Council votes to analyze long-term policing options
Columbus City Council members voted unanimously Oct. 24 to begin an official look at options for policing and protecting the city other than continuing a long-term partnership with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.
First, however, the council approved on a split vote a new two-year county contract by which Columbus would pay about $50,000 more for service by 2014 – or an estimated $271,298 – than it has in 2012. Mayor Dave Povolny and Councilman Bill Krebs dissented in that vote.
The city would maintain its current level of service by sheriff’s deputies through next June, and see an increase in coverage starting in July through December 2014.
Columbus has received eight dedicated hours of patrol coverage daily from Anoka County, including weekends, since its incorporation as a city in 2007. The deputies began five days of weekly coverage at peak hours in 1987, at the start of the former township’s arrangement with the county.
Throughout the non-dedicated hours, Columbus shares services from a minimum of two deputies that are always on patrol in an area that also covers Linwood, Ham Lake, Bethel, East Bethel, Andover, Oak Grove and Nowthen.
Columbus’ daily dedicated coverage will be bumped up to 10 hours next July.
The council made its decisions last week while seated across a table from chief deputy Tom Wells and Lt. Bryon Fuerst, both of whom had been present for talks on the subject Sept. 12, and they were joined this time by Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart.
“We know this community,” Stuart said. “We take pride in this community, and ownership in this community.”
The county’s services for its contracted cities and townships can include speed enforcement, business compliance checks for alcohol and tobacco licensees, and the implementation of crime prevention programs and measures in addition to response to calls of theft, burglary and property damage among other crimes.
County levy funds that are earmarked for the Sheriff’s Office support services for all of the county’s cities and townships regardless if they employ their own police forces. Those services include jail operations, assistance in robbery investigations, response to burglaries or assaults in progress, sex crime investigations, death investigations and permit-to-carry processing among other work.