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Keep it clean
Dear Mayor Winnick, Council Members Eigner, Freer, and Administrator Parrish, please reconsider your actions towards disbanding the Forest Lake Police Department.
Forest Lake is a great place to live. We can raise our families here, knowing we are safe. We can count on our Forest Lake Police Department to be there when we need them; even when off duty, they are still on-duty protecting our community. Our FLPD have an invested interest in FL; they grew up, reside, are in our schools, and they shop/dine in Forest Lake.
You all have said this proposal request has nothing to do with budget cuts, and the performance of our police department is second to none. Your proposal request was done too fast, and without communicating to your constituents, and without public input, which was deceiving to your community.
Mr. Winnick, you promised us smart economic growth, to make Forest Lake a regional hub, and to boost our visibility; your team has definitely increased our visibility, just poorly. Since you have taken office, I have seen insecurity, sadness, frustration, confusion, anger, and disappointment. Please listen to your community’s outcry; it’s everywhere you turn.
We ask that you return to your promised commitments that you made back on November 8th, 2016: to create local jobs, revitalize our downtown, and improve unsafe school routes (fatal intersection at Highway 97 and Goodview Avenue).
You all were elected to represent our city residents and to keep local politics clean; your actions have not been moral or clean.
Forest Lake City officials have called for a transparent discussion about the best way to keep its residents safe and protected.
In his Feb. 3 column in The Forest Lake Times, Mayor Winnick said “no formal decision has been made” about using Washington County to provide police protection.
However, it now seems that statement is just a spin job because the city had already hired a public relations firm to help “sell” the idea of using Washington County.
In the first sentence of its proposal to the city of Forest Lake, the PR firm states “The City of Forest Lake is planning to contract for law enforcement services from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.” It describes the issue as a “sensitive” matter. And it offers to create and manage messages about “how the transition will affect the community.”
That’s not transparency. That’s deception. It also makes the evaluation process, and the opportunity for stakeholder feedback and public comment, a sham. Clearly Mayor Winnick has already made up his mind about using Washington County despite the fact that a proposal from Washington County has not even been received yet.
Despite what Mayor Winnick says, this has been anything but an open and transparent process. And that’s a terrible disservice to the people of Forest Lake and to the brave police officers who protect and serve them each day.
Executive Director of Law Enforcement Labor Services