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Continued: Inside the tent city

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 13, 2007 - 10:45 PM

The command post at W. River Parkway and 13th Avenue S. works in tandem with a smaller post closer to the river operated the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office.

Preparation over the past months with other law enforcement agencies for next year's Republican National Convention helped build a level of trust and professionalism needed for their successful rescue results, Allen said.

"We had people who normally would be telling us what to do asking what they could do for us," he said.

Command post duties change from hour to hour. Officers can be hearing about a crane removing a car from the river one minute and then have to go to a meeting to talk about security for a visit by President Bush. There are usually three briefings a day.

"You become an air traffic controller," said Martin, who oversees the overall investigation of the collapse.

They also have to deal with issues that rarely pop up during normal police work. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for example, is on site to make sure officers wear protective eyeglasses and gloves.

The command post run by the Minneapolis Police Department has now been taken over by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Martin, who was promoted to inspector of the Police Department's Fourth Precinct last week, will start his new position in a couple weeks.

During 14-hour days as incident commander at the collapse site, there was one thing Allen didn't make part of his daily routine: looking at the mangled bridge.

"I couldn't do it," he said. "You think about the families connected with each vehicle."

David Chanen • 612-673-4465 • dchanen@startribune.com

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