Deadly attacks targeting police officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have cops everywhere on guard about getting lured into an assassin's trap.
Minneapolis hasn't seen any targeted civilian-on-police violence, and officers there are taking every precaution to keep it that way. As of mid-July, 911 dispatchers in Minneapolis are asking for callers to verify their names before sending cops to the scene.
The new policy was implemented July 17, WCCO reports, coming in the immediate aftermath of the ambush attack that killed three on-duty officers in Baton Rouge. That city had been roiling with racial tension since the July 5 killing of Alton Sterling, a black man whose death at police hands was caught on film.
Likewise, the Twin Cities has seen its share of police and protester clashes since the death of Philando Castile, the black man killed during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights one night after Sterling was killed.
If a caller won't volunteer his or her name, or "relevant identity information," dispatchers will attempt to learn more about the alleged crime on their own before sending police into the area, WCCO says. The Minneapolis Police Department issued a statement explaining the protocol to the public, saying that the strategy is explicitly intended to prevent police from walking into an attack.
Here's that statement in its entirety:
The MPD has encouraged dispatchers to obtain as much information from 911 callers as possible; asking them to get the caller’s name or relevant information. Callers can request to not be seen by a responding officer in order for them to feel more comfortable in calling in, and they can request to not be contacted for follow up. We are asking dispatchers to get caller’s names, if possible, in an attempt to sift through fictitious calls that may be used to entice officers to an area where their safety, and the safety of others, could be jeopardized.
Worth noting: This background for the new police policy was released not on July 17, when it was implemented, but on July 28, Thursday, when the public began to learn of the policy through media reports.
The change was featured on Monday morning's episode of "Fox & Friends" on Fox News, which played a short clip featuring a dispatcher's exchange with a 911 caller. The woman on the line is calm but firm in her tone toward the civilian.
"It's very important for officer safety that we get names, because we have been targeted. And that's the reason why we are asking for names. OK, thanks a lot, I'm done with the conversation."