Polar Plunge 2017 is Coming!

The Polar Plunge is coming to Eden Prairie on March 11! This is your opportunity to jump into the icy waters of Eden Prairie’s Riley Lake (or cheer on others!). The event is part of the Special Olympics Polar Plunge, a statewide fundraiser for Special Olympics Minnesota.

This is the 10th year a Polar Plunge event has taken place in Eden Prairie. During that time 4,579 people plunged, raising $972,677. This year we hope to crack the $1-million mark!

To date in 2017, 222 people have signed up to plunge and have raised $12,732 in online pledges. If you would like to join the fun and help raise money for the Special Olympics by either plunging or pledging, go to Polar Plunge Eden Prairie. If you’d like to learn more about the Polar Plunge, two EPPD officers will be at the lower level of Eden Prairie Center near JCPenney this Saturday, Feb. 11, from 11 to 1 with a squad car and information on how you can help support the Polar Plunge and Special Olympics Minnesota.

Law enforcement agencies have a close relationship with the Special Olympics. The EPPD helps out with a number of annual Special Olympics fundraising events, including the Polar Plunge, under the umbrella of the Special Olympics Torch Run. Law enforcement officers are considered to be the “Guardians” of the “Flame of Hope” which is lit during the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympics games each summer.

Serving the EPPD and Our Country

Officers Mason Heine and Evan Hynek at their swearing-in last September with Chief Jim DeMann

This month two EPPD officers will be going on military leave and serving our country, rather than just our community, for a brief time.

Officer Mason Heine serves in the 257th Military Police Company, Minnesota Army National Guard. He is deploying to Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba and is expected to return in late 2017.

Officer Evan Hynek, who is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Minnesota Army National Guard, is leaving for Army Logistics University at Fort Lee, Va.  He will attend an Ordinance Basic Officer Leadership Course and is expected to return in June of this year.

Both officers served as Community Service Officers for the EPPD before becoming sworn officers in September 2016.

We are proud to support them as they serve our country and look forward to their safe return home.

Learning About Parkinson’s

This month during the EPPD’s monthly training, National Parkinson Foundation Minnesota provided training to department personnel. The City’s Human Rights and Diversity Commission recommended the training so our officers could learn more about Parkinson’s disease and how to respond to calls involving people who have the disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects one in 100 people over age 60 and whose symptoms include tremors, slowness of movement, stiffness and trouble with balance. It is estimated that one-million people in the U.S. and five-million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease.

Officers learned that people with Parkinson’s may need to do tasks more slowly and without stress. This is helpful for officers to know when pulling over a driver with the disease. For example, an officer can give the driver extra time to find license and insurance information and can attempt to alleviate any stress the driver may be experiencing.

People with Parkinson’s may also exhibit behavior that mimics the signs of intoxication. Officers were encouraged not to jump to conclusions and to ask more questions of the person before determining their next steps.

In addition, officers learned that people with Parkinson’s may experience a loss of facial expression, also known as facial masking. This condition may make a person look bored or uninterested when in fact they are actually engaged and attentive.

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in the United States. One of the EPPD’s initiatives for 2016-17 is to proactively investigate, respond to and prevent possible incidents of human trafficking in Eden Prairie.

The department uses a three-pronged approach to combat the issue: 1) victim outreach and recovery, 2) enforcement action against traffickers (aka pimps), and 3) enforcement action against demand (aka johns). We also work to send the message to the community by speaking to civic, professional and liturgical organizations.

In 2016 the EPPD conducted four human trafficking stings in Eden Prairie and arrested 27 people. In addition the department has assisted with other stings in the metro area that have resulted in numerous arrests. We’ve also provided support to victims through Safe Harbor, a statewide program that provides supportive services, including shelter and training, for juveniles who have been victimized.

In addition, a local group of knitters has been making hats, scarves and blankets for human trafficking victims which they donate to the EPPD and we distribute.

If you or someone you know is being sexually exploited or trafficked please call 911 or Safe Harbor’s Day One Hotline at 1-866-223-1111.

Stopping a Fraud Suspect

ATM machineDuring the evening hours of Dec. 2, 2016, the EPPD received a call from a Bremer Bank Loss Prevention Services employee stating they had received an alert notifying them that someone had used eight stolen credit cards at an ATM drive-thru at the Bremer Bank in Eden Prairie to withdraw $2,700.

An hour later, Bremer Bank called again stating that the same man was attempting to use a stolen credit card at the same ATM. The bank’s Loss Prevention employee was able to view live video footage of the ATM and gave police a detailed description of the suspect. Officers arrived but the man already left. During these two encounters the man had withdrawn $6,600 using 17 cards.

Two hours later Bremer Bank called a third time to report the same man was using fraudulent cards at the same ATM. The suspect had used nine cards to withdraw an additional $3,400. Officers responded to the ATM and found a man matching the suspect’s description. The man was arrested and a search warrant was issued to search his hotel room where they found cash and miscellaneous credit cards issued in other people’s names.

The total loss was $10,000 from 21 victims. He has been charged with felony identity theft.

Investigators learned that the man was from New York and that he had been sent to Minnesota for the purpose of withdrawing large sums of money from this particular Bremer Bank ATM. The man is likely part of a larger fraudulent financial card ring operating out of New York.