.
2. fire investigators at the scene of a fire The State Fire Marshal Division (SFMD) is a DPS divison, too. The name may not ring a bell, but their work is all around you. The SFMD helps create and enforce fire codes to keep you fire-safe at home and elsewhere. (Local codes apply, too.) State Fire Marshal employees provide fire safety education, investigate fires, inspect public buildings and businesses, and help stop juvenile fire-setters. The “Fire Prevention Week” message your child brings home from school may have been created at DPS, and the “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery” campaign — that’s DPS, too.
3. Did you know there are 70,000 miles of pipeline carrying oil and gas under the ground in Minnesota? That distance is almost three times around the world…and the DPS Office of Pipeline Safety is charged with making sure it all operates safely. Preventing damage to underground utilities is a fulltime job that requires cooperation among energy companies, contractors, farmers, property owners, environmentalists — anyone who digs a hole in the ground or walks on top of it. MNOPS’ record is among the best in the U.S.
4. As you watch the coverage of a disaster on TV, emergency responders confidently pull out radios and talk with each other across miles and disciplines…911, police, fire, medical. In real life, that kind of efficiency requires extensive (and expensive) infrastructure, technology, planning and training. The DPS Emergency Communications Network Division and their partners handle all that for you. Right now, phase two of “Next Generation” 911 is about to launch, so responders can get real-time photos and other data on the scene they’re headed for. It’s another of those “there when you need it” projects that define much of the DPS mission.
5. The DPS Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division (HSEM) is another that serves you by staying ready for anything. It takes planning, know-how and coordination to respond effectively when mankind or Mother Nature causes catastrophe, and those are HSEM specialties. HSEM runs the State Emergency Operations Center, where agencies report during a disaster to coordinate efforts. They work with FEMA to get funding for clean-up and repairs, and mitigation money to prevent future problems. They provide training and educate the public, too. You may not be aware of HSEM until you need them, but that’s okay. They’re ready.
Next Monday, get the facts behind five more DPS divisions.