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Police receive award for retail loss program

The Albert Lea Police Department was recognized Monday for its adoption of a retail loss-prevention program.

The department received the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association’s Excellence in Innovation Award Honorable Mention.

Through the program, police partner with store owners in sharing data, including suspect information, and commit to a rapid response that has helped Albert Lea police finish ahead of larger law enforcement agencies such as Bloomington, Metro Transit and Shakopee for the award, according to a press release.

“Through these continued collaborative efforts with our private-sector partners, successful outcomes have occurred,” said J.D. Carlson, Albert Lea deputy director of police, in a press release. “We’ve made numerous arrests for these types of crimes, and retailers have been educated and have decreased their losses since the partnership began.”

Albert Lea Lt. Jeff Strom said he and Albert Lea detective Ben Mortensen began the program about three years ago after police noticed offenders were shoplifting across different stores and communities.

The awareness group meets at 1 p.m. the first Thursday of every month at the Freeborn County Courthouse.

There are organized shoplifting operations, Strom said, adding that they are often drug-fueled. Any retail business interested in participating in the program is advised to call Strom at 391-5254. 

According to the release, Plymouth police took the top prize in the large agency category for its holistic approach to officer wellness. Wyoming police topped the small agency category with its social media program that has gained national attention, and Eveleth police received Honorable Mention in the small agency category.

This year was the MCPA’s second annual Excellence in Innovation Award, which was sponsored by 3M and Axon. Nominees were judged by their level of innovation, program effectiveness, ability for other departments to replicate the initiative and the overall impact the program is having on the community or department.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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