Scott Johnson

Do you know what police officers find frustrating? Revolving doors. A case over the weekend is a good example of this.

At 8:15 p.m. on Saturday night Officer Shaun Pomplun received a radio call to respond to a local motel. A car had just been stolen. When he arrived, he met with the car owner. He learned that the man had parked his car in the parking lot and was around the corner talking with a friend when they heard his car start up. They saw the car pull out onto Fourth Street North and head west. A white male was driving the car. They phoned the police.

While waiting for Shawn to arrive, they saw the car once again, now being driven in the opposite direction, east on Fourth Street North. Now there were several people in the car.

Shawn asked the owner how someone could drive away with his car. The man told Shawn that he left the keys in the ignition of his unlocked car.

Shawn asked the dispatcher to broadcast an Attempt to Locate to all law enforcement officers in the county. The dispatcher also entered the vehicle license plate number into the nationwide crime computer. With that, any police officer in the nation that ran the license plate through the computer would learn that the car was stolen from Grand Rapids.

Shortly before midnight, Brooklyn Park Police spotted the vehicle. A check of the license number revealed that it had been stolen six hours earlier in Grand Rapids. Officers stopped the car and arrested the driver for auto theft, booking him into the Hennepin County Jail.

My first order of business each morning is to review police reports. On Monday morning, I read Officer Pomplun’s investigation report concerning this incident. I noted that the vehicle had been recovered and the driver was in the Hennepin County Jail.

I also noted that we had no record of the man in our countywide law enforcement records system. I queried his name on the internet and found a newspaper article dated June 10 in which he was arrested for drugs and auto theft in another county. The article stated that the man at that time was on probation for similar crimes. In digging further I learned that he had been arrested a number of times previously for stealing cars. I sent an email to the man’s Hennepin County Probation Officer suggesting that communities may be safer if this man remained behind bars.

Officer Pomplun’s report concluded by saying that he had notified the car owner of the arrest and recovery of his vehicle as well as the procedure to get his car back. Shawn also indicated that he would be referring the case to the Itasca County Attorney for charging review. I then checked down the hall to make sure a detective was following up with the county attorney.

In Minnesota there is something called the “36 hour rule” and the “48 hour rule.” In summary, these judicial rules say that an arrested person must be charged within 48 hours of being jailed or a judge must authorize that the person remain in jail until charging. With that in mind, I queried the Hennepin County Sheriff’s jail roster site. This site lists each inmate that is currently in the Hennepin County Jail. The man’s name was not on the list. I then checked his name in the “Released from Custody” portion of the site.

I learned that at 5:53 a.m. the Brooklyn Park Police Department booked him into the Hennepin County Jail for Felony Receiving/Concealing Stolen property aka: Auto Theft. At 1:34 p.m., that afternoon a Hennepin County Judge released him from jail on his own recognizance, even though he was on probation and with a past record of stealing vehicles. He walked out of jail with no bail set. How long do you think it will be before this man steals another car? Do you know what police officers find frustrating? Revolving doors.

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