Sebeka warned PD plan may have flaws
The Wadena County Board granted Sebeka Mayor Debbie Carlson's request to come up with a per hour cost evaluation for replacing Sebeka's police department with contracted sheriff's department services. Sheriff Mike Carr Jr. will gather the informa...
The Wadena County Board granted Sebeka Mayor Debbie Carlson's request to come up with a per hour cost evaluation for replacing Sebeka's police department with contracted sheriff's department services. Sheriff Mike Carr Jr. will gather the information.
Carlson approached the board to begin discussion on the feasibility of the arrangement.
She emphasized the city's dire financial straits and need to make cuts. She has been in contact with many Minnesota cities of varying sizes that have had positive results with a similar arrangement, she said. In addition to contracting with the county, Sebeka is also considering cutting down the police department to one officer.
Carr expressed skepticism about the proposal.
"Anytime you lose a police department you're losing security in some way," Carr said. "If this was a good deal, the whole state of Minnesota would be doing it."
The county would have to hire a full-time deputy and purchase a new squad in order to provide additional service, he said. There is also the cost of a computer for the car and many additional costs that add up.
Carlson said she hoped Sebeka wouldn't be charged the whole cost of hiring a new person and purchasing a new squad car because the city isn't looking at 40 hours of service per week.
Sebeka has 10 hours of service a day now with two-full time officers, Carlson said. The city is not interested in contracting for that many hours.
Carlson suggested the arrangement could be a win-win for the county and the city. Regarding the issue of drugs, she said a central law enforcement agency that knows everything could provide better coverage than little pockets of law enforcement here and there. The current police department building could also be used by the county.
Chairman Bill Stearns pointed out that Sebeka could drop the police department and the county would be obligated to provide service in the city.
"They'll lose the security of the town," Carr said. "It's going to be a response time."
The Sebeka Police Department currently provides a five- to 10-minute response time, he said.
Stearns said it's up to the citizens of Sebeka to decide what kind of security they want for their town.
Commissioner Mary Harrison said concrete numbers need to be determined and a public hearing held before any decisions can be made.
Carlson said Sebeka does not have a deadline for a decision but the sooner the city has information to make a decision the better.