By David Unmacht
A feature article in this issue of the magazine explores the mental health needs of first responders and the importance of providing support for these public servants. The impact of mental health on our cities has exploded upon the scene in many ways: addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and in some cases, suicide. The systems used in our society to combat mental health are numerous, including the vital work of our peers in community service agencies, schools, and county government.
What is the League of Minnesota Cities’ (LMC) role within this system? It is largely through the work of our insurance trust. The article explains: “For many years, the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) has been involved in efforts to address the issue of first responder mental health through workshops, online training programs, and face-to-face outreach.” Our goal is to work diligently toward prevention, while responding to the immediate needs and expectations of our cities.
The evolving responsibility of LMCIT in mental health is a great barometer for how the role of the Trust has evolved. LMCIT was created in 1980 as a self-insurance municipal pool for cities, by cities, at a time when local government was largely unable to find broad, affordable coverage.
Today, the unique partnership of LMCIT and LMC results in a holistic, one-stop shop of services for members. In addition to workers’ compensation and property/casualty coverage, services provided range from loss control and legal guidance to advocacy, conflict mediation, and media relations assistance.
Former LMC Executive Director Jim Miller said it best in his March-April 2011 Minnesota Cities magazine column: “The factor perhaps most distinguishing the League’s insurance program from private-sector offerings is our emphasis on helping cities manage risk.” Member-owned LMCIT’s fundamental purpose is to cover city risks, mitigate hazards, and partner with cities to identify and prevent losses and claims.
This “risk management” priority remains the bedrock of LMCIT to this day, but we are also responsive to how cities’ needs have changed. Here are three examples.
Within the past year, LMCIT has created the one-of-a-kind Collaboration Services, which works with members (elected and appointed officials) free of charge to help them function as a team, understand roles, be transparent, and avoid unproductive conflict. LMCIT Collaboration and Mediation Manager Pam Whitmore, a qualified neutral and experienced facilitator, offers personalized workshops to help keep cities on track and avoid lawsuits and claims.
Another more recent service is media relations assistance. With the onset of social media and 24-hour news coverage, we now live in the constant motion of news, noise, and real-time information. Most cities don’t have the staff to effectively respond to the pressure of media requests, especially in a crisis. The Trust offers, at no charge to members, access to media relations experts, including our Assistant Communications Director Don Reeder, to help cities in times of need.
I’m quite confident that Pete Tritz, one of the founders of the Trust, was not thinking about cybersecurity in 1980. However, today, this is one of our cities’ greatest risks. Members of LMCIT have access to a private, web-based portal containing information and technical resources that can assist them in the prevention of network, computer, and privacy losses, and provide support in the timely reporting and recovery of losses if an incident occurs.
As discussed in the cover story of this issue, cybersecurity and the risks cities have with their data, networks, and personal devices will only become more common, so it’s important to know what to do if a breach occurs (see How to Respond to a Computer Security Breach).
LMCIT covers timely issues such as these at its annual Safety & Loss Control Workshops, which are happening in March and April in nine locations. Register for a workshop at www.lmc.org/lmcit.
As the LMC executive director, I see firsthand the work of our LMCIT staff and the feedback from our members. I’m proud to report that cities see exceptional value in LMCIT membership. Over the past 10 years, member retention rate is nearly 100 percent. This outcome is not luck, but effective, responsive service. More than 820 cities in Minnesota (96 percent) get coverage through LMCIT. In addition, there are hundreds of other entities, such as joint powers districts, that are also covered by LMCIT.
For more information, visit www.lmc.org/lmcit or contact LMCIT Administrator Dan Greensweig at (651) 281-1291 or email@example.com. He loves to engage with members and, for an insurance guy, is easy to talk to.
David Unmacht is executive director of the League of Minnesota Cities. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (651) 281-1205.