Bob Ayotte

Bob Ayotte

An aphorism that I say too often to friends and family members is “Don’t do a ready, fire, aim.” That is a reference to people who make unwarranted criticism about subject matter without sufficient research or due diligence. As a result, many of us confuse our “opinion” as fact.

Well shame on me! I just came close to doing a “ready, fire, aim,” but avoided the mistake. How did I do that? How else, I listened to my wife. With a few well-placed suggestions, she made sure I exercised due diligence on an important topic: public safety. Immediately, I started a fact-finding journey on the subject. To my delight, I found a lot of good and not so much to criticize.

One of my initial discoveries was something called the Carver County Crime Viewer. It’s a program that the Sheriff’s Office started back in 2010.

Simply put, it’s a computer application that tracks a variety of crimes that are committed in our community. It is a snapshot of criminal activity in the county. Any resident can see the quantity and location of assaults, burglary, drug violations, property damage, theft, traffic incidents and vehicle theft in a given period of time. This tool helps the sheriff with accident reduction/traffic enforcement measures. It is also used to help develop patrol details and investigative efforts.

The sheriff wants the public to use this tool to educate us so we know where the crimes are committed and what crime activity is most prevalent.

If this old grunt can manipulate the application to zero in on specific neighborhoods/streets/ schools and overlay where the crimes have occurred, any resident with a little bit of computer savvy can do the same.

The sheriff is willing to help neighborhood watch groups use the Carver County Crime Viewer to assist efforts to protect our neighborhoods. Give the Sheriff’s Office a call. Ask for Lt. George Pufahl to make the appropriate arrangements for a down and dirty tutorial. And for those computer wizards out there who have had a chance to use Crime Viewer, and would like some enhancements, again, contact Lt. Pufahl.

The Sheriff’s Office is in the process of reviewing the program for possible upgrades. The sheriff wants the public to use this tool to help educate and provide transparency. Keep this in mind: “His deputies face what we fear.” The sheriff will take all of the help we are willing to give. Our sheriff is taking the actions needed to conduct the necessary reconnaissance, patrolling and preventive measures to keep us safe. He wants us to participate.

Along my fact-finding journey, I heard rumblings about a shortage of Carver County Sheriff deputies. In tandem with a possible shortage of personnel, the news media has been busy filling me with opinions rather than facts regarding those shortages.

Following all the illegal antics going on at the national level and the mayhem that has happened in the Twin Cities, Carver County communities and other Minnesota counties could very well be feeling the impact. I cannot be certain if our community was experiencing police shortage nor its impact if there is a shortage. (Here’s another good reason why crime mapping is important.)

A recent American Experiment issue entitled “Officer shortage spreads to police departments statewide” stated that the increase in crime and the shortage of police officers could have scary consequences.

In fact, with a little digging, I found out that the Carver County Sheriff’s Office not too long ago was short approximately 15 deputy sheriffs. Again, here comes the pleasant surprise. Unlike other outstate communities, our Sheriff’s Office has not been standing still. We are currently near full staff on deputies. And that is not from outside assistance or influence. It is from a Sheriff’s Office conducting due diligence in making sure we are safe.

As one of our U.S. senators so aptly put it, “Police officers put the badge on every morning not knowing for sure that they come home at night to take it off.” Now here is an aphorism that I am going to use over and over again!

Bob Ayotte is a Chanhassen resident and a former Chanhassen city councilor. Ayotte, a retired colonel, served 30 years in the military, later working for 20 years as a government employee in the Department of the Army.