The fate of the Clarkfield Police Department may be sealed.
At the Dec. 18 Clarkfield city council meeting, Mayor Gene Kockelman detailed a pair of meetings that he, councilman Dave Biermaier and Clarkfield City Administrator Scott Weske had with the Upper Sioux Community Police Department and also with the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff.
The outcome of those meetings may be that the city will disband their police department, end their contract to provide police services to the city of Boyd and ultimately contract with the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff Department (YMCSD) for providing the city with their own deputy.
Kockelman began by detailing the meeting with the Upper Sioux Community Police Department (USCPD). According to Kockelman, if the city wanted to contract with USCPD—a department that now currently only serves the Upper Sioux Community—it would cost roughly $130,000, which is $10,000 more than the current Clarkfield Police Department (CPD) budget. In this instance, USCPD would furnish their own vehicle and there would be no one single officer dedicated to the city.
Kockelman then detailed the meeting with YMCSD and Sheriff Bill Flaten. At that meeting, Flaten quoted the city a price of $90,000 for full police services. Flaten said that if the city and county entered into a contract, the YMCSD would locate an officer in the city; furnishing him with a car that would be specifically used in the city. That officer would handle city ordinances and work out of an office in Clarkfield. Also, the city could still receive revenues from any forfeitures in city limits.
Said Kockelman, “When we left the USCPD I was ready to fix what we have and move forward with our own department. But, talking to Sheriff Flaten I got a lot better vibes, I guess you’d say.”
Flaten’s quote for police services is about $20,000-$30,000 less than what the city currently has budgeted for the CPD. A rough estimate would be about $28,000 in yearly savings. Also the city would not need to replace an aging patrol vehicle. That might mean a savings of $40,000 (the expected cost to replace the CPD’s vehicle).
Those savings are balanced against the possible loss of revenue generated by the Boyd contract (which would be ended if Clarkfield went with YMC, because the YMCSD would not want to cross county lines due to cost and inconvenience) and the possible need to pay unemployment if the CPD is disbanded. The Boyd policing contract currently generates $14,000 in revenue.
Meanwhile, Clarkfield’s central location in YMC make it an attractive post for the YMCSD who travels regularly between Canby and Granite Falls.
The council seemed most impressed with YMCSD willingness to dedicate and locate an officer in the city. “He’d be your officer and he’d be in your town,” said Kockelman recounting what he was told by Flaten.
Page 2 of 2 - The council expects to invite Sheriff Flaten to an upcoming meeting before making a decision. It must also be noted that the next time this topic is broached, two new members will be on the Clarkfield City Council. One of the council members elect, Scott Vold, was at Tuesday’s meeting and, when asked, gave his initial comment: “For me, looking at Upper Sioux is out of the question, but this thing with YMC is something to look at.”
The Clarkfield City Council last made significant changes to their police department as recently as the fall of 2010. At that time the department was reduced from two full-time officers to one-and-a-half positions.
As for the budget that was finalized at this same meeting, the council decided to move forward with the police department's budget as it was proposed, with no further changes.