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Kyle Potter, Published November 26 2013

Dilworth will keep its own police force, hire chief

DILWORTH – After considering having Clay County Sheriff’s deputies take over law enforcement here, the city has decided to keep its police department and hire a chief to oversee it.

Mayor Chad Olson said it was a tough decision, but he said: “When it came down to it, maintaining that hometown police force, that local control of service, was really the tipping point.”

The city has been without a permanent police chief since Sept. 9, when former Chief Josh Ebert resigned after 19 months on the job, marred by performance questions and a vote of “no confidence” from his officers. Officer Brad Browning took over as acting chief and will stay in that position until a replacement is hired.

Olson said the city has already started its hiring process, and he hopes to fill the position by the end of February at the latest.

The Clay County 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.

Sheriff Bill Bergquist said Dilworth would have been different. The other municipalities in its fold don’t have contracts – the sheriff’s office is required to patrol and respond to calls there because they don’t have their own law enforcement.

Bergquist said their contract proposal was “more than [Dilworth] wanted to spend at this time.” He declined to share a price, which he said wouldn’t accurately portray the actual number – Dilworth had a number of assets like its police station and fleet of squad cars that would have changed the contract.

“It didn’t really matter to me what they chose to do,” Bergquist said. “They’re the ones that have to decide what’s best for them.”

Olson said it was a great proposal, but said the “decision couldn’t hinge on dollars alone.”

“It had to be the complete picture,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kyle Potter at (701) 241-5502