A LONG HOT SUMMER: AGGRAVATION AND ALCOHOL, Taser use rises
It's been a summer of ornery encounters.
Whether due to the heat, the humidity, the economy, the alcohol or drugs, cops and deputies in Hubbard County have been involved in several skirmishes this summer arresting suspects.
Officers have checked in at the emergency room for stitches and to have welts, bruises and other injuries checked out.
"We've been Tasering more people lately," said Park Rapids Police Chief Terry Eilers.
"There's a lot of agitation out there," agreed Hubbard County Sheriff Frank Homer.
"It's just another one of those, it all depends on who you run into and what the circumstances are, how much alcohol they've got in their system, what the issue is about, a domestic with the girlfriend or wife," Homer said.
The ornery trend seemed to start in July when a Park Rapids police officer went to a disturbance downtown.
Alan Robert Jacobson, 47, of Park Rapids, was involved in a domestic disturbance, according to the criminal complaint against him.
When the officer attempted to search an "intoxicated" Jacobson for weapons, the suspect took a swing at the officer. "F#ck you," Jacobson allegedly said "You ain't takin' my dope."
The officer had to use a defensive tactic called an "arm bar" to take Jacobson down. The suspect faces four charges, including assaulting the officer.
n On July 29, officers were called to another domestic incident in downtown Park Rapids.
Two deputies and a police officer responded. According to the criminal complaint, Travis Eugene Brown, 30, of Park Rapids, got into a skirmish with the officer during the takedown.
As the deputies escorted Brown to the squad car, "Brown attempted to run away and kicked wildly," the complaint states. He spit on one officer.
The two deputies were treated for injuries in the struggle.
Brown faces three charges, including an assault on a peace officer.
"People are cranky," Eilers said. "I think it has to do with... most of these guys don't have jobs. They're sitting around drinking or fighting with their live-ins or wives and when the cops show up they want to take them on, too, and that's just a bad thing to do."
n On Aug. 2, an officer tussled with an "intoxicated" Jordan Lynn Bell, 19, of Austin after an incident at a resort in which Bell allegedly removed his clothing and caused a disturbance.
"I'm drunk, just arrest me," Bell told the officer, according to the complaint.
The officer needed Hubbard County jailers to help him get Bell under control, the complaint states. He was unable to be transported to the hospital for a blood alcohol test because of the resistance, the complaint said.
"The little bit of what you're seeing is true from a summer of (high) temperatures and the humidity, family gatherings, friends, alcohol, drugs and it's kind of a recipe for trouble," Homer said.
"I think it's a combination of them being on drugs or alcohol and the hot weather and they're fed up with a lot of different things," Eilers said. "They're a little feistier. I know a couple of our guys have filed first injury reports because of certain things. And when you're wrestling with these guys, people do tend to get cut or hurt."
n On Aug. 3, officers arrested a combative man who allegedly tried to assault two downtown café workers.
Jason Daniel Kingbird, 33, of Bemidji, tried to assault both the arresting officer and employee who tried to subdue him, the criminal complaint states.
He was eventually transported to the jail, where he swore at a jailer "and kicked (the jailer's) right leg," the complaint states.
Kingbird faces two charges, including assault.
n On Aug. 10, it was a squad car that took the brunt of the damage in another combative arrest near Cass Lake.
Ronnie Cecelia Mae Burnette, 21, Federal Dam, was wrestled to a squad car during a disturbance, where she tried to "kick the doorframe and window" of the squad car out, according to the complaint.
She faces six charges, including one count of assault.
"We go through training especially with self-defense in not only how to defend yourself and secure the individual so nothing further takes place," Homer said. "That basically is the objective, not to fight back per se. But it's to protect yourself, secure the individual, place him in cuffs and transport him" or her.
And officers are trained with a zen-like approach not to get angry and escalate the situation, Homer said.
It's modeled after martial arts training, he said, emphasizing keeping your cool.
"With officers it's the unique ability," Homer said. "It doesn't turn into a fight. This is your job. This guy is trying to take you out. It's your job to cease whatever he's doing. Not to beat him up, not to put the boots to him. The job is to protect yourself by means of the self-defense you're taught."
And Homer said it takes extreme discipline not to retaliate.
Martial artists don't "flaunt what they know," Homer noted. "They have this skill and the discipline in case something happens to them or anyone around them."
Officers are trained to use that same restraint.
"There's a crew out there now we're dealing with that has no respect for anybody, not just us, anybody," Eilers said. "And they think they can argue and fight and push people around and it doesn't work that way.
"They're usually gonna lose on that," Eilers said. "The guys have been using their Tasers more. Some of these guys, it moves up the continuum of force."
If suspects don't respond to verbal commands, officers use pepper spray or an irritant. If that doesn't work, "they'll move up to the Taser."
As the hot summer wears on, law enforcement expects the cycle to break sometime, hopefully sooner rather than later.
"It's the chance you take every time you go out on a call," Homer said.