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Letter: In favor of local police

he Moose Lake City Council to disband the police department in the name of funding concerns. Many questions abound, foremost those of security to the populace of the surrounding citizens as well as conscientious use of the resulting “freed up” hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I had the privilege, as a citizen of the Moose Lake area (I live in a township just outside), of attending the city council meeting in January at which the decision was debated. As an observer, I tallied the viewpoints of the citizens whom I saw: 10 of 13 in favor of keeping the police force in any capacity; two in favor of the sheriff’s office taking over; one whose opinion I could not determine.

I formed my own opinions of those who sat on the council. Particular themes stood out. The locality of those in uniform: Will they know us? Will they know our kids? (Unsaid: Will they know and care about us? Will their kids attend our schools? … In short, will they be part of our community?)

People questioned the response times and expressed confusion and dismay about the financial picture. Why is the cost so high? And how is revenue for the city generated? Several people had excellent points, most of which were immediately deferred by the mayor despite his promise not to engage in debate.

I watched as the administrator took notes while someone explained the state grants available to small-town police forces, then I listened as the mayor explained that grants don’t last and the city is left after a year trying to pick up a six-figure salary package for an officer. Never mind the grant the person was referring to may have been for a longer term, with potential for renewal.

The council voted to hire the sheriff’s office. Heartbreaking and scary news, since it was immediately picked up by state and national news media. How better to advertise the disbanding of the defense forces for the local citizenry than to broadcast it nationally?

No offense to Sheriff Lake and her team, but nothing is more effective in allowing the community to thrive than a local police force dedicated to defending it.

Deryn Warner, Moose Lake

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