A councilman's tour of the Clarkfield Police Department Offices on 10th Avenue in Clarkfield sparked discussions on the possible reorganization of civic offices in the city.
After a ride-along and a tour of the police department's offices on Halloween night with Clarkfield Police Chief Ian Hodge, councilman Neil Linscheid drafted a memo to the council recommending an immediate relocation of the offices to the office space currently occupied by the Clarkfield Museum.
That discussion mushroomed during Wednesday night's meeting to a full blown reorganization of city offices that included not only the police department, but also City Hall, the Clarkfield Museum and the Clarkfield Library and extended into reopening the discussion on closing the city's Police Department all together and contracting for police services with an outside entity.
Linscheid began his presentation with a slide show detailing the many concerns with the current location of the police department's offices. Those concerns include: the building is not secure and contains items such as firearms, narcotics and ammunition that threaten public safety; the building is not 'Americans with Disabilities Act' accessible and as a public government office is required to be; evidence such as firearms and narcotics are not securely stored; the building does not currently have hot water, which is critical for city employees that may come in contact with blood and other bodily fluids; and the building is simply not big enough for the number of officers (one full time and six part time officers) that use it.
"I had never set foot into the Police Department until I went on a ride along with (Police Chief) Ian (Hodge) on Halloween. What I saw worried me enough to sit down and write a memo on it," said Linscheid.
At this point councilmen Dave Biermaier interjected his budget concerns; rattling off a number of recent and upcoming expenditures the council will have to deal with and reignited discussions on the possibility of the city cutting the police department altogether and contracting for police services with an agency like the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff, or the Upper Sioux Police Department. The last time this idea was tossed about was in 2010 when the city ultimately decided to cut down from two full-time officers to one full-time officer and part time fill-ins.
After that the council bounced about ideas on city office space. What was ultimately agreed upon was that: the Police Department Offices are a civic hazard; there's not enough room in City Hall for the city offices; the Clarkfield Museum space is sorely underutilized (with roughly 25 people visiting the museum a year); and it's extremely important to preserve and properly display the items currently in the museum.
When it was all said and done the council put a band-aide on Linscheid's concerns by approving the immediate purchase of a new safe for the Police Department to better secure items that threaten public safety and tasked City Administrator Scott Weske with investigating possible contracting for future police service.
Page 2 of 2 - The question of reorganizing the city's office space was tabled pending further investigation.
Biermaier agreed that something long-term needs to be done with the Police Department offices saying, "We could put bars on the windows, install a ramp and all that, but the buildings shot,"
Linscheid weighed in on contracting for police service saying, "It's fine to look at, but when we make a decision this time we should be forced to stick to it—it's just not fair to city employees to drag this out every couple of years."
Later during the same meeting Police Chief Hodge requested the purchase of a new squad vehicle for his department. The new vehicle would be a 2013 Ford Interceptor SUV valued at roughly $45,000. It would replace the current Chevy Tahoe the department uses that Hodge believes might be worth $6,000 at the most. The department currently has $24,000 in their vehicle replacement fund and Hodge thought that the city might have roughly $26,000 in vehicle forfeitures.