Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An unsettling phone call involving a “situation” March 11, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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MY LANDLINE RINGS. It’s a few minutes before 8 a.m. Monday. My heart lurches. Phone calls early in the morning scare me. Usually the caller bears bad news. I hesitate, then pick up the receiver.

A recorded voice from the Rice-Steele County Dispatch Center delivers this message after I am instructed to push one:

Faribault Police Department and SWAT team is currently involved in a situation in the southwest part of Faribault. Citizens are not at risk and are advised to stay out of the area.

Alright then. That’s pretty general and raises all sorts of questions.

First, what’s happening?

Second, where in southwest Faribault and how do I know what area to avoid if I’m not given the location of this “situation”?

Third, if there’s no risk, then why was I called?

Fourth, is it safe for me to go outdoors?

The wooded hillside in my backyard blocks the view of my entire neighborhood.

The wooded hillside in my backyard blocks my view of Wapacuta Park and the adjoining neighborhood.

Nothing appears unusual in my neighborhood. However, because I live in the valley with a wooded hillside abutting a city park in my backyard, I don’t have a full scope view.

I dial the radio to the local station for the morning news. Nothing. I check the police department’s Twitter account. The last update was three days prior.

I hung out the laundry.

I hung out the laundry shortly after receiving the call about a “situation” in southwest Faribault.

I determine it’s safe to hang my laundry in the backyard.

I do.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo used here for illustration purposes only.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo used here for illustration purposes only.

Later, I will learn from a Faribault Daily News staff member’s Twitter account, that the “situation” occurred about two blocks from my home by Wapacuta Park. The park up the hill borders my property. Had the wooded hillside not blocked my view, I would have seen the law enforcement presence resulting after a suicidal man reportedly barricaded himself in a home. With a two-month-old. And guns.

Thankfully, the situation was peacefully resolved. About 2 ½ hours after receiving that warning call, my phone rang again with a message that the “situation” had ended.

The presence of SWAT teams in my neighborhood is not new to me. Once, many years ago, when a young man was murdered two blocks away in a drug deal gone bad, a team swept through the area searching for the murder weapon, a knife.

A Rice County sheriff squad and two Faribault police cars follow the SWAT team and ERU vehicle up First Avenue Southwest.

A Rice County sheriff squad and two Faribault police cars follow the SWAT team and ERU vehicle up First Avenue Southwest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo May 2010.

I once saw SWAT and ERU vehicles, followed by police and sheriff cars, proceeding up a side street past my house.

Each time, it was unnerving. Scary.

That brings us back to Monday morning. Should southwest Faribault residents like myself have been given more information? Personally, I would have appreciated a more precise location. But then, again, I understand the reluctance to provide that. Doing so likely would draw unwanted onlookers.

Was the phone call even necessary?

Should the police department have posted something on their Twitter account?

Please share your thoughts.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling