After 16 years of secrecy under the reign of Bob Fletcher, a new sheriff is serving the citizens Ramsey County, Minnesota.
On Tuesday, Jan. 4, Matt Bostrom was sworn into the county's top law enforcement position.
With Fletcher gone, we hope our Data Practices Act request (PDF) for information about Fletcher's anti-terrorism campaigns will finally get a lawful response.Posted by Karen Hollish on 01/05/11
I'd hoped to savor a stack of Terrorism Information Briefs last holiday weekend, but the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department is still ignoring my Data Practices Act request.
In our only conversation, Public Information Officer Holli Drinkwine said the department doesn't have any records of its anti-terrorism work.
That's odd, considering how Sheriff Bob Fletcher touts his department's supposed anti-terrorism successes -- and its production of 78 Terrorism Information Briefs since 2005 -- in its own report.
The graphic below, taken from Sheriff Fletcher's own election campaign Web site, presents even more evidence that Drinkwine's claims are false. Halfway down the chart the department's "Counter Terrorism Unit" is listed as one way Fletcher kept "crime on the run."
But no records of this unit's work exist? How can that possibly be?
More evidence that Fletcher and Drinkwine are being less-than-forthright surfaced in the archives of E-democracy.org.
On December 29, 2005, Gary Olding joined the "Sheriff Fletcher's Creative Leadership" thread to share this:
I am in charge of the Sheriffs Department Weapons of Mass Destruction - Prevention, Research, and Preparedness Unit. I am responding to one posters request for more information regarding our unit.
After 9-11 all of our lives changed and so did the way we have to look and think about our future. Sheriff Fletcher created the WMD unit in 2002 to be a proactive positive influence to ensure the safety of the Ramsey County Sheriffs Department and the citizens of our community in the event of a catastrophic event.
WMD unit members are comprised of personnel with a vast amount of knowledge and training in Investigation, Fire, Explosives, Hazmat, EOD, Intelligence, Incident, Command, Analysis, Risk Assessment and Domestic & International Terrorism. I am a retired St. Paul Firefighter. I retired as Deputy Fire Chief after 28 years of service and came to the Sheriffs Office to head up this new initiative.
The unit mission is as follows:
Prevention / Investigation
We conduct investigations, surveillance, and develop informants to preempt and solve crimes involving weapons of mass destruction and terrorism before they occur. Recently some of our unit members were involved with the recovery of several pounds of TNT that was possibly intended for the BCA building or another law enforcement agency.
We research potential domestic and international threats from terrorist organizations. Identifying the most likely means and motives utilized by suspected terrorist organizations.
Preparing the Ramsey County Sheriffs Department and other local public safety agencies to respond to potential weapons of mass destruction incidents. We are constantly developing and coordinating partnerships with local, state, and federal resources to facilitate response to WMD incidents. Our partners include numerous agencies including the FBIs Joint Terrorism Task Force and Minnesota Joint Analysis Center.
Our unit also serves as the coordinating agency for the entire east metro terrorism response. Monthly meetings, chaired by Sheriff Fletcher, brings together all disciplines involved in WMD in the East Metro Area. This group includes over 60 different agencies with a variety of backgrounds.
I could elaborate much more on the Sheriffs leaderships in dealing with prevention, preparedness, response and training when it comes to a WMD/Terrorism incident but there are too many to mention. Whether the threat is man made (WMD) or created by natural causes (influenza), the sheriff has shown his leadership. Case in point, Sheriff Fletcher held the first Pandemic Flu Summit in the state of Minnesota.
Bob Fletcher is a visionary manager but he is also a good person. I have crossed paths with Sheriff Fletcher and Retired Police Chief Finney for the past 30 years. I consider both of them a friend. From my dealings with Sheriff Bob Fletcher, I always recall something he once told me. If youre doing good, you cant be doing wrong. this may sound simplistic but I have witnessed Bob doing random acts of kindness to/for total strangers many times. This is the way he leads his life.
Phone and email messages left last week at the Sheriff's Office for Olding have not been returned.
Perhaps, as Olding maintains, Sheriff Fletcher has been "doing good" for the citizens of Ramsey County.
Now is the time for him make good on his responsibility as a public servant to follow the Data Practices Act.Posted by Karen Hollish on 11/30/10
Three emails, five voice mails and 23 days later, I finally heard back from the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office about our Data Practices Act request.
As for the 33 terrorist groups the department investigated in 2009, according to its own report?
They don't have anything on file about that, Public Information Officer Holli Drinkwine said.
"I don't think we have any of the terrorism briefs," Drinkwine said Friday, November 12. "I think that's what (our department) gets from the feds. I think they put those things together."
The "feds," Drinkwine explained, are the Minneapolis Joint Terrorism Task Force, of which the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office is a partner.
Drinkwine said "three or four" other journalists have already approached her for this same information; as in our case, she referred them to the JTTF.
Part of Sheriff's annual report
"I think you're going to get better answers out of them," she said.
But why? Even if the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office didn't write the briefs, as Drinkwine maintains, wouldn't they at least keep copies of them?
"We don't create them," she said. "If we didn't generate them, we don't keep them."
I told Drinkwine it seemed her department should have these records, and that the Twin Cities Daily Planet and I are committed to following through with this process until we get them.
She said she'd look into it again -- but that I shouldn't expect to hear from her next week. Drinkwine lost her job when Sheriff Bob Fletcher lost the election, and she has to use up her accrued vacation and personal time, she said.
I'm interested in hearing what Drinkwine will say when she's back to work on Monday, Nov. 22.Posted by Karen Hollish on 11/17/10