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Deer Creek discusses police procedures

The challenges of enforcing ordinances when one's law enforcement agency is based several miles away, along with other topics, were discussed at Monday's Deer Creek city council meeting.

New York Mills Police Chief Jim Van Schaick gave an update to the council on police department activity.

Deer Creek does not have its own police department, so New York Mills provides at least 30 hours of law enforcement per month.

"Our officers typically try to spend at least an hour here when they're here," Van Schaick said.

Mayor Julie Brenko said Deer Creek spends about $15,000 per year for police protection, and the city had sent a letter asking for a breakdown of services they are getting and more information and monthly reports.

Van Schaick said there is a new system with Otter Tail County which keeps track of records of police visits and calls. When officers visit Deer Creek, they log that they have been there - whether as part of a regular patrol or as a response to a call.

In some calls for service, the call originated from other towns but the event was in Deer Creek.

Council member Mary Lee Weaver asked how money from fines is distributed.

Van Schaick said the money goes to the state first, and is ultimately split three ways.

For example, of $60 from a traffic fine, $20 would go to the state, $20 would go to the city and $20 would go to the law enforcement agency.

Van Schaick said that most of the speeders they fine are going significantly over the speed limit and driving in a way that jeopardizes safety, but since the police department's job is to enforce statues and ordinances as people see fit, they can step up enforcement if the city wants them to.

Council member Brenda Lee said that enforcing fines against dogs running at large, barking and biting was important but not getting fixed.

"When I got bit, nothing was ever, ever done about that. The people still do not get a license, have never gotten a license, nothing was ever done about it. They got by without paying any medical bills, anything," Lee said.

Van Schaick said sometimes he will get a call, but when he arrives, the dog has stopped barking. If the dog does not bark in the five minutes that he waits, he can talk to the owner.

"If they haven't gotten a citation before or a warning before, I give them a warning. If they've gotten a warning before, then we issue a citation," he said.

Van Schaick said that if someone is bitten by a dog, it is recommended they get treatment.