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Blue Earth can make medium-term commitment

December 7, 2011
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith , Fairmont Sentinel

The Blue Earth City Council has been wrestling with issues related to its police force for most of the year. Some council members, police officers and citizens are getting frustrated with the process, which seems to be dragging on.

One obstacle has been the inability to find a qualified police chief. Part of the problem is that it is not clear whether the city will retain its police force or try to work more closely with the sheriff's department, or another agency.

At least one council member suggests the city should simply promote a police officer to chief, even without the leadership qualities the city has viewed as important. The council member says Blue Earth isn't teeming with crime and a current officer can handle things. Additionally, that officer already knows the community.

But the fact that Blue Earth isn't very busy, criminally speaking, also lends credence to the notion that costs can be saved by working with the sheriff's office. Blue Earth is kind of at a crossroads in terms of demographics, crime and policing needs.

Perhaps another factor should be considered. Blue Earth is in extraordinarily good shape when it comes to its finances. The city is actually lowering its property tax levy by 6 percent next year. Blue Earth's debt situation also is very good.

If the populace wants to retain its own police force for the forseeable future, then the city should get on with hiring a chief and proceed on that path for now. If circumstances warrant a change five years from now, the council can revisit the issue. We tend to agree that at this moment the council needs to commit to a plan.



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