News from the Sleepy Eye Chief of Police

Matt Andres, Chief of Police, City of Sleepy Eye

We have experienced an uptick of thefts and burglaries over the last month. We have not had many but for Sleepy Eye a few is an uptick and certainly something that catches the PD’s attention as a possible issue. Over my years with the department, I have seen an uptick in numbers of thefts over a month become an epidemic that lasted many month or just an anomaly for one month that did not lead to anyfurther issues. 

I cannot stress enough the difficulty Law Enforcement faces in solving these crimes when there are no leads. 

In the past we have used DNA matching to solve burglaries, but it does not work like the movies. We need a suspect, and we need probable cause to get a warrant for that suspect’s DNA. I know the movies like to show an unknown DNA source run against all known criminals in the U.S.; this is not accurate. That situation also only takes and hour to a day to get results depending on the plot of the show. 

In reality, we need to meet a threshold to test DNA both on what we are testing and the type of crime. If a felony has not been committed it is highly unlikely the state lab will test DNA, even if we have a known suspect. When we do meet the threshold to test for DNA it takes months for the results to come back, we have had the results take half a year. It is not a quick or easy process. 

We are using cell phone technology to help us in these types of crimes but again we need to meet a minimum threshold to use this technology and we still need a known suspect and have enough probable cause to get warrants. 

I, and all Law Enforcement, have always recommended businesses get cameras and or alarms. When video of the crime is available the ability to solve these crimes rises quite a bit. Alarms help keep the crime from happening due to the audible alarm or notifying Law Enforcement while the crime is occurring. Video can lead Law Enforcement to a suspect and probable cause to obtain the warrants we need to further the investigation. 

I can only recommend businesses and residents get some form of crime deterrent. There are expensive systems and much cheaper systems that are good. 

Often in my career I have spoken to people who have been victims of these crimes that have a good idea who committed them. I often have a good idea who is committing them as well, or I can at least narrow down the suspect list to a handful of people. What victims have the most trouble understanding is that knowing isn’t proof. Just because we know, or are 99% sure we know, has nothing to do with charging someone with a crime. We must be able to prove it and with no evidence that ability to prove a suspect committed a crime is near impossible. 

I understand when victims are frustrated; please understand that Law Enforcement is frustrated as well. 

Inv. Bohnen recently attended a meeting with the Southern MM Investigators Coalition and many jurisdictions spoke that their numbers in thefts and burglaries are rising as well. 

We need help solving these crimes, we cannot charge anyone if we have no direction. If you are a business owner, please consider installing a system to help prevent these crimes.