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Pioneer Editorial: Cheers and Jeers

Do your part to keep your vehicles safe

For the past decade, the Bemidji Police Department and Beltrami County Sheriff's Office have received a grant to help reduce and solve auto thefts in the area. The grant funds a full-time investigator for both departments in two-year increments. The result is fewer vehicle thefts, improved evidence collection tactics to prosecute suspects and better trained law enforcement.

In 2010, arrests for vehicle thefts cases were a mere 15.1 percent in Minnesota. Bemidji's arrest percentage is more than triple the state average and Beltrami County nearly double.

Local ordinance changes, like elsewhere, have aided in reducing the number of stolen vehicles as owners can face civil penalties for leaving keys in their vehicles.

However, more can be done to prevent thefts. Owners can save the headache of a missing vehicle, and help law enforcement in the process, by eliminating the convenience factor for would-be thieves. Police Chief Mike Mastin said many vehicle thefts are a crime of convenience.

Car and truck owners can do their part by locking their vehicles and keeping keys safe and secure.


A skating legend

A round of applause goes out to Inger Kroeplin, who retired after 35 years of coaching figure skaters in Bemidji. An accomplished champion born in Finland, she coached hundreds of area youth during her tenure here and helped build a respected and well-known program.


Ban synthetics

The state can do more in its fight against synthetic designer drugs, which pose a dangerous cocktail of chemicals.

The drugs - commonly known as 2C-E, K-2 and Spice to name a few - are often hallucinogenic, and mimic the effects of other banned substances such as LSD and Ecstasy.

Unfortunately, there have been a number of high-profile cases, mostly involving youth and young adults, who have used synthetic drugs.

Last week, the Minnesota House began considering making it a felony to sell synthetic drugs, which have compounds meant to mimic the effects of actual drugs. Last year lawmakers made the sale of these dangerous products a gross misdemeanor, but apparently the threat of jail time hasn't curbed the availability of the drugs.

To qualify under the law, synthetic products must have a high potential for misuse, no currently accepted medical use and known adverse side effects.

Last year, the Legislature banned a number of synthetic drug compounds, most frequently and easily purchased at some stores known as head shops.

The proposed bill would give the state Board of Pharmacy an expedited process to outlaw dangerous drugs as producers tweak the formulas to skate the law.