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Police budget: is the bad economy turning people to selling drugs?

Drug use is up in Wadena, Sgt./Investigator Tom Crawford told the city council on Monday's budget meeting.

Crawford, who filled in for Bruce Uselman at the meeting, said that some people turn to selling drugs to make quick, untaxed cash in the bad economy.

He also said that the department has been dealing with mental health issues after state cuts in institutions.

Crawford said the police department was planning to switch to an 800 MHz system.

"800 MHz is coming sooner than later," Crawford said. "We don't want to spend $2,000 or $2,500 on a VHF radio."

Crawford said that the Elks approached them, wanting to pick up the anti-drug education DARE program.

"The Elks is very adamant that they want to pick this program up," Crawford said.

Crawford said that the police department is allowed to use forfeited vehicles for service. He said that they can use a car for several months, put it up in a state auction, and get another car.

Crawford said these vehicles would be used for administrative purposes, not high speed chases.

Crawford also said that they would get parent volunteers for crossing guards for the upcoming school year.

"We don't have the time or the manpower," he said.

Crawford asked the council to keep the police department in mind for budgets.

"There's going to be some changes in everybody's budget," City Administrator Brad Swenson said.

He said the police department was asking for a $100,000 increase, and said that at that time the city was $400,000 short of a balanced budget.

"I understand that we've got the largest budget, there's no two ways about that," Crawford said. "We're a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week service."