The Clarkfield City Council approved a reorganization of the city offices at their regular meeting Tuesday night.
It was decided that the City Administrator offices would be moved to the location of the Clarkfield Museum adjacent to the Clarkfield Library. Meanwhile, the Clarkfield Police Department will occupy the current City Administrator offices in City Hall and the Museum will move to the current location of the Clarkfield Police Department.
The council decided on a Jan. 30 deadline for the completion of the office moves. The first step will be finding temporary storage space for the Clarkfield Museum items.
Councilman Dave Biermaier made the motion for the office switch pointing out that the current museum and police offices are roughly the same square footage and that there had only been about 25 people that had visited the museum in the last two years.
The discussion to reorganize the city’s office space was started at the last council meeting following councilman Neil Linscheid’s tour of the current space used by the Clarkfield Police Department.
In addressing the council at the last meeting Linscheid tallied a number of problems with the current police offices which 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 that meeting.
To try and alleviate some of the danger the police offices, in their current condition, pose to public safety, the council made a motion at that first November meeting for the immediate purchase of a safe by Police Chief Ian Hodge to better secure narcotics and firearms.
It was learned at this most recent meeting that a safe has not yet been purchased. This angered the council and furthered their criticism of the Clarkfield Police Department.
The council had already begun to be critical of the police department’s budget and their contract for police services with Boyd. At the most recent meeting, criticism on the amount of hours worked by part-time officers was added after City Administrator Scott Weske revealed that those officers had worked far more hours than the city mandate that regulates those practices allowed for.
Page 2 of 2 - “I’m upset. It’s been two weeks since we told (Police Chief Ian Hodge) to buy a safe. I don’t know how much clearer we could have been,” said councilman Linscheid during discussion.
“To me, at the least, there has to be a written warning. We’ve let this go on for a long time,” said councilman Robert Schlenner.
The council directed Weske to address Hodge and put a written warning in his file.
At the first November meeting, Hodge made a request for the council to consider the purchase of a new police vehicle. At this meeting the council passed a motion to table discussion on the new police vehicle until the city has sold all forfeiture cars and the contract with Boyd is brought up to date and all revenue from these actions is in the bank.
Councilman Biermaier again pushed for the council to consider contracting with an outside agency like Yellow Medicine County Sheriff, or the Upper Sioux Police Department for police services.
Weske was tasked with pursuing that action.