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Local Police Response to Welfare Checks - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Local Police Response to Welfare Checks

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Law enforcement officers here in the Valley respond to several welfare checks daily. They train constantly for them, but many times, do not know what to expect.

Valley News Live rode along with an officer to find out what is going through their head when they get one of these calls.

As a nearly 14-year veteran of the West Fargo Police Department, Rhonda Jorgensen knows she always needs to be on her toes especially when it comes to welfare checks. 

"You don't know somebody's mental state, if there's mental health issues, if there's alcohol or drug use," says Jorgensen.

She goes on to say, "You're going into somebody else's home, somebody else's environment, something that is not familiar to you."

Hearing an officer in the region was killed also puts her a little more on edge. Jorgensen says, "It brings it back to reality that we encounter dangerous situations every day."

Since the beginning of the year, the West Fargo Police Department has had nearly 300 welfare checks. That could be checking on an animal if it is too hot outside or something like coming to a house and knocking on the door if a person that normally shows up for work did not make it that day.

If Fargo and Moorhead's checks are added, the total number of calls would be about 2500 this year.

Jorgensen says, "It's about doing your homework as to who lives there. Have you been to the residence before? Why have we been there?"

To keep officers safe, at least two officers are sent to a scene. They are constantly training to expect the unexpected and to react to that.

While no day on Jorgensen's job is ever the same, she has a little less stress knowing what happened in Cold Spring, Minnesota is not something she has to encounter every day.

In the face of tragedy, local departments will examine what happened in hopes of learning from it. If necessary, they will adjust their policies and procedures to handle these dangerous situations.

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