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The rest of the story Rushford Village council speaks out about police service

Fri, Jun 29th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

There has been a lot of commentary in the local press recently concerning police services for the City of Rushford Village and the City of Rushford canceling the "Agreement of Understanding" to provide certain police services to the Village as a back up to the Fillmore County Sheriff's office. The Village Council continues to be concerned with providing adequate police protection for all of the Village residents. We want to make you aware of what police services are currently in place and a brief history of who provides them.

The Fillmore County Sheriff's office has been and continues to be the primary provider of police services to the City of Rushford Village. All 9-1-1 calls go to the Sheriff's office in Preston. The Dispatcher who receives these calls then will check if the County has an officer available to take the call. Depending on the estimated response time from the Fillmore County officer, the dispatcher may request assistance from the Rushford Police or other agencies to cover the call.

The City of Rushford and the City of Rushford Village had discussions on compensation for the City for answering these types of 9-1-1 calls in 2000 and in 2001 a "Contract for Furnishing of Police Services" was signed. It provided for a "per hour cost" and authorized the City of Rushford police authority to assist the County when requested by Fillmore Co. Sheriff's office to answer 9-1-1 calls in the Village.

A revised "Agreement of Understanding" was signed in 2003 providing for a flat $1000.00 per year compensation to the City for assisting the Sheriff's office. The reason for the change was that the previous "per hour cost" was taking too much time to administer. There were many questions regarding whether the calls were of an emergency nature and needed immediate response or whether these calls could have been answered by a County officer. The cost for 2001 and 2002 was less than $500.00/year, so the flat fee agreement was put into place to simplify the cost reimbursement to the City. The amount paid could / would be adjusted with the information provided to the Village, by the City of Rushford police.

At the recent Tri-City meeting Chief Stensgard was asked how many calls the City was getting from the Sheriff's office and Chief Stensgard was either unable or unwilling to provide this information. The Village Council believes that we need to know how often and for what type of calls the Rushford Police Dept. is responding to. It is rather difficult to determine a reasonable amount of compensation without knowing this information.

In Jan. of this year we received a letter from Fillmore Co. Sheriff Daryl Jensen. He was concerned that with the continued strong growth in the Rushford community there may be future needs for more police services. He also explained that with his current staffing level and budget constraints his office has limitations on how much additional police service they can provide.

Several Village members met with Sheriff Jensen in Feb. to discuss possible options for additional police services as the Village continues to grow. This issue has been the topic of much discussion by your Council. The Village Council recognizes the potential need for some additional police services and is working diligently to find the most cost effective solution.

The Mayor has appointed Roger Ekern and Liz Atkinson to head up a task force to study the policing issue. They will be contacting Village residents to try and determine how much and what type of additional police services our residents may believe is necessary. They will also be looking at options of what additional police services may be available from both the Fillmore Count Sheriff and the Rushford Police Department. We must all be aware that if we believe additional services are required, these services will require additional taxes to pay for them.

A copy of the current recently cancelled "Agreement of Understanding for Police Services," as well as other documents that are a matter of public record can be viewed in their entirety at the Village office.

We welcome your input on this issue. Please contact Roger, Liz, or any of the Council members or the Village Clerk, Judy Graham, with your concerns/thoughts on this important issue.

Mayor Gordon Johnson

Council members:

Dennis Overland, Roger Ekern, Dale Schwanke, Liz Atkinson, and Howard Otis,

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