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City explores law enforcement services
With the resignation of Police Chief John Schmidt and the three-month contract with Le Sueur County providing a Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO), the Montgomery City Council is looking at the future of its police department.
At its regular meeting on Monday, City Administrator Brian Heck noted in his agenda item the current situation allows the city to explore and discuss how to provide law enforcement services in the most efficient and cost effective manner while meeting the expectations of the community.
“The provision of law enforcement is a very emotional issue and there are many things to consider in such a discussion with cost and service level being two main ones,” Heck wrote. “The council should take the time to carefully evaluate and study this issue so as to make the best decision for the benefit of the residents of this city.”
He said the city has several options right now. It could recruit a new chief, promote a Montgomery officer to chief, or examine a long-term contract with the county. However the lengthy process of hiring a new chief (two to three-month process) highlights the urgency to move on the issue, Heck added.
Le Sueur County Chief Deputy and Interim Sheriff Brett Mason reminded the council that the union contract with the city’s police officers expires on December 31, 2017. He said the timeline for whatever the city wishes to do is not a long one.
“Time is of the essence,” Mason said, adding it will probably take up to four months to hire a new chief, and considerable time for the county to consider a long-term contract to provide the city with 24-7 police coverage.
If Montgomery chooses the latter option, they won’t be alone. Two weeks ago, the city of Morristown voted to eliminate its police department and use the county services. The cities of Elysian and Kasota also use the county for its law enforcement.
Meeting schedule for future law enforcement services
Monday, May 1 - Council workshop with Le Sueur County Sheriff to discuss what a law enforcement agreement with the county would look like, the current situation, and the potential cost.
Monday, May 15 - Council regular meeting to review and evaluate information from the sheriff and look at financial considerations.
Monday, May 22 - Community meeting to gather community input
Tuesday, May 30, 7 p.m. - Council work session to discuss community input
Monday, June 19 - Council meeting to review and make decision
(All meetings are open to the public and will be held at City Hall. They are all scheduled to start at 7 p.m.)