To the editor:
I am writing in response to Mayor Ufkin's letter regarding cuts to the Minneota Police Department, and specifically the possible elimination of Patrol Officer Ben Standahl's position.
While everyone can appreciate all the hard choices that have had to be made by the City Council in the face of tough economic times, and the declines in LGA funding in past years - the mayor himself states that "the city is in good fiscal health right nowwe have the highest financial rating possible for a city our sizeand we have adequate reserves." So it begs the question what really is behind the decision to arbitrarily cut hours from the Police Department right now? Why has Officer Standahl's position been identified as the potential 'can' being kicked down the road?
Across Minnesota more and more towns need to "rely on the Sheriff's office for emergencies," decreasing the Sheriff's effectiveness and exposing their citizens to more vandalism, petty crimes and unresolved issues. Those of us prone to the occasional speeding ticket may not mind that "two days a month" there would be no officer on duty, or that '12 additional days each month there would be no officer on-call during non-patrol hours' but those that own their home and operate businesses should be concerned. It does not require a criminal mastermind to figure out when the sole Police Officer is working, or not working, in a small town.
More importantly, Ben has been a valuable member of the community for 5 years. He owns a house in Minneota. He spends his money in Minneota. He attends church in Minneota. Two of his children attend school in Minneota. His third child (whom will be born by the time you read this) will start his life in Minneota. Ben is a volunteer with the Fire Department and the Ambulance. Ben was also recently awarded a State Patrol Accommodation for Life Saving.
Officer Standahl's position is not a "can being kicked down the road." His position is an investment in the City of Minneota, and a commitment to preserving the quality of life and safety of its citizens.
Please contact the City Council, or attend the next meeting on March 12, and tell them to take this issue off the table.
Minnesota Association of Public Employees