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Wendy Reuer, Published October 28 2013

Dilworth still weighing options for police force

DILWORTH – City leaders here say more information is needed before they can decide if the city will continue to have a police department or contract with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement.

The city has been weighing its options since former Police Chief Josh Ebert resigned on Sept. 9 after 19 months. Instead of immediately jumping into the hiring process, the city explored two alternatives: The first was to revamp the city’s hiring process and evaluate goals for a new chief.

The second option was to ask the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to offer a proposal outlining the cost and scope of policing services it could provide to the city.

Last week Mayor Chad Olson said he expected a proposal soon. At the council’s Monday night meeting, he said Sheriff Bill Bergquist is still working on the contract and many other details need to be discussed. Olson said whether current city officers would be hired by the county and what the service would cost have not been determined.

“So it’s been a very preliminary conversation, but a lot of new ideas in terms of scope of service,” Olson said Monday.

City Administrator Ken Parke said contracting with the sheriff could add resources to the city such as providing a community resource officer to the schools. It would also increase available resources in investigations.

Dilworth now employs an investigator among its six full-time officers and three part-time officers.

In 2014, the city budgeted just shy of $700,000 to cover operating costs for the police department, Parke said.

The sheriff’s office already provides police services to six cities and 30 townships in the area with a force of 32 full-time deputies and 21 part-time deputies.

Parke said if the city contracts for police services, deputies would be housed at the current police headquarters at 500 Center Ave. W.

“They would have a continuous presence in the city,” he said. “We want them to be proactive, not just reactive here.”

Bill Bergquist could not be reached for comment Monday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530