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Farmington city officials get a safety lesson

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Farmington city officials get a safety lesson
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

A workshop for Farmington City Council and city commission members on Monday wasn’t designed to be depressing, but it was meant to make them think, “what if?”

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Farmington police officers Andrew VanDorn and Matt Hendrickson conducted a workplace safety presentation Monday. The two officers had done a similar presentation for city staff in the past.

It was, VanDorn told city officials, “a wake-up call.”

VanDorn is the school resource officer at Farmington High School. In that capacity, he’s done a lot of training for police and school staff on how to proceed in an active shooter situation. A lot of times, he said, the school shooter scenarios get more attention, because those incidents involve students.

But, he said, there are just as many of those situations that arise outside of a school building. And that’s where city officials should have a sense of what to do.

“People say, ‘I didn’t think that could happen here,’ or ‘That wouldn’t happen in Farmington,’” VanDorn said. “But this stuff can happen here.”

VanDorn referenced school shooting incidents like Sandy Hook Elementary and Columbine High School. But he also shared a 2004 incident where a disgruntled resident in Granby, Colo., built a reinforced bulldozer and destroyed several community buildings before taking his own life, and the story of a Little Falls man who took the Morrison County board of commissioners hostage in 2008.

“We want you to think about this stuff,” Hendrickson said, “what you can do, and what you can do to save yourself.”

The officers shared some of the lessons law enforcement has learned through the various tragedies that made national news. For instance, VanDorn said, one of the things that came out of the 2012 shooting in an Aurora, Colo. Movie theater was the understanding that police, firefighters and EMS providers need to come up with a communication system in case those types of situations come up. As a result, Farmington police have started that type of training with the Farmington Fire Department.

VanDorn and Hendrickson urged council members and city commissioners to think ahead, and to plan how they would react in various situations. It is that kind of planning, VanDorn said, that can be the difference between life and death.

For their part, Farmington officers will continue to do any training necessary so they are ready if one of these kinds of situations should ever arise locally.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and is the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
(651) 702-0974
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